Larb woon sen, the perfect summer lunch
6925 Linda Vista Road, San Diego
The Linda Vista Original Sab-E-Lee changed location this year. Thai food fans know the small and authentic northeastern Thai spot as one of the best such restaurants in town and would anticipate a big move into more spacious digs.
Turns out this is a little move — just a half block up from its intersection on Linda Vista Road. And while the new dining room offers large windows and feels brighter and more open, in terms of space it’s not a lot bigger than the Ulric address. Still, any bit helps, as anyone who tried to eat at the old location on a Saturday night knows. That shop remains under the same ownership and is rebranded Thai Papaya in reference to a focus on papaya salad variations.
Sab-E-Lee moves to new Linda Vista location
Sab-E-Lee needed to keep the menu intact, and they did. And while the restaurant remains cash only, that minor drawback is ameliorated by the presence of an ATM a few feet away in the large parking lot.
That lot might prove to be the biggest advantage. The old location shared a small lot with a liquor store — this shares a huge lot with a shopping center full of restaurants and shops, so getting in and out will be much easier, especially with regard to take-out orders.
It usually takes me a good 15 minutes to go through the lengthy menu and decide between noodle dishes, curries, and stir fry. This day I decided to try larb, a Laotian salad featuring minced meat, chili, and lime. Sab-E-Lee offers it with the usual pork, chicken, tofu, and beef as well as catfish and duck. As fine as those last two options sounded, this was my first stab at larb, so I kept it simple, going for the chicken.
Since the dish primarily consists of the ground meat, spices, and green and red onions, I also opted for the larb woon sen, which features glass noodles. I figured a little starch would ease me into the concept. I needn’t have worried. The dish is served with fresh cucumber, cabbage, and mint leaves, and each of them provided outstanding accompaniment to the warm, spicy, and acidic chicken. I brought leftovers home, and eating it cold with a craft beer out of my fridge proved no less enjoyable.