This weekend, the Osha Thai restaurant group celebrates its 21st anniversary with a banquet that will serve one course for each year the small chain has operated in San Francisco.
“People tend to think of Osha as a chain, but each one is family-owned,” said Paul Vong, Osha's managing director. “Twenty years ago, there weren’t nearly as many Thai food restaurants in the city,” he said, adding that he believes Osha helped Thai food become a local staple.
Restaurateur and executive chef Lalita Souksamlane opened the first location on Geary Street in 1997. Years later, she transformed the SoMa Osha location into Lao Table, combining flavors and dishes inspired from her native Laos with a fine dining atmosphere. The spot opened a year ago after 7 months of renovation.
In addition to Lao Table, the Osha group has locations on Valencia, at Embarcadero, 3rd Street, Geary and an express to-go eatery at the One Market Food Plaza. There are also three locations in Bangkok, the first of which opened in 2014.
The restaurant's decor is inspired by northeastern Thailand and Laos tradition. "We have traditional plaid wallpaper, which is a textile for celebration in Laos." said Lao Table’s general manager Kitty Saichua. “We also have handmade bamboo chandeliers that are inspired by chicken cages."
According to a press release, Soulksamlane is "introducing modern cooking techniques that incorporate authentic ingredients rarely tasted in San Francisco.”
Some of the most popular dishes include appetizers like Laotian-style pork sausage and a spicy tuna tartare served with toasted baguettes.
Saichua praises the Suae Hong Hai steak and highly recommends the Garden Fish—a whole crispy tilapia that's served with beef jerky, beef and chicken satay, and chicken wings with fresh vegetables, basil and lettuce to make your own wraps.
“We want people to feel comfortable eating with their hands,” said Saichua. Appetizers are $9–$20, with entrees starting at $17 for noodle bowls and topping out at $70 for the garden fish, which serves two.
Lao Table also offers Southeast Asian beverages, including a light lager from Laos, wine, and an assortment of Thai cocktails.
The Pineapple Millionaire (vodka, passion fruit and dried chili) and Smile Buffalo (Thai rum, mint, lime and a free buffalo keyring) are the bar's most popular selections.
Osha Thai's anniversary event will take place at Lao Table at 149 2nd Street on Sunday, October 29th, from 6:00pm-9:30pm.
Reservations can be made by calling Saichua at 415-296-6095. The 21-course anniversary meal comes with Singha Beer and a surprise live show the staff is keeping hush-hush.
"There are a lot of Thai places in the city, but practically none that focus on this kind of high quality Laotian food." said Vong. "We want to keep sharing our work with our friends and we want to thank our customers for their support."
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