Nothing beats sitting down at Marnee Thai and being delivered a skillet full of Thai rice coconut hotcakes with pumpkin, corn, green onions, and coconut cream. As you carefully scoop each one out, they get progressively crispier on the outside, but still remain pleasingly soft inside. This is one of San Francisco’s oldest Thai restaurants and while they nail all the standard classics, there’s almost always something exciting to try on the specials board too. The noodles, soups, curries, and other menu staples hone in on Central Thailand, though you’ll find dishes from other regions, like massaman curry from the southern part of the country.
You can choose yellow, green, or red curry as a base for the banana curry, which also includes vegetables or a protein like pork or duck. We enjoy the medium spice level of the red curry to go with the banana. Also, the softness of the fruit may trick your brain into thinking it’s having a seafood moment, with no fishy flavor.
If you don’t order this dish right when you sit down, did you really even go to Marnee Thai? Grilled rice and coconut cakes the size of silver dollar pancakes are topped with a spoonful of coconut cream, pumpkin, and corn, and the bottoms get irresistibly crispier the longer you leave them in the hot pan, which comes to the table with it.
The immediate area around the restaurant teems with pot stickers, yet these are still worth ordering because they’re slightly different. The pork and vegetable filling is pretty typical, but the green curry dipping sauce makes for a plausible companion with Thai dishes.
The aromatics in the spicy coconut milk broth is a mood-lifter. Get it with small and fat shrimp (our favorite), chicken, or just tofu and vegetables.
Roasted Duck Salad
There are a few different salads on the menu that come with a spicy lime dressing, toasted rice powder, cilantro, and mint leaves. But the version with cold slices of roasted, skin-on duck is the one you’ll be making plans to have again while you’re still eating.
Always a good dish to start with if you’re new to Thai food, or to have as an anchor to a meal. The rice noodles, egg. and bean sprouts can also help you cool down from the spicier dishes.
Goong Sarong (Prawns In A Blanket)
If you like appetizers that are so crispy they sound like they’re literally shattering when you bite into them, try the prawns in a blanket. A second serving may be in order.
Prawns & Scallops Pad Phong Ka Ree
Yellow curry with vegetables, egg, prawns, and scallops can serve as an alternative to pad Thai. With no accompanying noodles or rice, it cuts down on the carbs, but offers some saucy flavor.