Supannee House of Thai
2907 Shelter Island Drive, Suite #110
San Diego, CA 92106
While attending a recent “meet and greet” for one of the mayoral candidates (David Alvarez), I spoke to a young couple who recognized my name as a restaurant reviewer for the OB Rag. They asked if I had reviewed the “Supannee House of Thai”. It is one of their favorite restaurants and return often for their authentic Thai food. I had not been there yet, even though it was one of the places I had flagged to try at a later time.
The following day I called my friend Eric and asked him if he would like to join me in reviewing the restaurant. He had gone with me when I reviewed another local Thai food restaurant and I felt that he complimented my tastes and likes and would do the same thing at the Supannee.
We arrived at 6:45pm on a Monday evening. I knew where the restaurant was located – on the corner of Shelter Island Drive and Scott street, in the only strip mall on Scott. What I didn’t realize was that although there is a private parking lot, all of the parking in front of the businesses are timed – 15 minutes and/or 30 minutes. We did find a parking spot in the lot, but I think that on a weekend night parking might be difficult.
The restaurant had 9 occupied tables; people were waiting for take-out; and a steady stream of people kept coming in to pick up the orders they had given on the phone. The noise level was average; and there was NO television, thank goodness. We were shown our seats quickly; water was brought to us almost immediately, and we were handed the very extensive menu. Before we had a chance to look at the menu we were asked if we wanted to order a drink.
It should be noted that they only serve beer and wine plus a variety of non-alcoholic drinks. Eric ordered a lemonade to start the evening, but when we finally ordered we had a bottle of non-filtered sake. Along with the menu, there was a “special of the day” menu, and, interestingly enough, Eric was handed the wine /beer list. That list was also extensive. There were 17 white wines; 16 reds; 6 beers on tap; 13 bottles of beer; hard cider (1); 4 sake’s and one mixed drink. The prices were varied.
The regular menu had 4 kinds of soup; 9 salads; and a variety of noodles and fried rice; stir fries; curries; house special; appetizers, etc. We started our meal with summer rolls, that were served with a delightful peanut sauce and a sweet/hot sauce. They were fresh and tasty.
The special menu was puzzling to me. It was a fish and seafood menu, and featured, among other things, was grouper and halibut. I know where one can catch halibut, but I haven’t seen grouper on a menu in years. In fact, I thought that grouper was on the endangered fish list, yet several of the items on this menu included grouper. I asked where it came from and the waitperson said he would find out for me. When another waiter came back to our table, he told me that the grouper were from San Diego Bay, and were caught fresh. I believe that I gulped and asked, incredulously, from our San Diego Bay? He answered in the affirmative.
OK. In the first place, as a fisherperson myself, I would NEVER eat anything I caught in the San Diego Bay, and to think that they are catching grouper there is mind boggling. The reason I know something about the grouper is because I once said I would like to come back in another life as a grouper. Groupers mature as females, and have the ability to change their sex as they get older. What fun that would be! None-the-less, I put down the special menu after I was told where the fish were caught.
Eric ordered the Thai BBQ’ed chicken ($13.50) and substituted the white rice for brown rice for $1.00 more. It was stated that the chicken was marinated overnight with a blend of fresh garlic, lemon grass, curry, coriander, coconut milk and baked and then grilled. I had read a review already about the wonderful Mango Curry and it was $11 because I ordered it with squid. It was cooked in a red curry, coconut milk, semi-ripe mango, bell peppers and basic. When I placed my order I was prepared to tell the waiter that I wanted the spiciness to be mild, as admonished by the line on the menu stating “please ask your server for mild, medium, hot or Thai hot !” He never asked me, and Eric had to call him back to tell him how I wanted my meal cooked.
I wish that we could say that it was as wonderful as I heard it was. It took some time for the waiter to remove the summer roll plates from the narrow table and he passed us several times with nothing in his hands to prevent him from picking up the dirty plates. When Eric was served his chicken the rice was not there. I finally called the waiter over and asked him where the brown rice was, and when he returned he brought two bowls, not one. And, unfortunately, the rice was undercooked, sticky, and tasteless.
The dark meat of the chicken was much more flavorful than the white meat, which was very dry. I noticed that Eric ate almost all of the dark meat but left the white meat. The mango curry was very good; with a lot left over. I would have liked a few more pieces of the squid – I only had 3 pieces, but there may be more in the broth taken home.
Here is another interesting thing: Eric had the chicken to take home; I had the curry. We asked for two boxes – one for him and one for me. I don’t know how the language got mixed up, but when we got home we noticed that the waiter had split the curry into two containers as well as the chicken in two other containers. Both Eric and I took home curry and chicken. A little strange, we thought, but didn’t notice it until we were in our respective homes and we could not make a switch. Ah well, chicken mango curry for dinner tonight.
Would we go back? Interesting question. Although not terribly expensive – not cheap either – the total bill was slightly over $50 for the two entrees, summer rolls and bottle of sake and lemonade. The service was slower than it should have been, but all the servers were nice. The part about the grouper is disturbing to me, and I am wondering what fish was really served and called grouper. The fact that it was caught in San Diego Bay – at least that is what we were told – is also unnerving to me. So…would we go back. No. I don’t think so. It wasn’t that spectacular a meal when there are so many other Thai restaurants in the area. But it was a nice experience.