Restaurant of the Week: Sanamluang Cafe

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Sanamluang Cafe, 1648 Indian Hill Blvd. (at San Bernardino), Pomona

The only Pomona restaurant with a twin in North Hollywood, Sanamluang is located on Indian Hill Boulevard a few blocks south of the 10 Freeway, coincidentally enough in the same block as Mix Bowl Cafe, another well-regarded authentic Thai restaurant.

Sanamluang’s interior is pretty funky, done in avocado, orange and brown, with an open feeling and odd angles. A friend and I got a booth and ordered three items: the Thai salad ($5.95), basically an American salad but with peanut sauce; seafood soup ($9.50), with shrimp, squid and mussels; and General’s Noodle, the dried version ($6.50), with noodles, shrimp, beef and pork.

The food was fine, but we weren’t wowed, not even by the well-reviewed noodle dish. Sanamluang is certainly popular. It was a Friday night and the place was packed, with several large parties and a line out the door by the time we left. But service was poor. The restaurant was understaffed and no one even refilled our water glasses.

I used to be a regular at Sanamluang, a streak that ended a few years ago when a roach crawled across our table, a server casually killed it and no one apologized or gave us a break on the bill. A friend enticed me to Mix Bowl and I came to love the place.

I wouldn’t argue anyone out of liking Sanamluang. (Yelpers are evenly split, giving Sanamlaung and Mix Bowl identical 3.5-star ratings.) The interior is a step up from the neon garishness of Mix Bowl and some would prefer the food. I think Mix Bowl has better food and it inarguably has better service. Also, as my (female) friend put it after a close observation of Sanamluang, “The waitresses are prettier at Mix Bowl.” The importance of these things can’t be discounted.

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