Oakland: New Thai restaurants open

Several new Thai restaurants have opened in the EBay, with more authentic (meaning: HOT) seasonings and interesting dishes. Please note that Spouse and I have eaten at only one of them – Monkey Thai/Alameda.

If anyone goes to one or all of them, please report back to the rest of us!

Jo’s Modern Thai, a highly anticipated new East Bay restaurant, in Oakland’s Laurel District opened July 23. Born of a partnership between chef Intu-on Kornnawong, who formerly worked at Michelin-starred Kin Khao and launched the popular Intu-on pop-up during the pandemic, and owner Kao Saelee, whose family is behind Berkeley Thai spot Racha Cafe, the restaurant offers bold Thai flavors.

Menu: https://josmodernthai.com/menu
Eater article: https://sf.eater.com/2021/7/20/22585482/oakland-jos-modern-thai-menu-intu-on-kornnawong

Wawa Thai Food – EBay Express highlights its authentic Northern Thai dishes: https://eastbayexpress.com/home-plate/. 3009 MacArthur Blvd., Oakland. Open Mon–Fri 11:30am to 2:30pm and 4–8:30pm; Sat–Sun noon to 3pm and 4–9pm. Wawa website: https://www.wawathaifood.com/order-pick-up

Per its owner: “Wawa Thai Food concentrates on the flavors of Northern Thailand, where she grew up. Pla Daek will feature dishes from the Northeastern part of the country, which shares a permeable culinary border with Laos.”

Pla Daek Thai Esan Food , 4133 Piedmont Ave. (between 41st Street and Ridgeway Avenue), Oakland – Owner/chef Wawa Maneewan of Wawa Thai has opened a larger restaurant with an expanded, unique Northeastern Thai menu: https://www.pladaek.com/menus

Lastly, not new except to Spouse and me. We visited twice in July 2021:
Monkey Thai Restaurant and Bar
2210 South Shore Center, Unit H, Alameda (South Shore Center Mall)
Menu: https://www.monkeythaiatsouthshore.com/menus-1
Cuisine: Northern Thai/Laotian

Although a long-time (2013) restaurant on Alameda’s Main St., this branch originally opened around 2016 in West Alameda, then apparently moved in 2018 or 2019 to South Shore Center. It’s located along the walkway between Starbucks and Old Navy, as one heads towards the center of the mall. The menu intrigued us so we tried it. Small, clean, very modern with nice décor. Tiny outside seating area in the mall walkway.

Nice young waitress but English was definitely her second language, so some miscommunication occurred during ordering. Still, we enjoyed what we ordered:

Tom Kha soup, fishcakes, and larb salad were very good, nothing exceptional.

Fried silkworms / Fried Crickets: Silkworms were actually pretty good – crispy outside, soft starchy interior, seasoned with a really great quality soya. Crickets were…crickets; I’ve had them before in Mexican cuisine and not been impressed. I wasn’t impressed here either, although the crunchiness is nice.

Sai Oua – Monkey Thai makes their own sausage and also sells it in 1-lb. frozen pkgs. It is fatter than Vientian Café’s version, but even hotter. If you have leftovers I warn you the heat INCREASES every day! Five stars if you’re a chile lover.

Larb Moo Kua: Northern Thai style ground pork with sticky rice. Very spicy ground pork stir-fry with offal; although located in the Salads, it would easily serve 2 as an entrée with a veggie or soup added. Excellent – but like the Sai Oua it keeps getting hotter every day!

Thai Style Crispy Pork Belly (Moo Tod): Thick sliced, fatty pork belly floured and deep-fried. Nice tart, slightly hot dip cut the richness, but this is for pork fat lovers only.

Garlic Noodles (chose tofu as protein): Split decision. I liked it, Spouse did not. He thought the oil was old, but I didn’t detect any rancidity. Neither of us cared for the fried tofu, however, and would choose chicken or just leave it vegetarian next time.

Khao Man Gai: Thai style street food chicken rice. NOT recommended; chicken is tasteless and bland, like a supermarket chicken.

Noteworthy that on our two weekday lunch visits, it seemed only SE Asians were there, including two (separate) sets of parents, each with their respective kids.

Also - there was NO sugar in anything we ordered at Monkey, except for a couple of the dips. None, zip, nada. Pure chile heat and lots of it!


As a former Easterner who now lives down the peninsula, I’m not only happy to see new restaurants opening, especially Thai places, but my first reaction was “Wawa Thai? There’s a WaWa here and they have Thai as well as sandwiches?” (Sorry…)

This last Sunday we went to visit friends in Oakland and got a bunch of takeout from Jo’s Modern Thai. Here is what we ate:

Their Chicken wings: I thought they were good- not too sweet and paired well with the tart dipping sauce

Sqid Larb: I enjoyed this more than the chicken wings. The squid itself was perfectly tender and fresh tasting. The dish was vibrant.

Lobster pad thai: I thought this was very good. There was one small lobster tail which we cut into four pieces so everyone got a piece. My husband did not think the lobster added much to the dish, but I thought it was very tasty paired with the pad thai.

Drunken noodle: Fabulous!!! from the menu: “Wok stirred fried mama noodle, Smoking Wood Bbq brisket, thai basil, garlic, yellow onion, bell pepper and young green peppercorn”. Without a doubt everyone’s favorite dish. The smokey brisket was meltingly tender and combined well with the green peppercorns and other spices.

Pork jowl curry: Very good.

Spicy green chili salsa with veggies dip: sort of a Thai version of baba ganoush. Excellent

Chicken Crackling: good

We tried both of the desserts:

Mango rice pudding
Taro custard tart

I thought they were good but there was mishap- They were placed in the freezer by accident when we arrived at our friend’s house so by the time we ate them they were slightly frozen, and were were all very full from the dinner.

Overall I thought the dinner was excellent and we will definitely go back.


geo12the, thanks for the full report on Jo’s! They are just down the street from us and we look forward to trying them eventually.

Unfortunately spouse is currently limited to a bland diet and although it’s working, he is DYING for some chile-hot dishes, LOL! Can’t have shellfish either, so most Asian food is off the table.