8:01 p.m. Saturday: Best Place to Test Your Date's Mettle 

Ruen Pair

Tell your date you're taking him to eat Thai and he's probably expecting candy-sweet peanut sauce and low-watt curries. Insist to the waiter you want everything mild to medium, and he'll probably sputter. Then watch him take his first bite. When Ruen Pair's food is on, it's like an electrical charge: sour, pungent, spicy, fragrant -- in short, closer to the real thing than any other Thai restaurant in the East Bay. Let your date specify he wants his food "hot," and neither of you will be able to finish the dish. That's not a dare, that's a warning. Plus, Ruen Pair serves sexy dishes such as naked ladies (raw prawns with papaya salad) and Thai jungle curry; the Northern Thai specialties are also distinct. Besides, the service can be so slow that you can see how he handles waiting. Not that you'd make him wait, of course.

Readers' Pick for Best Thai Restaurant: Cha Am

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