Deep reddish-brown wood -- in the hardwood floors, tabletops, and along the ceiling -- welcome the guests of Kao Sarn to the restaurant. That, and large, leafy plants arranged by the host's table, hand-carved mirrors and wall hangings, and brightly colored antique paintings. The Point Richmond Thai restaurant is well decorated, but that's not their only appeal: Kao Sarn offers distinctive takes on well-known Thai dishes that make it stand out in a sea of similar restaurants. For that, Kao Sarn deserves a visit.
Arguably, their most popular meal is lunch. Kao Sarn offers a special where guests can pick a soup or salad, entree, and rice for a very reasonable price. But beyond the lunch special there are many unique options from which to choose. Take the Meang Kum, a dish of dried coconut, red onion, peanuts, limes, and shrimp, served on a bed of fresh spinach leaves and drizzled in a ginger sauce. There is also a delicious crabmeat fried rice, which is a traditional wok-style fried rice with green onion, peas, and the unusual addition of crab meat. Their panang curry -- a dish which is a standard of any Thai menu -- stands alone with an uncommon abundance of vegetables and seasonings, making it something entirely different from what other places have to offer.
Beyond the standard listings on Kao Sarn's print menu, there is a large and ever-changing list of specials, hand written on a board on the wall. The restaurant is committed to serving fresh food and continually innovating their menu, and this board is where to find the the latest catch or newest concoction. The perfect partner for Kao Sarn's unique food is the restaurant's expansive (and inexpensive) wine menu. Every bottle listed is under $40, and each pairs perfectly with the food. Matching wines with food as well-seasoned as Thai food can be tricky, but this Thai restaurant has found a perfect balance of flavors.
Kao Sarn has served Point Richmond since 2004, but much else of its history or ownership is a mystery. As a policy, the names of the owners are not given out, and the waitstaff isn't giving away any secrets of the restaurant's past or motivations. It is clear, though, that whoever is behind Kao Sarn is taking their job seriously. The restaurant offers a strong contemporary aesthetic throughout the restaurant -- to the tall, slender glasses for the Thai iced tea, to the precise plating of the food -- and is each item on the menu is a new take on the dishes everyone knows so well. Whoever is behind the curtain at Kao Sarn is working magic. Stop in for lunch and you won't be disappointed.
130 Washington Ave., Richmond, CA
Mon - Fri 11 am. to 3 pm.
Mon - Fri 5 pm. to 9 pm.
Sat 5 pm. to 9:30 pm.
Sun 4:30 pm. to 9 pm.