San Francisco’s Osha Thai Celebrates 25 years of PopularityAug 13, 2021 02:29PM ● By Fran Miller
BY FRAN ENDICOTT MILLER
Osha Thai’s continued success could certainly be attributed to its extraordinary location within San Francisco’s Four Embarcadero Center. The large picture windows that overlook Justin Herman Plaza and the Ferry Building, and the small outdoor patio (the recipient of cooling bay breezes) are definite factors in the restaurant’s 25 years of popularity. But if relocated to even the most un-trafficked region of The City, the beloved Thai restaurant would likely still be on everyone’s ‘favorite’ list. Location is definitely a plus, but it’s the delicious cuisine and craft cocktails that keep this local icon in the spotlight.
San Francisco’s quintessential Thai restaurant, Osha Thai was founded by Lalita Souksamlane who initiated her Osha Thai journey with the opening of the Osha Thai noodle house on San Francisco’s Geary Street in 1996. As one of the first Thai restaurants in the city, Osha Thai served the authentic dishes on which Souksamlane and her sister were raised, and San Franciscans embraced the distinctive flavors. Since that first opening, Souksamlane has established Osha Thai as a renowned leader in the Bay Area’s culinary scene. What began as a small noodle spot on Geary Street has become an empire known for swanky presentation and decor.
Osha Thai’s menu remains true to its authentic origins, while also featuring an array of modern flavors. Signature dishes – each as ornately presented as they are delicious - include the Tuna Tower with layers of tuna tartare, cilantro, mango, and avocado in a toasted garlic and Sriracha-sesame sauce served with fried wonton. The Volcanic Beef has been on the menu since 1996, and features premium grilled flank steak topped by a tower of onion rings and herbs and overflowing with secret ‘lava sauce.’ Delicate Coconut Curry Dumplings, filled with fresh vegetables, are sublime. The yellow curry marinated Chicken Satay with peanut curry sauce is a fan favorite, and the Angry Prawns, served with curry paste and Kaffir lime leaf over fried eggplant, is a bursting mélange of flavor.
Equally impressive are the crafted cocktails, specifically for which many venture to the restaurant. Every spirit in every hue is represented within the menu of originals such as the colorful Tropical Mezcal Margarita with Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Triple Sec, passionfruit, pineapple, lime, and chili salt rim, or the Purple Pattaya with dry gin infused purple flower, Chase Elderflower, lime, vanilla, and sparkling wine. Brew fans will want to try the Osha Thai Tom Yum beer, enhanced by red chile and cucumber garnish.
In 2016 Souksamlane marked Osha Thai’s 20th anniversary with the opening of a brand-new concept, Lao Table, providing San Franciscans an even more personal peek into her life. Lao Table highlights cuisine from her particular home region of Northeastern Thailand / Laos.
Today Souksamlane continues to broaden her Osha Thai empire horizons with her most recent venture, Bann at Oak Knoll Napa, a resort-style bed & breakfast in the heart of Napa Valley featuring a stunning organic garden from which she harvests ingredients for Osha Thai.
Photos courtesy of Osha Thai
Osha Thai, Four Embarcadero Center, San Francisco