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Milwaukee's Daily Magazine for Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014

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In Dining Reviews

EE-Sane's Volcano Tofu -- like its chicken counterpart -- was surprisingly good. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

EE-Sane's interior is devoid of ambience. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

EE-Sane is one of the more established tennants on Farwell Avenue. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

In Dining Reviews

The menu here is large enough that diners could take four or five visits just to sample the many variations EE-Sane provides. (PHOTO: Whitney Teska )

EE-Sane provides a mixed bag for Thai dining


EE-Sane, 1806 N. Farwell Ave., is one of the more established tennants on a stretch of Farwell that houses a proverbial world market of cuisines.

EE-Sane's Thai and Laotian hybrid menu serves alongside nearby Mona's Turkish Shawerma House and Ethiopian Cottage. Of the three, EE-Sane's entrance beckons the least, although that didn't seem to deter diners on recent visits to this East Side mainstay.

EE-Sane's interior is devoid of ambience. Bright aqua blues cover the nearly barren walls and the tables are cafeteria-like -- all forgivable characteristics if the food can carry them. EE-Sane's menu is filled with favored Southeast Asian dishes like Pad Thai, and other noodle dishes, a variety of curries and Laotian Larb dishes, which feature spicy shredded meats, served salad style.

Visits to EE-Sane were marred by poor, slow and impersonal service, with food that skewed to the spicier end of the spectrum (spicier than anticipated based on our ordering scale) with some dishes more successful than others. On the upside, EE-Sane offers most dishes in a vegetarian version for non-meat eaters, providing one of the larger non-meat menus in the city.

Diners at EE-Sane should expect to wait some time after sitting down to order their food, and if you require anything in between your dish deliveries, you may find yourself doing without.

Crab rangoons ($5.95) at EE-Sane were overcooked and greasy, leaving the interior cream cheese gummy in texture. Steamed spring rolls ($4.95) were much better, with the rice paper stretched thin to accommodate a generous stuffing of lettuce leaves, fresh mint, pork and other vegetables. Appetizers were served with a thick and delicious spicy peanut-style sauce and sweet and sour sauce.

Entrées, too, at EE-Sane seemed a mixed bag. Some dishes, like a panang ($10.95) -- served on one visit with chicken -- wasn't as flavorful as one would fine at other Thai restaurants in the area, and somehow managed to be spicy hot yet bland at the same time.

Volcano chicken ($14.95) was surprisingly good, and the higher heat quotient actually seemed to do this plate justice. Served with broccoli, carrots and cabbage, the chicken was juicy and tender to the fork.

The menu here is large enough that I could have likely taken four or five visits just to sample the many variations in preparation EE-Sane provides, but, unfortunately, I either chose the wrong items by going with more standard items, or I hit EE-Sane on off evenings. Either way, I didn't find the attraction for which I was hoping.

That said, the full dining room and parade of take-out orders would seem to say that other diners here know something I didn't discover during my visits. And the service here was so sub-par that I actually felt uncomfortable at times.

If I venture back to EE-Sane to sample Laotian cuisine or try some less popular Thai items, I would likely do so for take out rather than dine in.


Talkbacks

StuckInMKE | April 6, 2010 at 4:20 p.m. (report)

Haha, this review is a joke. Crab Rangoon? WTF? IF that dish sucks I reckon this place is good. I've gone here consistently for the last 5 years, never had a bad meal. In fact, some of their specialties are the best in town, i.e. Papaya Salad. And they actually will spice the food to your wishes instead of toning it down. As per service, I've never had a problem with service, refills, etc, and the prices are good so it doesn't bother me. I think the review just has no clue what he/she is talking about regarding this joint. Great food, good location, always consistent!

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duhawk05 | March 29, 2010 at 11:33 a.m. (report)

To heck with this place... seriously. My one and only visit included "just OK" pad thai and the most horrific service of all of my dining experiences. No order taken for 30 minutes. No tea (after asking twice). No carryout boxes/check. I don't care if it's the best Thai in the world--I would never step foot in there again.

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Milwhawkeye | March 29, 2010 at 10:56 a.m. (report)

I agree the service is horrible. Not because the people are surly or lazy. They work hard and seem to have quiet personalties (my take). It's just that the owner staffs the place to run lean and mean. It would be a much better experience if they staffed better. I hate waiting 10 minutes for my check when I'm ready to roll. So I often get my chow to go. With that said, the food is terrific. I haven't had better curry in town.

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rkerhin | March 25, 2010 at 1:41 a.m. (report)

I think that you lost your credibility as a food critic when you ordered crab rangoons at a Thai restaurant. It's like ordering the tacos at Ma Fischer's - you know it will be disappointing.

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mstodd | March 24, 2010 at 10:44 p.m. (report)

I agree with the other commenters. Food is fantastic. While living on the east side, I would get it one a week sometimes. (6 days recovery) I usually get my spice level 6/10, which I would say is equal to native Thai at King and I. I tried Mai Thai a couple times and could not think of a reason to go there over EE-Sane. I now go to Mekong Cafe in Tosa. Their food is also very good, with more variety than EE-Sane. Appetizer sampler platter is great!

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