Sab-E-Lee revisit

After our initial visit to the Rancho Penosquitos Sab-E-Lee location, DH and I really wanted to make our way back.

We finally got a chance to a few weeks ago, enjoying a pleasant but also tongue-numbing spicy meal.

We arrived during the early dinner hours to find the place already completely packed and quite a few people waiting for tables. We ended up waiting a good 30 minutes before finally being seated.
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos
By the time we were seated, we were starving and ordered quite a bit for our party of three. Last time I had been here, we had ordered a spice level of 3 and it seemed manageable. So we went that route again. Unfortunately, this time it was much too hot. I know that they are heavy handed on their spice level, but I wish they would be more consistent.

Beef Salad
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos
Having always gotten the papaya salad, we decided to mix it up and try the beef salad. This ended up being the least spicy of our dishes and I kept coming back to it for some relief.

I love how the beef arrives barely cooked, and the spices and acid actually finish cooking the beef. I still prefer their papaya salad thought.

Salted Fish Fried Rice
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos
I really enjoyed this one. The entire dish had a strong flavor of the fermented fish. DH didn’t particularly care for salted fish so he didn’t really enjoy this one. Unfortunately, this was also one of the spiciest ones, so I had trouble eating a lot of it.

Drunken Noodles
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos
This is always one of my favorites and the wide flat noodles were cooked just right. It was also one of the spiciest dishes of the night so I couldn’t take more than two bites without turning to my water.

Pad See Ew
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos
Apparently DH was really craving carbs because he insisted on ordering all his carb favorites. Our entire meal other than the beef salad had rice or noodles, which of course he ate with more rice.

Pad Thai
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos

Mango with Sticky Rice
Sab-E-Lee Rancho Penosquitos

For dessert, we got the mango sticky rice. I can never resist ordering this dessert when it’s on the menu. I love the sweet sticky rice cooked in coconut milk and paired with slices of ripe mango.


We ended up leaving with quite a bit of leftovers because of how spicy everything was. Lesson learned. To air on the side of caution, we’re going with a level 1 from now on.

We will definitely be back soon. While this location is farther than the Linda Vista location for me, I love how much more space it has and the food quality is the same.

Sab-E-Lee
13223-2 Black Mountain Rd
San Diego, CA 92129
https://originalsab-e-lee.webs.com/

16 comments on “Sab-E-Lee revisit”

  1. Man, I gotta get back up there. Haven’t been back since our initial visit. Love that salted fish fried rice…..

  2. We’ve been to this Sab-E-Lee several times now (closer to home and much larger than LV). I haven’t had spice level issues with their entrees, only with their soup. I don’t mind a kick of spice (which I think would be a 3), but one spoonful and I’m dying! My husband likes it spicy so he ends up finishing the soup. I noticed how spicy the soup was at the LV location before the PQ restaurant opened.

    • The first time I was there, we ordered 3 for everything. Some things were barely spicy and some were super spicy even though everything was a 3. This time we ordered a 3, and everything was twice or three times as spicy as anything we had on our first visit. My friend, who is Thai and can handle spice, says he usually orders a 1 to be on the safe side. heh.

  3. I can’t decide if their spice level is inconsistent or high. I think your friend has a point – order 1 to be on the safe side. You can always make it spicier. Salted fish fried rice sounds yummy now – must try next time.

  4. Haha I do remember that even when everything was supposed to be 3, the spice level really varied… but that actually makes me want to try a higher level haha!

    • I’m going to stick with something low now. hehe. I don’t want to risk not being able to eat a dish if it’s too spicy.

  5. I learned my lesson also. I always ordered a 1 spicy level and that was enough and more consistent. Next time I recommend the catfish larb. That is a pretty unique dish that I don’t usually find in other Thai restaurants.

  6. I haven’t been back there since our lunch meetup. Now I want to try that salted fish fried rice too (and also my favorite Issan sausage)! Good to know about the inconsistency of their heat level. I’m a wimp. I would probably have it ‘0’ or ‘1’.

  7. I found that it depends if the dish already has chilis in it. The drunken noodles in the description lists chilis as an ingredient already, so when you order a 3 it’s the same amount of spice that they would add the rest of the dishes. Since pad thai doesn’t have chili in it already, a level 3 pad thai would be less spicy than a level 3 drunken noodle. That’s my interpretation of it since I live within walking distance of the restaurant. Also, there is a bit of inconsistency with the amount of food they give you. We ordered pad see ew one time and there wasn’t very much noodles, so the concentration of the spice was much greater. Still one of my favorite take out spots!

    tl;dr – I order a 2 just to be safe most of the time and anything that already has chili listed as an ingredient, I bump the spice level down by 1.

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