After hearing an awful lot about Sab E Lee and Sab E Lee 2, we finally made it to the Santee location. We didn’t take any pictures, and we were only able to get through a few dishes, but there are many, many posts out there for further information.
We used all those posts as inspiration (actually, more like a guide) to what to order. So, we started with Kra Throng Tong, little cups of chicken and veggies and spices, topped with a cucumber vinegar sauce. There were 8, perfect for splitting amongst 4 people (which is what we had). I thought they were good with or without the sauce and it was a nice start to our meal.
Travis’ barometer for Thai food is Tom Kha Ga, the coconut milk based one. Some of us are spice wimps, so I think we went with a Level 2 on the soup, with extra chiles on the side for Cami. I’m no connoisseur of soup, so I can only tell you that it was tasty, not too salty, not too spicy, and full of chicken and mushrooms.
Then we moved on to the Spicy Raw Beef, which is slightly different from Nahm Tok (which is different from Beef Salad?) but very, very good. And spicy. We were told that the lowest they could possibly make the dish would be a 6 or 7, which I kind of understand since it is called Spicy Raw Beef, so we went with a 6. I love the lime juice and chile flavors, the crunch of the rice powder, the coolness of the onions and lettuce… but this dish was so spicy I wanted to cry after a few bites. Like, it made my tongue hurt. Even worse, I still wanted to eat more! I ended up finishing what I had on my plate, eating lots of rice, drinking water, and then moving on to the Pinecone Halibut (which was temperature-hot and made my already-damaged tongue hurt) until I recovered. Then I would get a bit of rice, load it with a piece of beef, and eat it. One bite at a time.
I’ve since learned that the Thai Beef Salad at the place near our house is a decent substitute for when we don’t want to drive (oh-so-far!) to Santee. It’s seared beef, still rare in the middle, sliced thinly, but it has the same lime-chile-tastiness that I crave from the Spicy Raw Beef. Oh, and they let us order it at a 4, which is still spicy, but bearable. I have no idea if it’s a Beef Salad or Nahm Tok, but it’s tasty, which is good enough for me.
The Pinecone Halibut was fried fish with a sweetish vinegar sauce. Crispy on the outside, still moist fish inside, and a nice break from the spicy dishes.
We finished with sticky rice and mangoes and the fried bananas, which were coated in fried coconut. Have you ever had fried coconut? It’s crispy and crunchy with coconut undertones and it’s addictive to munch on.
So, I’ve learned that it’s quite rewarding to branch out and order things off the menu that you normally don’t order (I usually end up with pad thai or a curry from the lunch specials). I also learned that while I think I can handle crazy-spicy dishes, I really can’t and a 6 is way more than I can enjoy. I can do a 4… maybe on certain dishes a 5 would be tolerable, but for now I think we’ll go with 4 or lower. I don’t like my mouth mad at me during dinner because I’ve abused it with chiles.
Hi Leanne! Yeah, the Spicy Raw Beef can get really hot! I have to eat lots of rice and cabbage with it and can only eat a few bites at a time. My lips are usually ready to fall off by the end of the meal. It’s one of the reasons why we order everything else at medium heat.
Interesting… when we got it at Sab E Lee 2, it was served in little lettuce cups – no cabbage! We still scooped it up with rice, though. I ate the lettuce separately.
Hi Leanne – I’m glad you made it to SEL2. Funny thing is, I find the food there to be about 30% less spicy than the location on Linda Vista. And yes, Nahm Tok (waterfall beef) is different from Yum Nua – the beef salad.