It’s weird, but I’ve always had a thing for ground meat. When I was little, I loved things like tartare and Salisbury steak. But being from an Italian neighborhood in Brooklyn, I hadn’t tried other cuisines and their take on ground meat until I started working in Manhattan when I was 19. There I started exploring different types of food.
That’s when I ate my first Thai larb salad at some dinky place in Chinatown. Part of the reason I love larb salad is because it’s protein driven, but I also like all the fresh flavors and spiciness. It has to have a lot of lime too. At Lers Ros in the Tenderloin—which possibly has the best Thai food in the city—they have both chicken and duck larb and they use a special Thai chili powder as well as this crunchy rice powder that gives the larb a nutty flavor. I stop by here a lot because it’s on my way home from work. Basil Thai in SoMa is another place I like, mostly because they have a full bar, but also because it’s a nicer place that you can enjoy with a big group of friends. Manivanh Thai by my house on 24th Street makes a larb with duck. It seems a little less healthy, but you really get that yummy duckiness.”
Lers Ros, 730 Larkin St., 415-931-6917.
Basil Thai, 1175 Folsom St., 415-552-8999.
Manivanh Thai, 2732 24th St., 415-824-6059