E-San Thai

E-San Brief Review
Overall Service Food Quality Atmosphere Vegan Options
4 3 6 6 1
Location: 133 Southwest 2nd Ave.
8233 North Denver Ave.
Hours: 11:00am-11:00pm Times Visited: 5

E-San has been inconsistent in the information they provide about dish ingredients and we are about ready to cross off them off our vegan-friendly list, expect one dish stands tried and true.

The staff at the downtown location have reassured many vegans that the entree, the Swimming Angel, is suitable for their diet. We’re told the peanut sauce is made from coconut milk, peanut butter, vegetable oil, and chili paste. The Swimming Angel is a great pile of vegetables including broccoli, carrots, cabbage, and spinach, all smothered in a sweet, and mildly spicy, thick, peanut sauce. This is a great dish to order when you feel like being healthy and eating your veggies, just ask for the peanut sauce on the side if you’re counting your fat grams because this sauce is full of fat.

Upon visiting the much slower, similarly decorated, with its dark woods and typical Thai decor, at the North Portland E-San location I had a chance to really dig into some of the dish ingredients and explain what vegetarian means – no shrimp paste, no fish paste, no fish sauce, no chicken broth…and I was told everything on the stir-fry menu contains fish sauce. Boo! YET The downtown location has had no problem serving this reviewer, without adaptation, items from the stir-fry menu after explaining I had a fish allergy.

When ordering from the North Portland location I was told only their curries can be made vegan. I was very skeptical because my Thai friends have always informed me that most all pre-made curry sauces contain bits of sea-life. I ordered the Gang Dang and was very disappointed to have a fishy taste in my mouth after the first bite. I can’t review the dish much further than that because that one bite wasn’t enough to expand on besides saying it sure didn’t taste vegan.

The Stumptown Vegans are very annoyed that yet another restaurant in Portland feels it’s fine to mark items on their menu “vegetarian,” when they contain dead sea-life.

We understand that this restaurant has different owners, though all within the family, at different locations and some restaurants may be willing to leave out ingredients, but our interactions at the different locations have been so varied we don’t know who to trust.

As far as this reviewer is concerned, E-San can only be trusted for their Swimming Angel dish, Salad Rolls, and salad with peanut sauce (which is very similar to the Swimming Angel). Vege Thai – please open up your downtown cart again!

Swimming Angel:
E San - Swimming Angle

Salad Rolls:


12 responses to “E-San Thai

  1. I’m confused, Thai is rarely ever vegan, was this resturant promoting their dishes as vegan and they aren’t? Thai resturants are one of the worse dining choice for vegans because the ingredients can rarely be confirmed. I only trust Araya’s in Seattle. Why support a returant that not only serves meat but misleads vegans?

  2. Todd, we are trying to get the word out about non-vegan friendly Thai restaurants. Unfortunately, not only are restaurants themselves often misleading, but so is word of mouth amongst veg*ns. I would not visit E-San Thai.


  3. The E-San on N. Denver is crap – I only go there for the fried tofu right after I teach sometimes. Everything is $3 more per entree than Phathaya Thai, the eggplant was undercooked, and the broccoli overcooked. I cannot forgive overcooked broccoli in thai food. NEVER!

  4. Bummer, I specifically asked at E-San North about fish ingredients in Mee Krob and Pad Thai, was told they could be omitted. Went back with a vegan friend who ordered Massamum Curry and was told again “no problem”. I swore I’d never return to Vege Thai after so many bland and poorly cooked meals. Is it any better these days?

  5. I feel your pain Tom. The shrimp paste and chicken broth are somehow not considered fish or animal.
    Vege Thai has been bland since the change in owners. I haven’t been in awhile either.

  6. I occasionally order off of a menu labeled “vegetarian” at the E-San Thai location on NW Thurman.

    They are usually quite good about not using fish oil and egg (upon request) but today my waitress got snarky with my vegan gf, and told us that most Thai food contains fish oil (even though we were ordering off of the “vegetarian” menu).

    From the vegetarian society:
    “A vegetarian does not eat any meat, poultry, game, *fish*, shellfish or crustacea, or slaughter by-products.”

    The food is still amazing, and the people are generally very friendly, but I’m sure they often get pissy with vegetarian/vegans when it gets busy.

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  11. Yeah, I live right by this place and I wish it were better. Almost everything on their menu has fish sauce and they are not willing to make it without, probably because large batches are made ahead I would think. Even before I switched to vegan I was never impressed. Last time I had their salad rolls, there was literally just stale/browning iceburg carrot mix and tofu inside. No cilantro, basil or bean sprouts. Disgusting.

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