Alameda Monkey Thai

Monkey Thai Restaurant and Bar
2210 South Shore Center, Unit H, Alameda, CA

two visits: July 2021

The dining room décor is serene and attractive. Small outside patio dining. Not everything is a win here. MT doesn’t push the boundaries; no smoked chili dishes, for example. But the foremost virtue is a very low level of sugar. This results in bright clean flavors, especially the spicy dishes. “Sour, sweet, salty, bitter and spicy” are the five flavors of Thai cuisine, although you might not know it these days from most SE Asian restaurants these days, which are apparently sweet, spicy, sweet, sour, and then more sweet.

Fried Crickets and Fried Silkworms . Yes, we tried them. The silkworms are pretty good, like short rounded French fries. I’m not a fan of crickets; I’ve always found them crunchy but nothing else.

Thai Sausage (Spicy Sausage): The waiter said they make their sausage in-house and also sell it to customers. They use lemon leaves; traditionally the recipe calls for kaffir lime leaves. A thick sausage, the same diameter but shorter than a German bratwurst. Coarsely ground with a wonderful spicy flavor. However, this sausage gets significantly hotter as a leftover. I had no trouble eating it freshly cooked, but after a day in the fridge and reheated, it was so incendiary my spouse had to finish it! Four sausages are now $14.95, cooked. We didn’t ask if the price differed on the uncooked (frozen) sausages.

Fish Cake: Standard, a little spicy, very firm texture.

Papaya Salad Lao Style With Crab (ordered mild): Tangy and spicy. I liked it, Spouse did not. The half-dozen deep-fried pork skins – the Thai version of chicharrones – were tasty and probably house-made. Due to a possible misunderstanding with the waitress, we are not sure if we received the similar but crab-less regular Papaya Salad in error, since we saw no crab in it.

Larb Moo Kua: Although listed under Salad, it is the size of an entree. Except for the overfried pork liver, this was very tasty. And VERY hot. Sticky rice is tamped down into a solid lump, as usual. Would easily serve 2 people with a veggie added.

Tom Kha (ordered mild): MT makes a good version, thumbs up.

Khao Man Gai: Thai style street food chicken rice. Thai version of the famed Hainan boiled chicken and rice. Cannot recommend MT’s version, the generic supermarket chicken is tasteless. One improvement the Thais do offer: no boring salt and pepper dip; instead nam prik noom , a sour, fresh green chile sauce of medium-heat.

Thai Style Crispy Pork Belly (Moo Tod): Thick-sliced pork belly, dry-floured and fried a dark brown. It was served with a tart, slightly hot dip that cut through the richness. Best ordered with a large party to share.

Garlic Noodle: On the bad side, neither of us approved of the fried tofu option. It tasted old and of stale oil. We thought this average, at best.

Hot Thai Tea. MT charges $1/cup for hot tea, but it’s well worth it – this is the vanilla-scented black tea that is rarely offered nowadays. Strong and fragrant, it’s a wonderful accompaniment to Thai food.