Savory Morsels

The Culinary Adventures of a California Girl

Saturday, June 10, 2006

***June 10, 2006: Soi 4***

Soi 4
5421 College Ave.
Oakland, CA

It wouldn’t be a trip home with out a visit to Soi 4, my favorite Thai restaurant in Oakland. Even my best friend (who rarely likes to venture outside of Ritz crackers, buttered fusilli, and thoroughly cooked salmon) will happily put aside her picky eating to come to Soi 4. Unlike most Thai restaurants in the Bay Area this one is pretty upscale and has an appealing, clean, minimalist decor. Without alcohol the bill can get to about $40 a person, but the food is definitely worth it. On weekends it’s best to make a reservation, but a small party can usually get a table within 20 minutes.
My main problem with Soi 4 is that I have gotten in an ordering rut. Every time I go there I order the steamed turnip cakes and the minced chicken. I’ve tried the flat bread, the sliced steak with parched rice, and the chicken skewers, which are all good but nothing comes close to my standard order! Turnip cakes might sound unusual, but they taste absolutely amazing and not that strange at all. I guess the closest comparison would be those big thick steak fries that are still all soft in the middle but crispy on the outside. They also come with sautéed bean sprouts which I could basically eat with every meal. The minced chicken is also a favorite of everyone who tries it. It’s served with white rice (which helps to cut some of the spice) and is loaded with fresh basil and hot spices. I usually eat it way too quickly and end up soooo stuffed!

The portion size is quite large and I often need to share courses or get my leftovers to go so that I will have enough room left over for dessert. This was the first restaurant where I fell in love with what is now one of my top ten favorite desserts: mango sticky rice. I was so excited when it arrived at the table that I totally forgot to even take a picture of it until the rice was half gone and I’d eaten all of the mangos. I think Soi 4’s rendition of mango sticky rice is particularly well done because they only serve it when the mangos are perfectly ripe, the coconut-condensed milk mixture is never cloying sweet like it can be at some places, and the rice is well cooked and not chewy at all. It is basically my version of the perfect comfort food. I always leave happy and full and looking forward to my next trip back!


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