Thai Quest

On a sad day in 1998, we heard a rumour–which later turned out to be untrue–that our favorite Thai restaurant in Zurich had shut down. We couldn't understand how this could be: everyone knows that Thai food is the yummiest in the world, and although there are quite a few Thai places in Zurich, they all seem to do a good business.

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:

In one case a restaurant was so unbelievably gauche as not to offer Singha, so we give an estimated of what they would have charged :-)

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)

Roi Et

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 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 octopus dishes: 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.
Golden Elephant

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 it.

Seefeldstr. 61; Tel. 044/382 18 88
Fast food at sit-down prices
One of 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.
Same as a sit-down Thai restaurant without the advantages.
We liked the food better and ambience better when it was a take-away.
Individual Dishes, Comments
The 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.
Sunset Thani
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.
Petit Thai
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.
Service  Friendly, good.
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.
Sunset Siam
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
Ambience  Very nice.
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 
White Elephant
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.
Sai Somsak
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.
Service  Friendly.
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!
Thai Diamond
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
Stussihofstatt 3

We 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.


More work ahead of us.  (Not sure which of these are just take-away though.)
  • Zurich North comes into its own: apart from the Thai store (Siam Market, behind Bahnhof Oerlikon), there's now a small take-away/sit-down restaurant called Aroy Di (Thai for "tastes good") on the Wallisellerstrasse(?) just a few steps from Sternen Oerlikon (tram stop 10, 11, 14).  They're open Monday to Saturday from 18:00-22:00, plus Monday to Friday 10:00-14:00 for take-away.  Look for the Asia Center sign and the Thai flags.
  • Susanna and Horst recommend Bai Pho Thai Restaurant in Seefeld (also labeled Cafe Isadora outside) at Klausstrasse 49, open Mo-Fr 17:30-23:30, Sa 18:00-23:30.
  • Mike says, "Thai Chillie's, opposite Restaurant Sonne is worth mentioning. It is operated by the crew of the old "Thai Tirak" and has recently received a "weekly recommendation from the Tages Anzeiger".
  • Another faithful reader recommends Restaurant Hua Hin Thai, Lettenholzstrasse 2, 8038 Zürich/ZH, 043 399 93 90.
  • In fall 2003, the NZZ wrote: "Aus dem «Römerhof» in Zürich ist über den Sommer ein gepflegtes Thai-Restaurant geworden. Es heisst nun Römerhof - Thai Cuisine und will thailändische Atmosphäre und Gastfreundlichkeit verbreiten. Zwischen den Mahlzeiten dient es weiter als Kaffeehaus und Bar. Tel. 043 268 47 47"  Asylstrasse 60, 8032 Zürich
  • Samui, Hardstrasse 240, 8005 Zurich, 043/366 95 85.  Their business cards lists their URL as, but that's a site advertising vacations in Ko Samui.  The restaurant belongs to the same family as the takeaway Hua Thai, also in Hardstrasse.  Either would be a good place for a bite before a flick at Cinemax.
  • There's also Son Ne (ok, it's really Sonne) at Hohlstrasse 32, which we discovered when we were already done with our tests.  Just off Langstrasse.  Check it out and let us know how it is!  Sonne was mentioned in a newspaper article as a "Szenenbar" for illegal prostitution.
  • A place called Midway (Zinistr. 6, 044/241'37'98) advertises Thai Karaoke Thu & Sat, and Thai Party on Sun.  Maybe there's Thai food too?
  • Thai-Food-Express, Jäger Martin, Schwamendingenstr. 53,  8050 Zürich/ZH 044 310 37 70
  • Another Karaoke mention, from the Zueri-Tipp restaurant guide: `Thai Tirak', Dienerstrasse 28 8004 Zürich, 044/291 14 14. Ambiente: `gemütlich / unkompliziert'
  • Roi-Et, Thai Food, Schöneggstr. 30, 8004 Zürich/ZH *044 291 58 30
  • Thon Sai, Thailändische- u. Schweizer- Spezialitäten Bar, Hauslieferdienst A la Carte, Zentralstr. 72, 8003 Zürich/ZH 044 463 79 79  Apparently very small, just 6 tables, says Conny.
  • Ah-Hua, Brauerstr. 9, Tel. 241 39 37 ... see Ah-Hua II in Ankerstrasse, which we've tested and found to be good!
  • Mai Thai Gallery, Eichstr. 29, Tel. 451 49 50
  • Phuket Asia Center, Schöneggstr. 21, Tel. 241 57 63.
  • Roi-Et, Schöneggstr. 30, Tel. 291 58 30.  Related to Petit Thai.
  • Tong's, Selnaustr. 13, Tel. 202 66 36.

Takeaway and Fast Food

We decided not to rate these.
  • Hua Thai, Hardstr. 320 (by Escher Wyss Platz)  044 271 54 30 has decent food, but a limited selection.
  • Thai Take-out, Militärstr. 42, Tel.  241 37 21.
Most of these places offer a mixture of Chinese, Thai, etc.

Zurich's Thai Food Links

Useful Thai Phrase

Khaw phet maak!


Did we miss a place?  Know another good link? Let us know.

This page is referred to at Explore-Switzerland.