Michelin-Recommended. Traditional Isan-Thai and modern Thai-Lao cuisine.
Although San Francisco is no stranger to Thai restaurants, most places feature the usual suspects of pad thai, green curry and chicken satay. This style of Thai food is from Central Thailand, one of the many culinary regions in the country. Located in the Tenderloin neighborhood, Tycoon Thai is different, centered by an inventive Lao and Thai menu courtesy of its owner, Ashley Phiwjan.
Originally from Bangkok, Ashley opened Tycoon Thai in 2015 after years of working front of house at several San Francisco Asian restaurants. Her motivation was straightforward –– to own a restaurant that showcases her passion for her home cuisine. What makes Tycoon Thai stand out from the other Thai restaurants in the city is the Lao specialites. Lao food is rare in San Francisco as most Bay Area Lao restaurants are located in the East Bay cities of Oakland and Hayward.
The Lao specialities at Tycoon Thai are curated by its head chef, a Lao native with 30 years of cooking experience. While Lao and Thai cuisine (specifically northern Thailand) have similarities, such as sticky rice and papaya salad, Lao food has its own distinctive flair. Lao cuisine is pungent and rustic, with strong flavors of fermented seafood, fragrant herbs and grilled meats. Dishes like kao piak noodle soup, a soothing pork rib soup fragrant with fried garlic or pad mee lao (with housemade black bean sauce), Lao’s bolder and saltier answer to pad thai, are perfect examples of Lao flavors. Noticeably, Lao food also lacks the classic sweet and savory flavor profile essential to so many Central Thai dishes. Since Tycoon Thai features both styles, sampling that variety here is a must. The restaurant’s dedication to flavor and quality is obvious –– Tycoon Thai has appeared twice in the Michelin Guide (2016, 2017).