When we started up my Prius Sunday afternoon, the onboard thermometer said the temperature outside was 117 Fahrenheit. I wish I’d grabbed my camera, snapped a shot and then made a postcard with the line “Welcome to Sacramento.”
In other words, it was an excellent day to get out of Sacramento. A later check of the weather online revealed that it was a mere 104 on Sunday—cars tend to exaggerate a bit when you leave them in the driveway all day. But it was a few degrees cooler a couple thousand feet up the hill in Nevada City. And it was a lot of degrees cooler when got in the Yuba River. I won’t reveal exactly where we went—I’ve been sworn to secrecy—but there were several topless women and someone wearing a bandana covered in images of marijuana leaves (no, not me).
An afternoon lounging and swimming in the river usually leaves me hungry. We first tried to eat at Ike’s, a local eatery with healthy fare and a patio, but we missed their 8 pm last-seating time by minutes. Nevada City is a sleepy town—the sleepier, more historic looking neighbor to the plenty sleepy and historic-looking mountain town of Grass Valley—and Ike’s wasn’t the only place closed on a Sunday night. Then some guys passing by suggested Sopa Thai.
It turned out I’d already been here, a year or two back on another trip to the River. They also had a patio, a sunken place out back where the cooler night air started settling in as soon as we sat down. Soon they’d turned on the Christmas lights, and it was possible to imagine that we lived somewhere besides a summer-long inferno.
We started with the eggplant salad ($11.95). This was a spicy mixture of eggplant and chicken, served neither hot nor cold, covered in onions, Thai chilies and lime juice. I’m a particular fan of eggplant salads, given that they’re very rare and I once carried one off in my own kitchen against long odds. The trick is to get the eggplant to that just-starting-to-melt level of cooking, then cool it off. It was great.
A bit heavier was the Ho Mok ($15.95), a seafood red curry with lots and lots of coconut milk. It was served in a clay pot, but don’t think the traditional kind of clay pot dishes you’d get in a Vietnamese restaurant, with that burned, caramel kind of flavor. It was more a straight curry, very flavorful and not skimping on the scallops and calamari. It was enough food that it provided my lunch the next day.
The highlight of the meal was desert, the mango & sweet rice ($7.95), which we did finish on the spot. The mango was perfectly ripe—so much so we started wondering if it were local and if we might be able to grow a mango tree in our yard. The sticky rice was a bit al dente, a bit salty and a bit sweet. Ben & Jerry’s really ought to make this dish into an ice cream flavor.
Sopa Thai also wins accolades from me for offering brown rice and advertising “no MSG.” They also have a Yuba City location.
Sopa Thai Cuisine
312-316 Commercial St.
Nevada City, CA 95959
530 470 0101