The snob’s common complaint about Thai food in the city—that it’s overly sweetened to appease the Western palate—runs up against reality at Lers Ros, a Tenderloin landmark that now has a second outpost in a neighborhood where chilies once feared to tread. Here in Hayes Valley, Tom Silargorn sticks to his fiery brand of cooking, using sugar as an extra, not a star: It’s the cool foil in the hot sauce on his barbecue chicken; it’s the yin to his duck larb’s lime-and-chili-powder twang. His encyclopedic menu includes exotic entries; stir-fried garlic frog tastes like very tender chicken. But even standard items such as tom kha kai—a comforting soup in which coconut and lemongrass tussle for attention—come across as different: They’re more balanced than most versions you’ve tried before. In this higher-rent location, Lers Ros offers an expanded wine list, but there’s nothing fancy about the new space. It’s simple, clean-lined, largely nondescript—a slightly dressed-up spin-off of a restaurant that does anything but dumbed-down food. 307 Hayes St. (bet. Gough and Franklin sts.), S.F., 415-874-9661 $$ RW HH
Josh Sens is San Francisco's restaurant critic.