696 Geary Street
(between Jones St & Leavenworth St)
San Francisco, CA 94102
Osha Thai Noodle Cafe is a pretty good place for a snappy Thai lunch, although the state of the dining room doesn't betray its good reputation. Apparently the hip and trendy people of the area are rather sweet on it, according to the magical oracle that is Yelp.com. I thought it looked like your standard decrepit Asian joint that somehow manages to turn out awesome food. Could we both be right?!?
Prices are quite low, and I was happy to see a papaya salad with salty crab on the menu for 6.95, which is one of my favorite foods in the whole entire universe. The food came out extremely quickly, and I was suprised to find that when they said the papaya salad was spicy, they actually meant it - most places kinda nod and roll their eyes and bring out the mild dish anyway. This, on the other hand, had my eyes running with tears of painful joy, which sort of sucked since I'd only ordered water to curb that sweet sweet pain. The crab portion seemed to be an entire small crab (these suckers aren't big) and I had a fun interactive moment sucking, biting, and ripping out every single part of seafood flavored protein from its tiny body. I apologize to everyone else in the dining room. My only complaint: the portion size was pretty small, though I suspect this was meant to be an appetizer instead of a main dish.
The day I went there, the place contained an alternating crowd of Thai diners and vaguely out of place cops, all ordering noodles, mowing through them at disarming rates, and talking loudly. The wall are mirrored, which is somewhat awkward for me - how repulsive is it to watch yourself feed like some sort of giant carnivore anyway? The place is decently designed but it seems like little care is being taken to maintaining it. I was really suprised to find on Yelp that Osha has some sort of "hip" reputation, because that sure as hell wasn't my first reaction. I thought, "Oh, look, a cheap dive with dodgy hygiene!" (My standards for ambience are very low.)
Oh, and do visit the bathroom here: it's dirty and under-maintained but has a truly exciting degree of graffiti. I was under the impression I had mistakenly stepped into the cement bathroom of a squatters warehouse and spent more time then I really needed to reading the walls. People looked at me funny when I finally stepped out. Well, eh, reading material is what it is.