Original Sab-E-Lee – I Don’t See What All the Hype is About

By: Annie Su

Would I go back?  Yes, but I would have to order two meals: one for me and one for the guy holding a gun to my head.  Just kidding, my experience at the Original Sab-E-Lee wasn’t quite as bad as Monica’s experience at Alessandro’s on Friends, but it was bad enough to turn me off forever.

I originally wanted to try this restaurant because it came highly recommended by friends and also has pretty decent reviews on Yelp.  This hole-in-the-wall restaurant on Ulric Street off of Linda Vista Road was definitely small (about the size of a single car garage), had almost no décor to speak of, and wasn’t exactly cheap.  Four entrees and a Thai iced tea came out to $37.50.  There is one teeny, tiny, parking lot outside.  I ordered my food to-go and shared it with my roommate and Motions writers Nicholas Weiss and Sabrina Piper.

Pad See Ewe, Spice Level 1

The noodles were a good consistency, the tofu (I ordered vegetarian) was a little hard and the accompanying “broccoli” was actually a weird spinach-type vegetable. Other than the spiciness (which I could handle just fine), there was no flavor to the entree.

Pad Thai, Spice Level 3

The noodles were rather mushy and the chicken was dry. It too did not have much flavor beyond the spiciness. For the “national dish” of Thailand, it should have tasted a lot better than it did.

Panang Curry, Spice Level 3

The soup was quite good, but there was very little material inside the soup. Sabrina ordered this vegetarian as well, and her tofu also tasted a little tough. Other than tofu, there were maybe a handful of peas, but nothing else. Additionally, none of the curries come with rice; it had to be ordered separately with its own separate charge.

Thai Iced Tea

This drink, which is an absolute a staple for me when I have Thai food, was almost unbearably sweet. I noticed that it was also pre-mixed, whereas more “legit” places offer their Thai iced teas made-to-order.

Verdict?  Don’t go to Original Sab-E-Lee.

If you want to cough up a few extra bucks, Lanna Thai in Pacific Beach has great décor, excellent service, and is rarely crowded, even on a weekend.  The restaurant has a moderate-sized parking lot, so you may have to park on the street, but their duck curry, panang curry and chicken satay appetizer are well worth it.  I can usually handle a spice level of 3, which I would consider a mild medium.  Their Thai iced tea is a perfect combination of milk, sugar and tea.  If you have room, which is rare for me, their mango sticky rice is a great way to end your meal.  Their pad thai isn’t as flavorful as I normally prefer, but it is nowhere near as bad as at the Original Sab-E-Lee.

I know you want to pop in your headphones, find a comfy spot in the LRC and get to work on that outline, but law students need to eat too!  So for those of you who have a propensity for Thai food, drive out to Lanna Thai for a meal that’s actually satisfying.

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