Osha Thai BBQ brings the flavor on McDowell Boulevard
Hats off to any restaurant that opened during the pandemic. In the case of the recently-opened Osha Thai BBQ, this experienced restaurant group based out of San Francisco is well-versed in take-out and delivery. It has become a staple during these sporadic indoor dining times, and they also make some pretty darn good food.
The space is clean and freshly appointed, but is small, with counter ordering, so on a recent Friday night, after a long work week, Osha seemed more conducive for take-out than dining in. That said, during our second visit, a group of us sat outside and had a wonderful dining experience.
The first thing we noticed when ordering our initial take-out order was that their menu and website are expertly set up for fast ordering, and due to the concise menu, they can turn around orders quickly. Even on a busy Friday evening, our order was ready in the time it took us to drive from downtown to Osha's north-end location.
Samosas on the appetizers menu immediately caught our eyes and threw us off as we are used to them at Indian, not Thai cuisine. However, we love them in general, so we gave them a try, and we're glad we did. The shell was doughy and flakey, and the savory filling of fried mashed potato with curry powder and onion was perfect. This is served with a small side of fresh and tangy cucumber salad.
We also ordered the vegetarian crispy rolls, which were still crispy when we ate them at home roughly an hour after pickup. We went with the barbecue chicken, which ended up being some of the best we have had. The Red Curry with beef had just the perfect amount of spice. We also had the Crab Fried Rice, which we found a bit fishy at first, but then seemed to warm up to quickly, evidenced by the fact that it was the first dish we finished. We later learned that the owner's home cuisine favors more pungent flavors, which may explain the Crab Fried Rice's unique taste. The rice itself was light and flakey and went well with all the other dishes.
For our second visit, we took some friends along and dined on Osha's outdoor patio. With five of us in attendance, we ordered nearly the entire menu, only passing up on several salads and items from the "Wok."
After receiving our bottles of Singha Thai Beer, we started off our appetizers with our new favorites, the Samosas.
Puck revealed that these particular Samosas are directly influence by Puck's mother's kitchen. "My mom taught some friends the samosa recipe that she sells in Thailand, in a market in Bangkok. Now a friend makes and sells those same ones here to several Thai restaurants around S.F. and the North Bay."
On the topic of beer, Puck tells me that Osha has its own beer on order from a brewery in L.A. "It is kind of like the Thai version of a michelada, but instead of tomato juice, ours has lemongrass."
Next up were the Veggie Crispy Rolls, Chicken Satay, Moo-Ping and Angel Wings. The Rolls are filled with cabbage, shitake mushrooms and carrots and come with a sweet and sour plum dipping sauce. A staple of Thai restaurants, the Chicken Satay was spot on and came with both peanut sauce and Osha's tangy cucumber salad. Moo-Ping is grilled marinated pork skewers with hints of coriander, garlic and black pepper, with a tamarind dipping sauce and sticky rice. The Angel Wings were something new to us and had a hint of fish sauce, as is the case with many dishes from the Northeastern region of Thailand. These are fried chicken wings covered in sweet and sour garlic sauce and topped with captivating crisps of basil.
Next up were the two soups (Tom Yum and Tom Kha), which come steeped with either chicken or veggies. Tom Yum is a type of hot and sour Thai soup, usually cooked with shrimp, but in our case, we tried it with veggies and were quite happy with it. "Tom" refers to boiling, while "yam" means 'mixed.'
Usually derived from the same broth stock, the critical difference between Tom Yum and Tom Kha is that the latter contains chili paste and coconut milk, hence the white color. Both were perfectly spiced as is, so we did not push it by adding additional spice. Both will also be perfectly warming as we head into our colder winter months.
Somewhat in the same soup category, we also had both the Yellow Curry and the Red Curry. The Yellow was with chicken while we stepped things up with the addition of shrimp to the Red. Both were excellent.
Salads & Wok
Although Osha offers both a BBQ steak and BBQ chicken salad, we were already going to order everything on the BBQ menu, so we opted for the Papaya Salad, which I had never tried before. Made with green papaya, green beans, fresh garlic, cherry tomato halves, crushed peanuts, and topped with a spicy lime dressing, it was a refreshing respite before diving into the deep end of the menu – the barbecue dishes.