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Orchid Thai and Vegetarian Cuisine
762 North Johnson Avenue #106, El Cajon

Montry Sengsouriya opened this restaurant as a fancy place, with tablecloths, napkins, and flowers. But that scared the locals off, so now you sit at Formica tables and use paper napkins. What hasn't changed is the excellent Thai food he serves, or his excellent prices. The menu is a mixture of Thai, Lao, and Chinese. Best deal: the 15 permanent lunch specials, from pepper steak (given a Thai twist) to chicken yellow curry to garlic pepper pork. Larb, the Laotian ground chicken salad, is also delicious and filling. The owner is Laotian. His mom cooks as she did at home. Finish up with a tiny bottle of Kratin Daeng, similar to our Red Bull. It's a vitamin elixir the Thais and Lao love to glug for energy.

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