Still we decided not to despair, but to leap into action in Thai Quest: to try each Thai restaurant in Zurich, take notes, and find out which is the best, and which is the best buy. Soon we had recruited an expedition crew of a half dozen stalwart hungry souls, steeled to use their palates in the cause of gastronomical research.
Here are our results, as judged by a few of the organizers. Of course the opinions are subjective: the best thing is to try a Thai Quest of your own!
Under Price, we list the total bill divided by the number of people. We made no attempt to compensate for the fact that there were more appetizers or more Singhas one night than another, so this offers only a very rough idea of the prices. The Singha index was measured more consistently: to ensure that the essential accompaniment to Thai food, namely Singha beer, is within everyone's reach, we created a scale of 0 to 6 Singha Lions: The most expensive beer we found is the comparison point with Fr. 15 = 0 lions and forms the top of the price scale:
It must be said .... the Singha scale does suffer from the fact that we've done tests over the course of 15 years, so prices noted at different times aren't really comparable. Oh well, testing the Singhas was still fun.
In the other categories, we distilled a consensus out of the various comments, but included noteworthy dissenting opinions.
NEWLY TESTED Roi Et (June 2013) Ah Hua II (May 2010)
||Schöneggstrasse 30, which is an extension of Militärstrasse just off of Langstrasse; Tel. 044 291 58 30|
||A small cozy place with Thai decor - I like the two Thai figures kneeling in the window.
||Fr 50/person (2013) with appetizers and drinks. The main dishes we had cost 25 to 29 francs, with rice an extra 6.50 (or 13.50 for fried rice). (Their web site says there are lunch specials for Fr 20 including rice.) Singha index: (Fr. 6.00).|
||Highly recommended. The food is very good, and there's a whole page of specialties from Laos. Thanks once again to Nicola and Silvia for the tip!|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Ant egg soup (tom sam pla) - is something you don't see in Zurich every day.
Basically a fish soup with little white bits of protein floating in it, a Lao specialty.
To be honest, the eggs don't really add anything to the taste, but they are a novelty (and a hint of what further adventures await you in Thailand and Laos).
Nicola found out: if you ask for the 5 chili treatment, you get it; your face may turn 5 chili red!
Pad phet tofu was good,
lab pet is a kind of tartar - the menus says it's duck with lemon, chili powder, spring onions and coriander - and was also very good,
as was the
Pad nam man hoi (beef with broccoli and oyster sauce).
As far as appetizers, the thod man pla, spicy fish cakes were delicious, and the
old standard, tom kha gai soup went down well.
|Ah Hua II
||Ankerstrasse 110, near Langstrasse ; Tel. 044 240 38 88|
||Not a lot of Thai decor,
but bright and friendly, with lots of hubbub - this place is popular!
||Fr 30/person. Probably the best prices in town for Thai food in a sit-down setting. Most dishes are from 18 to 23 francs, with an extra 3 francs for rice. Singha index: (Fr. 4.50).|
||Highly recommended. The food is excellent, at moderate prices! Thanks to Nicola and Silvia for the tip!|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The red curry (cäng deng, I'll omit the numbers,
as they're different online than on the menu in the restaurant)
was excellent, spicy and creamy, with delicious shrimps.
Gai pad med ma muang (ma muang means mango, but there's none in the dish - but www.thai-language.com offers some help: met ma muaang him ma paan means cashew!)
is a delicious spicy dish of chicken, dried chilis, onions, cashews,
unlike any other Thai dish we've had.
Suzanne and Horst recommend the
the soup, cäng pae sein sen, is probably the hottest dish on the menu
and full of exotic ingredients like sator-beans, kaprau leaves and something tiny and squash-like;
the plamuk thod gratiem is plain in comparison but lets you concentrate on the calamari.
|News||OUT OF BUSINESS! No more Thai food in Bahnhof Stadelhofen :-(|
||Bahnhof Stadelhofen (Stadelfhofenstrasse 8), underground passage beneath the tracks, south end; Tel. 044/251 22 18|
||Chinese paintings on
walls. Quite pleasant for a train station. You can forget
that you're actually hearing the trains rumbling overhead.
||The lunchtime buffet is now Fr. 25 (was Fr 20, reported Barbara.) Singha index: (Fr. 5.00).|
||Barbara says the Sai Somsak folks opened this place. "The food is very good and, especially for Zürich, moderate prices!"|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The veggie curry is
good, spicy but still edible. The buffet has a nice range of
dishes (including sushi, the only non-Thai dish we noticed). Get
there early for the buffet - when something runs out, they don't refill
61; Tel. 044/382 18 88
food at sit-down prices
the few Swiss restaurants where you get the feeling you're not welcome
to sit when you're done with your meal. Maybe it's just because
it's so full, and you know someone's waiting for your table.
as a sit-down Thai restaurant without the advantages.
liked the food better and ambience better when it was a take-away.
chicken curry consists of chicken and a sauce. The vegeratian
soup is a mushroom soup. Normally Thai cooking is the art of
combining many different ingredients and flavors into a surprising
whole. You can forget that here.
|News||OUT OF BUSINESS! The sun has set on the entire Sunset group, it appears. The address is now Italian - Restaurant Aroma, as in a Roma.|
|Location||Asylstrasse 110 (near Klusplatz), Tel. 044/380 61 00|
|Ambience||Modern interior with some Thai decorations, quiet. Not bad in itself, but so crammed full of tables that the atmosphere is rather claustrophobic.|
|Service||Average. The personnel is schooled to ask each customer (in disbelief?) if they didn't really mean to order an appetizer. As soon as your Singha is empty, you're asked if you want another – which would be called good service in the US, but gives a pushy impression in Zurich.|
|Price||Fr. 50 / person (including only 1 appetizer for 4 people). Singha index: (Fr 7.80 – did Sunset raise its prices again?) Prices are too high for this lifeless restaurant.|
|Remarks||This is definitely the least attractive of the three Sunset restaurants (and Sunset Thai is (was) our favorite overall). The small rooms aren't well suited for comfortable dining – perhaps the reason why two previous restaurants there closed down within a period of about 3 years? The waiter greets people with "sawatdi kaa", the feminine form – is he making a statement, or doesn't he speak Thai? Lacking the pleasant atmosphere, you feel you're not getting what you're paying for – check out the other places on this list first.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The standard Sunset menu. The amuse bouche to start with is a nice touch, as are the hot towels. The food was good, not outstanding.|
|Remarks||OUT OF BUSINESS! The location is still an Asian restaurant, but no longer Thai :-(|
|Location||Waffenplatzstrasse 1, Tel. 044/202 41 81|
|Ambience||Modest looking on the outside, cozy on the inside with nice Thai decor, cloth-covered menus.|
|Price||Fr. 51 / person. Singha index: (Fr 6.00) Prices are too high for the rather lame cuisine.|
|Remarks||For a change of pace, Petit Thai offers several Laotian dishes and green papaya salad, which you don't find everywhere.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The food seems to have been toned down for Swiss tastes, to the point where it's not very interesting any more. The menu has no star (or chili!) rating, and the food certainly doesn't require it. Some of us noted the monosodium glutamate as well. Too bad; with better food, this would be a very nice little place.|
|News||OUT OF BUSINESS! Oh no, why don't these great Thai places stay in business?? This address is now the Pakistani-run MediterRana, which sounds great, but has no place on our Thai Quest site.|
|Location||Albisstr. 81, Tel. 482 10 00|
|Price||Fr. 55? / person. Singha index: (Fr 7.80) More expensive than the prices we experienced at the sister restaurant, Sunset Thai – but according to the downloadable menus on their web sites, Sunset Thai has raised its prices meanwhile.|
|Remarks||Nice option if you live in Wollishofen.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments|
|Location||Hotel Marriott, Neumuehlequai 42. Tel: 360 73 22|
|Ambience||Rather quiet and "gemuetlich," although the contrast to the high rise Hotel Marriot it's located in is somewhat jarring. The Thai atmosphere is fairly nice though: a wooden ceiling sports Thai objects, and the mural in the stairway leading down to the rest rooms is not to be missed: it seems to depict a sort of Buddhist hell! The background music was slightly annoying, but the hot towels after the meal are a nice grace note.|
|Service||Friendly and competent, but one tester thought they didn't have enough personnel to pay proper attention to all the tables.|
|Price||Fr. 70 / person. Singha index: (Fr 6.90) Prices are generally near the pain threshold, pushing the price/performance ratio below average.|
|Remarks||"Nice place, but not really worth the price."|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Fritierte
Riesencrevetten, gebratene Glasnudeln: to be recommended, but somewhat
expensive. Vegetables and curry with shitake and tofu: spicy hot,
but otherwise nothing special... Fritierte Riesencrevetten,
gebratene Glasnudeln, Ente, Nudeln, Gemuese: fresh and very good,
nicely differentiated, large portions.
No Massaman curry...for some reason I always feel like Massaman when I'm there, and I'm always disappointed.
|Location||Neue Hard 9. Beneath Hardbruecke not far from Escher-Wyss Platz, opposite the Kerrichtsverbrennungsanlage. Tel: 445 90 20.|
|Ambience||Quiet and uncrowded. Some found atmosphere lacking, others found the carved wood interior pleasant. The decoratively carved vegetables on the plates are very nice. Hot towels after the meal are refreshing.|
|Price||Fr. 53 / person. Singha index: (Fr. 6.50 (Singha Gold)). Price/performance good.|
|Remarks||OUT OF BUSINESS! They shut down sometime in July or August 2001!? If you work at ZKB or Kuoni, you can still eat lunch at this location - it's now the cafeteria Piazza.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Best Tom Kha Gai soup of all the places we tried. Other food good, but not of the same caliber.|
|Thai Market (formerly Sunset Thai)|
|News||New owners, new name! Sunset Thai is now Thai Market.|
|Location||Birmensdorferstr. 488, at Triemli tram station. Tel. 463'6570|
|Ambience||Bright pleasant atmosphere with relaxing classical music (if it's not Thai music, at least it's not Radio 24!) Food is attractively presented, and hot towels afterward leave you feeling clean.|
|Service||Discreet and correct.|
|Price||Fr. 45 / person. Singha index: (Fr. 7.30) Price/performance: in Ordnung (Tester 5).|
|Remarks||Testers 2, 6: Our favorite! Nicely spiced food. BTW, also a gay meeting point, it is said.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Gemuese Suppe: angenehme Schaerfe. Red curry w/vegetables: mild. Kleine scharfe Vorspeise (Tester 5). Tester 2: the free appetizer was yummy. Dishes without a 'hot' star were also somewhat spicy.|
|Location||Zwinglistrasse 39, near Langstrasse. Tel: 242 69 70. Open Monday-Sunday, 10:00-23:00.|
|Ambience||One of those places where there are Thai decorations right where the last owner probably hung the Alphorn. Yet the "Beiz" atmosphere has its charm.|
|Service||The waiter was friendly, and helped us count to 10 in Thai, but rather forgetful (and when it's the Singhas that are being forgotten, that means points off!)|
|Price||Fr. 45 / person. Singha index: (Fr. 5.00). Price/performance good according, but the soups were disproportionately expensive. (All soups and salads cost over Fr. 20, but the main courses were reasonably priced.)|
|Remarks||One tester remarked "satisfied all-round".|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Nuea Sub Kanompang Poww Tod (wuerzige Fleischcroquetten, paniert, goldbraun gebacken): from just acceptable to edible, but with a hint of microwave. Panaeng Curry: exotic and intersting, with a well-rounded taste, but at Fr 33 about 1/3 too expensive. Fritiertes Gemuese und Green Curry: spicy and good. Penang curry with beef very good. Everything was fresh.|
|Remarks||OUT OF BUSINESS! Anna says they shut down, and though I haven't stopped by to check it, the internet offers hints that it's true. They're no longer in the phone book.|
|Location||Mattengasse 11, near Langstrasse. Tel: 044/271'39'60|
|Ambience||The improvised "Wintergarten" behind the strip bar is rather cheesy, the atmosphere near non-existent.|
|Service||Comments range from "non-existent" through "demotivated" to "correct". This is the only restaurant we tried where taking orders consists of dropping a pad on the table where you can write down the dish numbers you want. The waitress refused to settle the bill individually.|
|Price||Fr. 60 / person. Singha index: . Much too expensive.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||An online review said this was a good place to eat if you didn't mind having a stripper's underpants land on your table. We ate in the back room (sans strippers), but in any case there didn't seem to be any action onstage. Not much in the kitchen either. You have to know which dishes to order: the curries including the Massaman are good, but some dishes are practically without taste. Although the consensus was rather against Sawasdee, it has one strong advocate amoung us: he finds the food and atmosphere authentically Thai, and heartily recommends the fiery shrimp noodle salad.|
|News:||The NZZ am Sonntag (thanks Kryzz) reported on September 4, 2005 that Sukhothai has closed, but you can still have the renowned cook grill a cervelat for you at home, if your wallet is fat enough.|
|Location||Erlachstrasse 46, a side street near Schmiede Wiedikon, an odd location for a place this pretentious. Tel: 462 66 22|
|Ambience||Small, somewhat crowded, with thick tablecloths.|
|Service||Very attentive. However, the owner overstepped the bounds of politeness (perhaps inadvertently but certainly arrogantly) when his answer to "Is the food very spicy?" was "Die Thai Kueche hat eine gewisse Schaerfe. Wenn Sie es nicht vertragen, mussen sie Cervalat essen."|
|Price||Fr. 135 / person!! Singha index: Disqualified! A place with 1000 franc a bottle wine isn't able to serve authentic Thai beer? Instead you can get Swiss beer for Fr. 12 a bottle, or mineral water for Fr. 30 a liter (price not listed on the menu, of course, and since it is served in pitchers rather than bottles, who knows what brand it is – or if it's tap water!) Let's assume that Thai beer usually costs at least 25% more than domestic: that gives Sukhothai a Singha index of 0 and sets the upper end of the Singha scale at Fr 15.|
|Remarks||Only restaurant in Zurich with a star from Guide Michelin. Although the food has moments of brilliance, the management mostly seems to think that outrageous prices are enough to make their reputation.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The appetizers were excellent. Everyone ordered the "Menu" for Fr. 85, which was average to very good for the variation with meat, but the vegetarian assortment was bland and unimaginative.|
|Ban Song Thai|
|Location||Kirchgasse 6, 044 252 33 31|
|Ambience||Nice, if a bit crowded. Seats with pillows near the window look nice, but regular chairs offer better back support!|
|Remarks||Although several of us
know Ban Song Thai from several earlier visits, we were unable
to test it as a group: when we showed up with 6 people, we were
told that we could only be served a fixed menu, which you might accept
at your office's cafeteria, but not when you expect to pay Fr 50 or
more for your meal plus drinks. Normally we'd recommend BST,
but at this point, we can only say call up and tell them you won't
come until they've changed this policy!
We were told it would be called "Ban Song Lan", with a new cook, as of June 2002, but in fact it's still BST. More info about the owners on their web site.
|Individual Dishes, Comments||The farmer's stew is something you don't see at every Thai place. Darned spicy too!|
|News||OUT OF BUSINESS! Curry King is now open in this location!|
|Location||Weinbergstr. 107 between Schaffhauserplatz and the ETH, Tel. 044/362 93 33. Tram stop Ottikerstrasse, lines 7 and 15.|
|Ambience||Cozy. Nice Thai decor, note the spirit house near the entrance.|
|Service||Neither very attentive nor particularly friendly.|
|Price||Fr. 50/person (including some desserts) Singha index: (Fr. 5.00).|
|Remarks||The food is generally milder than at other Thai restaurants, but still tasty: a good place for beginners. Try Thai Diamond if you can't eat spicy food, but always wanted to say you ordered a three star dish. Overall Keo is roughly comparable: Thai Diamond has better atmosphere, but Keo is friendlier. Sunset is still the best though.|
|Individual Dishes, Comments||Farmer's stew is also on the menu.|
|Blue Monkey Cocostin
were in the main floor (faster food) part of the restaurant once, maybe
in 2000. It wasn't a formal test, but our impression was that the
prices were only slightly less than that of a fancy Thai place, but the
portions were miniature. Greetings to Khun Koni wearing a Thai
Harley Davidson T-shirt in the kitchen.