5421 El Cajon Blvd
I finally get to eat Asian food again. I've been living off my banh mi excursions to Saigon Deli and A-Chau for almost 3 weeks. Finally, I decided to go to Sang Dao for some take out. I remember Kirk and Ed from mmm-yoso blogging about it. It's a family owned Lao-Thai restaurant.
My first impression upon arriving there was that the parking lot was much too small. The restaurant is located in a small strip mall. I think the parking spaces right in front of the shops are 15min parking only. I always have the bad luck of getting towed so I always stay clear of colored/labeled spaces or signs that indicate restricted parking.
The restaurant itself was small with 9 tables or so. Right away I could tell the majority of the customers were Lao. The place was packed. We grabbed a take out menu and quickly looked through it. We placed our order with the nice young lady who took orders, waited the tables, and refilled water glasses.
I loved how next to the cash register was a cooler case with all kinds of freshly prepared goodies. On top of the case were beef jerky, Nam Khao 'kits', Thai sausages, steamed squash with custard, and soup nor mai. Inside the case were other desserts and som moo.
1. Tam mak hoong - We ordered medium heat and Lao style. I think the difference between Thai and Lao style is that Lao papaya salad has padaek (fermented fish) in it. I thought it was just ok. I really enjoyed the deep fried pig ears with it. There have only been 2 places in San Diego that I prefer to get papaya salad. One is an organic produce store on University and the other was the now closed Oriental Food Market. Of course I have not tried all the papaya salads in San Diego, at least not yet.
2. Deep Fried Fish - Is that tilapia? It's served over cabbage and topped with fried garlic. Yummy.
3. Chicken wings - It was ok, nothing special. It came with a dipping sauce, I didn't try it but it looks like sweet chili sauce. Maybe it was for the fish? I prefer sweet chili sauce with eggrolls.
4. Khao Tom (steamed rice in banana leaf) - Was not as good as my Mom's khao tom. My mom uses green bananas not plantains. And these had red beans or black beans (?) in them that were hard. Maybe they needed to be soaked longer in water. The texture was off for me.