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Thursday, March 10, 2016

Saap Ver Brings the Thai Countryside to SoMa

Posted By on Thu, Mar 10, 2016 at 2:00 PM

click to enlarge Five spices pig leg - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Five spices pig leg

Replacing the unlamented Grand Pu Bah, Saap Ver is a sight. Just as the name — which translates to “overly delicious” — is a deliberate departure from the thousands of restaurants out there with names that use the word “Thai” in some form, the interior is plastered with vintage Thai movie posters, and the host stand is a kinetoscope or some kind of old-timey movie-viewing contraption.

click to enlarge The rear wall - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • The rear wall

Chef Nutnawat Aukcarapasutanun wants another departure, away from Bangkok-centricity and toward the provinces.
Although the lunch menu skews closer than the dinner menu to the standard noodle plates that Americans think of as Thai food — almost certainly by necessity — there are some regional dishes here. You’ll find a roasted rice sausage salad, three spicy soups (including one with slow-cooked spare ribs), and street food like a pad cha scallop made with spicy rhizome herbs, young peppercorns, and kaffir.

click to enlarge Pad see ew beef - PETER LAWRENCE KANE
  • Peter Lawrence Kane
  • Pad see ew beef

A dish of pad see ew beef ($12) was decent enough — slightly murky, in the words of a lunch acquaintance who’s cooked in Thailand — but the five spices pig leg was spot-on, a generous helping of fatty pork over rice with pickles, greens, and an egg not-quite-soft-boiled in the meat juices. When richness and acid balance each other out like that, you know this is going to be a draw for techies on this southern fringe of SoMa. And while it’s hardly the lunch-special steal you can find anywhere else in town, a $20 four-course chef’s tasting menu (dinner only) makes this trip to the Thai countryside hard to resist.

Saap Ver, 88 Division St., 415-255-1818 or saapver.com


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About The Author

Peter Lawrence Kane

Bio:
Peter Lawrence Kane is SF Weekly's Arts Editor. He has lived in San Francisco since 2008 and is two-thirds the way toward his goal of visiting all 59 national parks.

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