You could stand on a corner and look around until a restaurant sign draws you in. But we've got a better idea. Each week, Santee Patch picks a great restaurant, either in town or nearby, that is worth checking out. Here's this week's choice:
Overview: In the heart of Santee lies this Thai food gem, SAB-E-LEE Thai Food Restaurant. They specialize in authentic Thai cuisine with a very long menu, including Northeastern Thailand Style food. Most of their food is family style, though they offer a Lunch Special Menu that features less expensive entree plates meant for individual orders. Open since Nov. 2, 2009, SAB-E-LEE is already a popular place among locals.
Decor: One large ballroom sized dining area filled with tables, the restaurant is set up for large groups and family style dining. There is a huge flat screen TV in one corner in which they often show sports games on Sunday, including the Super Bowl last week. The decor and exotic flowers on each table make you feel like you've stepped into Thailand.
Entrees and Sides: Their menu features 85 dishes, not including desserts and lunch specials! Most traditional Thai dishes are found on their menu, including several types of curries, Pad Thai and other popular noodle dishes, traditional soups such as Tom Yum and Tom Kah, just to name a few.
I sampled a few of their menu options and was very impressed by the taste and presentation of the dishes. I started with an appetizer, "Bag of Gold," deep fried egg rolls wrapped with shrimp, shitake mushroom, water chestnut, served with a homemade plum sauce. These beautiful packages looked like coin purses, fried a crispy golden brown and bursting with juicy shrimp and mushroom deliciousness. The sweet plum sauce was the perfect finish to these, quite possibly the tastiest Thai bites I have ever tried (and I LOVE Thai food!) I will probably order these every time from now on.
The Tom Yum soup, appropriately named, was very light, satisfying and delicious. served in a Thai style hot pot, loaded with mushrooms and shrimp this hot and sour soup is the perfect dish for a cold evening.
I had to sample the traditional Pad Thai, often described as one of the signature Thai dishes, certainly the more popular American order. It came out as a large pile of noodles loaded with traditional veggies and a lot of shrimp, with pretty garnishes of carrots cut in the shapes of flowers. Beautiful and very appetizing, I was left slightly disappointed by the flavor of this dish. The traditional sauce was a bit light, not spicy enough, leaving the noodles a little bland. I love very spicy food and my guess is, like most Thai restaurants in America, they assume we American's can't take the heat! Next time I will ask for extra spicy.
Service: Quick and friendly service with "to-go" and delivery service.
Signature Dish: Not specified particularly, however Panang Curry, Pad Thai and Tom Kah soup are examples of traditional signature Thai dishes.
Address: 9159 Mission Gorge Rd., Santee 92071; Tel: 619-328-1568
Found a great place to dine? Let us know about it in the comments.