website for reservation http://www.cocinasunae.com/
Sometimes it is a struggle to love southeast asian cuisine in the States having been spoiled living in Asia, and more so now living in Argentina- a country of simplicity spiced with salt. Though finally having the courage to check out Cocina Sunae, that air of arrogance unexpectedly gave away when the smells from Sunae’s kitchen was a reminder of home. That same adrenaline rush of comfort in SF, drowning myself in the chit-chat of Thai, breathing in the smell of basil, chilis and fried frog legs; or growing up in the streets of Asia, dropping a few coins, and get down and dirty with punches of rich spices. In this city of blandness, Sunae’s cooking is a fortunate existence, a relief from the over-designed ambiance of Thai restaurants, when the appearance seems more important than the substance of the dishes.
Walking into the flickering of candles, passing a tiny garden, and into a dimly lit dining room space. The beautiful colourful painting, big mirror, southeast asia elements scattered around the room, with the freshness of flowers, candles, and soothing music makes it a perfect place for a low-key relaxing meal with close friends and love ones. The service though some can say a bit slow, to me is nonintrusive with the attention to details.
Sunae’s approach in flavours and authenticity are meticulous- the full attention to details, and her strive to evolve and improve can be seen in her dishes. She doesn’t give in to blandness, and isn’t afraid to create layers of unfamiliar flavours. Instead of omitting the kaffir lime leaves from shrimp cakes (like most restaurants do in this side of the world), she boldly mixed it into the delicious fried bites. She isn’t afraid of using big quantities of shallots, onions, and my favorite- pork fat. Her new dish, Ren dang, beef braised for hours in spices like cinnamon, cardamom, lemongrass was one of my favorite dishes. Not only are the mains delicious, everyone raves about her homemade asian-inspired dessert, and the addictive asian-inspired cocktails – and you can add me to that list now. Definitely a must-go if you want a break from meat, carbs and cheese. Price? 110 pesos ($26) for a four-course meal, not including alcohol- a very fair price compared to other southeast Asian restaurants in town.
- food: authenticity and punch of flavours
- good price
- closed door restaurant experience: perfect ambiance for a low-key night
- cocktails and good wine menu
- not a communal table closed door restaurant experience some may desire or expect