When asked to describe his cooking, Muang Thai chef-owner Charlie Khamruang uses the term “old style,” by which he means he uses the traditional building blocks he learned about in his mother’s kitchen: scratch-made curry pastes pounded with a mortar and pestle, lots of fresh herbs and aromatics, and an appealing rustic quality. Start your meal with one of the excellent salads, such as the gloriously messy yum pla muk: tender squid loaded with slivers of raw onion and krachai (like a more fragrant, toned-down cousin of ginger), all tossed in a bright lemongrass-and-fish-sauce dressing. From there, try any of the well balanced curries — the sublime (and not-too-sweet) pumpkin curry, for instance, or the comforting kao soi, which features two kinds of egg noodles served over an addictive yellow curry and house-pickled mustard greens. In the East Bay, for Thai food served the way Thai people like to eat it, you’ll be hard-pressed to do much better.
Hours: Mon.-Fri. 11 a.m.-3:30 p.m., 4:30-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. 11 a.m.-10 p.m.