Thai Joints rule in the Heights – San Diego Reader

Posted: August 14, 2020 at 11:55 pm

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A family style spread picked up from Thai Joint

It sits within an inconspicuous stucco strip on Adams Avenue, smack in the middle of Normal Heights, with a generic sign bearing a generic name: Thai Joint. How many times have I driven past without stopping?

I had to be told its a sister restaurant to the University Heights Thai spot, Plumeria, and to Chi Extraordinary Kitchen, which is also on the stretch of Adams spanning the upper end of North Park (we might as well call it North Park Heights). Ive been fond of Plumerias vegetarian and vegan Thai Cuisine since it opened in 2012. And in the past five years, Ive also been wowed by Chi Extraordinarys focus on Thai seafood dishes. In other words, Thai Joint is worth stopping for.

A bland storefront and an almost forgettable name

Turns out, the original Thai Joint opened more than 15 years ago at a different Adams Avenue location. This ones only been open since 2018, but it doesnt seem like the residents of Normal Heights forgot the brand. Thai Joint has no patio or parking lot space to dress up as outdoor seating. Nevertheless, during the current pandemic closure, I continue to find a steady stream of customers picking up take-out.

Plastic sheeting covid fortifies the Thai Joint's ad hoc take out counter.

Theres a steady stream of delivery drivers representing pretty much every delivery app Thai Joint works with all of them. One of the drivers I meet while picking up an order shares how challenging it can be to lose weight while running deliveries. How hes on an intermittent fasting diet, which means he fasts during the day and only eats in the evening. He used to drive people around for Lyft, but switched to food during the pandemic. Now every time he picks up great smelling meals, it makes him hungry.

House made "e-sarn" Thai sausage

Thai Joint is one such challenging place, he says. When he clocks out, he occasionally returns as a customer. He vouches for the crispy tamarind wings ($).

I vouch for the house made E-sarn (a.k.a. Isan) style sausage. The ground pork sausage has a crispy skin, flavored with ginger, galangal, lemon grass, chilis, and herbs. You can spot the occasional grain of rice in there, responsible for a satisfying tang distinct from that of hot dogs. The $7 appetizer will appeal to sausage fans, and while you may find the same wings at Chi Extraordinary Kitchen, the sausage is exclusive to Thai Joint.

Coconut based red curry, with bell peppers, bamboo shoots, eggplant, and chicken.

Entrees represent the usual suspects of American Thai restaurants: coconut and lemongrass soups; curries of red, yellow and green; noodles and rice dishes featuring ginger, soy, and/or chili based sauces. To some extent these are all better than average, and cost $10 to $12 apiece, depending on your choice of protein, which at this location includes chicken and BBQ pork. Or, you can order a vegan version of just about any of them.

I dont know how the heights came to be blessed with such abundance, but its an easy area to pick up a great family-style feast. Just be warned, these Thai Joints revel is spice: anything higher than level 3 should truly burn.

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Thai Joints rule in the Heights - San Diego Reader

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August 14th, 2020 at 11:55 pm

Posted in Thai Chi