Kirbie's Cravings

Koon Thai Kitchen

Recently Koon Thai Kitchen opened on Convoy Street in the same plaza as Nijiya market, and taking over the location formerly held by Curry House.

I have found it remarkable how quick the turnaround is for restaurants in this plaza. For most restaurants, I see a sign that it will be opening soon, and then have to wait months and months before it finally opens. But in this plaza, it seems that as soon as I see the sign for the new restaurant, it opens within the same month.

First, I want to make clear, I don’t have a lot of experience with Thai food. I didn’t eat it growing up. The first time I had Thai food was after I moved to San Diego for college. I’ve heard that in general, San Diego does not have very good Thai food options. Even with my limited experience, I’ve felt the same from the places I have tried. So I was a little apprehensive about checking out Koon Thai.

The walls inside Koon Thai are mostly black. I did like the signs with Thai writing. As a side note, I had no idea what Thai characters looked like until recently. I actually learned what they looked like because a Thai blogger had linked one of my posts to his site. I was curious as to where the traffic was coming from and when his page loaded, I was completely confused. I told FH, “this blogger seems to be writing in Egyptian hieroglyphics.”  On a whim, I showed the site to my brother. Since my brother’s best friend is Thai, he immediately recognized the characters.

The restaurant has been split into two dining spaces, making it appear smaller than it is. As I perused the menu, I got a little more excited about the place. I liked seeing more than the usual popular “Americanized” Thai dishes on the menu. (Not that I don’t like the Americanized dishes. We order pad thai, thai fried rice, etc every time.)

We tried to mix it up, ordering foods we were familiar with and ones we weren’t.

Larb Woonsen (glass noodles mixed with ground chicken, calamari, mint, red shallot, cilantro, chili powder and lime juice)

I really liked this dish. I loved all the flavors and the spiciness. It was served with some lettuce and cabbage leaves. I wish they had given us more lettuce leaves. I also wish they gave bigger chunks of cabbage because the wedge of cabbage we were given was very narrow.

Pla Sahm Rod (fried fish fillet with spicy sweet sour sauce and green peppers).

I’ve tried this dish somewhere else before, and it tasted similar. I’m not sure if this is how it is supposed to taste, but I liked it. When I read the description, it reminded me of a chinese dish: “porcupine fish” which is also a fish dish that is fried and served with sweet and sour sauce. The fish is made to look like a porcupine. It seemed like the two large fish fillets we were served here were also cut to resemble porcupines.

Thai fried rice

I was a little disappointed with the quantity. Usually fried rice dishes are much bigger since rice is a cheap ingredient.

Thai Karie Curry (Karie curry paste with potatoes and onions in coconut milk)

I’ve never had this curry before. I was surprised that it looked a lot like chinese and japanese curry.

Pad Thai

Pad Kee Mao (flat rice noodles, stir fried with garlic, egg, fresh chili, onion, tomato and basil)

I enjoyed this dish. The noodles were still a little chewy and I liked the use of fresh chili and basil.

For dessert. we had a mango sticky rice. I liked the generous amount of mango slices we were given. The mango was sweet, the sweet sticky rice was good too.

Overall, we liked the food here. My biggest criticism was that I thought the portions were a little too small.  While probably not as authentic as some place like Sab-E-Lee, I think it is better than a lot of the other Thai places we’ve visited in San Diego.

The restaurant also offers some lunch specials which are available Monday through Saturday. I will have to come back to check out the lunch specials.

Koon Thai Kitchen
3860 Convoy St
San Diego, CA 92111
(858) 514-8111



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12 comments on “Koon Thai Kitchen”

  1. hi kirbie – wow, that was quick. i just found out that curry house had closed and now this place is up! must try it sometime now that i’m on summer break. lots of opportunities for sure on convoy street.

    the mango you are referring to is the manila mango, the smaller yellowish orange heart shaped mango. they taste so much better than the bigger greenish/red mangoes and have less fibrous pulp (it seems) as well as a smoother texture.

    • Yes, I agree with you that they have less fibrous pulp and they are sweeter and smoother. I always see cases of them being sold at turo turo places.
      I can’t believe how quick the turnaround was either. But I felt the same when Spicy House opened and pho + grill. They seemed to appear really suddenly whereas other places on Convoy like Chin’s and Manna bbq took so many months before opening.

  2. Sorry if this is a double post but my computer just went haywire …

    I was just at Nijiya over the weekend and didn’t think this place was open yet! That was A FAST take over!

    Sis and i were at Curry House few weeks back and the owner told us that they couldn’t afford to renew the lease or something? Sad to see them go. They has an amazing lunch special. But I felt that their regular prices were a bit steep.

    I looked at your photo of their lunch special menu – NOT BAD, not bad at all. Decent prices – so i think it’ll be worth a try for lunch? Just wonder if their lunch portions will be decent.

    How spicy do you get your Thai food (on scale of 1-10 )? Did they have good spicy-ness factor here?

    I don’ t know how Thai places always have THE MOST amazing mangoes for their desserts. Have you ever noticed that? Super sweet, super ripe. I always think they have some secret magic trick to make them sweet (like injecting them w/ sugar or something!).

    Nice post !

    • Yup it’s open. The lunch specials look good, I want to check them out too. We ordered medium spicy and I thought there was a decent amount of heat. It was completely dumbed down where you don’t taste the spice at all. My brothers were complaining that the larb was too spicy.
      I’m pretty sure that the mangoes used in the sticky rice are the yellow mangoes. I’m sure you’ve seen them before. they are smaller than the common mango we see, and sold at Ranch 99, Vietnamese markets, filipino turo turo joints. Small, with yellow skin. They tend to be sweeter. I see them used a lot in Thai, Filipino, Malaysian cuisine.
      Oh and the comments thing should be fixed, so let me know if you get another error!

  3. Bye bye Curry House….

    I’m the same way with Thai food. I’ve had some new dishes but I still love my classics like pad thai and panang curry. 🙂

    That fish dish looks yummy!

    • I was kind of sad to see Curry House go. I don’t actually go much (I thought it was pricey for curry I can make myself), but it’s been around for so long, it was weird to see it disappear.

  4. Wow Kirbie! Gotta check it out now. Thanx for the review. I didn’t even know Curry House went out of business…although not surprised that it did.

    • Yes, I’d love to know what you think! I was thinking of that when writing this post last night. You can tell me how authentic it is.

  5. I was at the other end of that strip mall yesterday, and just assumed that the Thai restaurant hadn’t opened yet (read about the change on mmm-yoso). I work in the area, so I’ll have to check out the lunch specials.

    • The lunch specials look like a good deal. I took a picture of the lunch specials menu, you should be able to view it from the post. I think I noticed it was open about two weeks ago.

  6. Hey Kirbie – That Pla Sahm Rod is the equivalent of Song Shu Gui Yu (????). I’ve had it at a couple of other Thai places.

    • Yes! That is the chinese dish I was thinking of! I thought it was supposed to be equivalent but I wasn’t sure. Hmm, I wonder why chinese characters don’t show up in comments. I need to look into that.