[San Jose] Regional Thai specialities from Must Be Thai

Must Be Thai is a newish Thai restaurant a block from the Valley Fair Mall on Stevens Creek, in San Jose. It is run by the team who operates Coup de Thai in Los Gatos. I haven’t been to their other restaurant. The bar for Thai food in the South Bay is low. If the menu doesn’t offer curry in every color pluls pad thai and pad see ew, its already quite an accomplishment.

Hence, I was quite intrigued when I looked at Must Be Thai’s menu and see that they featured a few items from each of Thailand’s regions- North, Isaan, Bangkok, the Gulf, and the South. And since I ate the Hat Yai chicken recently from Daughter Thai, I was curious how Must Be Thai would stack up.

Khao Soi- egg noodle in the curry plus a braised chicken drumstick plus crispy noodle. A pretty decent rendition, though the curry was a bit on the sweet side.

Hat Yai Fried Chicken- Perfectly fried with crispy skin, moist inside and delicious. Not quite as complex as Daughter Thai’s but the seasoning was still good and spot on.

Stir-fried cuttlefish. Tender cuttlefish came with some aromatics and salted egg. The salted egg was salty, as advertised. This was ok, though I was not in love with it.

Portion was smaller than that of usual Americanized Thai restaurants. Overall we were quite pleased with our meal and thought they were going for the quality versus quantity angle. Would love to sample more of their menu. If they can be the ‘Daughter Thai of South Bay’ with 80% of the skills I would be pretty happy.

Where’s the love for durian?


Another meal we had:

Khao king- minced pork with chopped green beans, curry paste and whole bunches of young green peppercorns (nam prik). A little bit of heat from the peppercorns and the curry paste , a little of tartness from maybe the green beans (pickled?) made for an enjoyable dish.

Khao yum- with anchan rice, and a sauce with some funk, various veggies. Decent but would be much better if they can dial up the funk- perhaps by asking for more of the sauce.

Mieng Kum Cha Plu (mieng kham)- It came with slightly bitter betel leaves with a sweet, salty sauce and some coconut flakes. Combine and wrap the components with the leaves. I think someone who likes coconuts may enjoy the dish more- there’s quite a bit of them.

Still promising, will keep sampling the menu. I wanted to try the hang leh curry but they were out.

Another good meal there with the goal of trying more new stuff versus reordering old favorites.

Pok Pok Phu- this is one awesome dish. The bottom was your standard green papaya salad done well, but the top- salted rice paddy black crab- stole the show. Sweet and savory. Completely different from dungeness crab, its one addictive crab. I obligated by sucking everything out of the shell.

Jin Gai- pulled chicken served with a light, tart broth. Aromatic, and a good dish for someone seeking something light.

Sriracha Noodle- flat rice noodles sauteed with prawns. I thought the sriracha, diluted, didn’t contribute much to the aroma.

Guay Teow Lord- soy sauce coated tofu, mashed pork, and pork belly? created a savory/ sweet combination. Pretty nice. This was a safe choice meant for the picky little eaters.

Hang leh curry. Disappointing. One dimensional sweetness with tough pork shoulder and tender pork belly I read this Northern Thai/ Burmese curry was supposed to be salty, sweet and sour. There was no tartness to speak of. Skip.

Overall, a good meal despite disappointment with the hang leh curry. If the right dishes. are picked, I maintain that Must Be Thai is the best thai choice in the South Bay. Will be back. Still haven’t tried exotic dishes like the alligator, etc.

I am kinda surprised how little we hear about Must Be Thai. Has anyone else been? A restaurant like this in Oakland will be all over the news by now.

Weekday happy hour and weekend brunch menu:


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