Bangkok Bay is San Diego's best hidden gem. This authentic Thai eatery is tucked away in the back corner of a strip mall on the border between Del Mar and Solana Beach, and has become a secret favorite of the North County locals.
Upon first glance, Bangkok Bay doesn't look like much--in fact, it's pretty easy to miss. The restaurant itself is super tiny, and tables are crammed in next to each other to allow for maximum patronage (which is a good thing as wait times on weekend nights can be horrendous). Decked out in kitschy Asian-inspired paintings and decorations, Bangkok Bay completes the ambiance with traditional Thai music chiming softly in the background. Let's just say, the interior decoration is not it's strong point.
The menu at Bangkok Bay is not entirely vegan, but they offer many vegan-friendly options. From fresh summer rolls to fried tofu, the plant-based plates are plentiful. The only thing you really need to know about this tiny Thai joint though is that their Pad See Ew is literally the. best. thing. ever. I'm serious, that's all you need to know.
Wide flat rice noodles are covered in a sweet soy sauce and served with Bok Choy, carrots, broccoli, zucchini, and tofu (if you order it with vegetables and tofu as I typically do). The veggies are always cooked to perfection, the noodles are deliciously tender, and the sauce is drool-worthy. I really enjoy adding a bit of plum sauce to my Pad See Ew, but some people may find that makes it too sweet. The Pad See Ew is usually served with egg, so make sure you specify no egg if you're following a vegan diet. It's also fish sauce free, so my vegetarian friends can safely order this dish without worrying about harming our sea dwelling friends.
Bangkok Bay is the one restaurant I always make a point to go to in San Diego. I literally dream about the food there and would eat it everyday if my pocket book and waistline weren't an issue. For my budget-minded readers, stop in for lunch and order the Pad See Ew as a lunch special. For around $8, you get a big portion of noodles and a bowl of their soup of the day (make sure to ask if it contains any animal products--some do). Otherwise, pop in for dinner, just be sure to make a reservation!