By ROBIN DOHRN-SIMPSON
It began, as it so often does in cooking, with grandma.
In this case, the Yay (Thai for grandmother) was a first-generation immigrant who started her American life in Ohio before finding her way to San Diego. Fortunately for all concerned, she brought with her a wealth of recipes and cooking traditions from her home in Bangkok, Thailand. Her family followed and the traditions continue to this day. The entire family loves to cook and eat Thai food. Third-generation sisters currently run and cook for the family’s Bamboo Fresh Thai Cuisine Restaurant.
Bamboo Fresh Thai Cuisine in La Mesa is a neighborhood restaurant that is clean, comfortable and welcoming. They serve tasty and healthy food. Many of grandma’s recipes are still on the menu: Massaman Curry, Penang Curry, Stuffed Chicken Wings (a well-loved yet difficult recipe to cook), and Curry Puffs.
“We serve Bangkok cuisine, not too hot, not too spicy, with an American twist,” said granddaughter Suwalai. “We’ve adjusted our recipes for the American palate. Americans love vegetables and coconut milk and are not super crazy about fish sauce. Many of our customers are vegans also.”
Some specialties of the house are Panang Crispy Duck, roasted duck with bell pepper, and topped with Panang Sauce. Pla Lard Ginger, a deep-fried fish topped with stir-fried sliced ginger and vegetables. Kapow Kai Krob is a crispy chicken stir-fried with bell peppers, onions and topped with crispy basil. If you are a steak lover try the Tiger Cry Steak, a grilled steak served with Thai Spicy Sauce. One of grandma’s recipes is Khao-Soi Noodle Curry, with Creamy Curry Soup, served with either beef or chicken, seasoned with cilantro and scallions, and topped with crispy egg noodles and coconut cream.
Currently, they are doing a busy take-out business; however, the restaurant is open for indoor seating. For a complete menu go to bamboothaicuisine.com.
Located at 7953 University Boulevard, they are open for lunch and dinner six days a week (closed Sunday).
– Robin Dohrn-Simpson is a local food and travel writer. Reach her at robindohrnsimpson.com.