Cari Taylor-Carlson

EE-Sane Was a Disappointment

Popular Thai restaurant on Farwell offers big servings, smallish taste.

By - Sep 6th, 2017 04:52 pm
EE-Sane. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

EE-Sane. Photo by Cari Taylor-Carlson.

EE-Sane is a popular lower east side restaurant. I rarely encounter a hole-in-the-wall place that disappoints me, so when I gathered three friends to eat some Thai food at this small restaurant on Farwell, I had high expectations.

Things started well when three of us ordered from a list of 25 Lunch Specials which included an Egg Roll or the Soup of the Day. We all chose the egg roll, found the wrapper had a just-out-of-the-fryer crunch, and the filling, full of veggies, tasted fresh. It came with sweet and sour sauce, enough to engage the egg roll.

The rest of our meals lacked the vibrant flavors associated with the Thai food I have experienced in Bangkok as well as several restaurants in Milwaukee. The most disappointing dish, EE-Sane Noodle, a mountain of allegedly stir-fried noodles, tasted of fish sauce, a flavor which should be merged with the spices, not obvious in the flavor profile. The noodles came with chicken, shrimp, and vegetables. I found five juicy shrimp, a few tiny bites of chicken, sliced carrots, sliced cabbage, chopped green onions, and enough noodles to feed a family of five. Other than the shrimp and the fish sauce, I couldn’t locate any flavor. After I doused it with soy sauce, the dish came to life.

The best entree of the four we sampled might have been the Pad Siew; however, if those thick rice noodles had been stir fried, as they should be in that dish, it happened a long time ago. Broccoli, beef, and carrots mixed with those tired noodles in thick brown soy sauce added color to the plate.

For Pad Cashew, served with a huge mound of rice on the side, the cook allegedly stir fried more broccoli, carrots, cabbage, sprouts, onion, and chicken in a spicy/fiery sauce complemented with a sprinkle of cashews. “Pad” in Pad Cashew in Thai means stir fried, but again, like the noodles in the Pad Siew, it did not appear those veggies had been stir fried while we waited at the table. Unfortunately, my companion had ordered pork, not chicken, and had specifically requested “No heat.” She rated the dish satisfactory, just not what she ordered.

Another companion chose Yum Nua from the salad menu. This colorful salad included beef, sliced red onion, cucumber, tomato, mint, cilantro, and pieces of iceberg lettuce. This potpourri of veggies came with a slice of lime which she needed to enhance the flavors as the sauce for the salad was puddled underneath everything on the plate. The flavorful beef, albeit tough and chewy, as well as the rest of the salad, improved when things started to steep in the puddle of sauce which remained on the plate. Or as my companion commented, “It tastes better when I eat the sauce and the veggies together with my spoon. That way everything has more flavor.”

It’s not fair to make a blanket judgment after one recent visit and four entrees, but overall, I missed the umami. I wanted that balance of fiery, sweet, sour, salty — the works — that make Thai food a compelling cuisine laced with vibrant bright fresh flavors.

We ended our meal with fortune cookies. Mine read, “The important thing is to express yourself.”

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  • Location: 1806 N. Farwell Ave.
  • Phone: 414-224-8284
  • Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Tue-Thu, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Fri, 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sat, 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sun
  • Neighborhood:Neighborhood:
  • Facebook:
  • UM Rating: 4.1666666666667 stars (average of Yelp, Trip Advisor and Zomato)
  • No website. To place a pick-up or delivery order, call or go to

25 thoughts on “Dining: EE-Sane Was a Disappointment”

  1. Todd Ruehmer says:

    You owe them at least one more visit. EE-Sane is among my top 5 favorite place to grab a social bite in Milwaukee. Easily the best Thai I’ve ever had.

  2. David Motte says:

    I eat at ee-sane monthly and have probably eaten at 90% of the Thai restaurant in the Milwaukee area.
    I have never been disappointed by any meal I have had there. Try eating vegetarian entrees- you are not going to get top tier meat in any Asian restaurant in the 8-12$ range
    Their curries and Tom yum soup are above average compared to other local Thai restaurants.
    Give them another try you won’t be disappointed

  3. I haven’t eaten at EE Sane but I have several friends who love it.

    But “It tastes better when I eat the sauce and the veggies together with my spoon” In Thailand most Thais would eat with a spoon and use the fork to guide things onto the spoon.

  4. Steve says:

    I enjoyed all of their food for YEARS. Having said that, everyone is entitled to their opinion, but if you write “It’s not fair to make a blanket judgment after one recent visit and four entrees” in a published review that can affect a family business – you should consider your approach, and so should your editors.

  5. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Well put Steve. I don’t take issue with Cari’s opinion, she’s entitled to it. (even though she’s totally off mark) The headline “EE-Sane was a disappointment” is kind of harsh and unfortunate. Most people will read that and get all of the information they need and not read the article. This is journalism 101 people. Give them a headline that will draw the reader in. Personally going to choice eating at EE-Sane over reading any more of Cari’s criticisms.

  6. Nathan says:

    EE-Sane’s food > Cari Taylor’s opinion, any day.

  7. Old Man Yells at Cloud says:

    EE Sane is great. Do yourself a favor and don’t order a dish “no heat” at a Thai restaurant.

  8. Jenna Smith says:

    EE Sane is my favorite Thai place in the city–bar none. I recommend it to anyone looking for great Thai. I encourage the author to try again. The meal sampled may not have been to your liking but in my experience, that is a very rare reaction to EE Sane visits–for dine in or carry out.

  9. Dave Steele says:

    I too had a very negative experience at EE Sane recently, and I will not be back.

    20 years ago this was the best Thai in Milwaukee, easily. Not anymore, in my experience.

  10. Jason says:

    I’ve been a customer of Ee-Sane ever since my roommate in college took me there back in ’99. They’ve disappointed me from time to time but like everything else, everybody has an off day. More or less though, I’ve always returned because I have not found another Thai restaurant that compares to them, this being so in that even on my trips across the United States, I’ve ventured to what is known the best Thai restaurants of those areas. What I find in common with those restaurants with raving reviews appears to be this Fusion food that is not authentic Thai food at all, after being westernized. Ee-Sane provides authentic Thai food giving you added control over what Thai is known for, their spices, and if you cannot handle the spice, the food won’t exactly inspire you, ie. “No Heat”.

    That said, the writer is entitled to their opinion, however please do your research before using passive-aggressive tones in your article. You allegedly insinuate that the restaurant “allegedly” fried the noodles yet a fried dish is sitting in front of you. Do you know that before fried rice becomes a fried rice dish, it has to be steamed or you get burnt rice kernels? You either do not have the palate to distinguish flavors in food or have the incapability to take your biases out of your review according to your statements, therefore should not be a food critic. Please learn to do one of those before destroying the reputations on these small establishments that have managed to stay in business for some reason or another. It gets even more ridiculous with the comment about a salad needing it’s dressing for taste. You don’t go eating a Caeser salad without the dressing do you?

    You’re right, it isn’t fair to make a judgement on one visit but well let’s look here, you just did.

  11. Ry says:

    This article should be entitled “Food critic Nitpicks local mom and pop restaurant”

    I’ve eaten here twice. Both times were enjoyable. I’d happily return for a third.

    The author needs to understand the damage a careless Title like this can cause. If you’re going to publish complaints about a business make sure they are very well founded.
    Overall this article was Disappointing.

  12. Stephen Anderson says:

    If I were Milwaukee Record I would reconsider allowing this “writer/critic” to write for your publication. Her opinion is lacking in substance and she seems to want to do damage to a Milwaukee business that is probably as old as she is. Perhaps a new career for her? Anyway, I will be unfollowing the Facebook page on which I came across this “article” and in the future will likely not be reading from your publication if it continues to follow this protocol for articles. This is a dangerous game playing g with people’s livelihood and with Jow Nai closing down the street it is a real problem and possibility in our city. This article is not long poorly written, but it is a ptitful example of “drama journalism” trying to get likes and views from people based upon controversial headlines (commonly known as click bate). Do better.

  13. Toni Toni Toni says:

    Does she write for Milwaukee Record too?

  14. 36goingon80 says:

    High expectations for a mid-to-low-range, hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant is pretty silly. I would like these reviews to be more matter of fact and include more info about the restaurant (owners, history, neighborhood, specials, special events, etc.). No need for the companion references and unnecessary adjectives/descriptions.

  15. Tatum Matlock says:

    I love EE Sane and all to often I see people go there for the first time and they just don’t order the right things. You tasted 3 noodle dishes.. what about the curries? The volcano dishes? The soup? The fresh spring rolls and other appetizers? You did have a salad which you said you liked. You should go back with someone who eats there often and knows the menu and have them order you the best Tom kha gai in the city and a panang curry and maybe some crispy duck. I don’t think you’d be disappointed again.

  16. stephen anderson says:

    My mistake, the publication is Urban Milwaukee, thanks for the heads up Toni Toni Toni. (Wish I could correct it or even delete it and repost but no option for that it seems).

  17. Matthew says:

    For complete clarity, the Association of Food Journalists defines a number of reviewer protocol in their “Guidelines and Ethics” section of their website:

    “Restaurant criticism is not an objective pursuit, yet readers expect a measure of objectivity from critics. The goals of a critic should be:

    To be fair

    To be honest

    To understand and illuminate the cuisine about which he or she is writing.

    To look beyond specific dishes and experiences to capture the whole of a restaurant and its intentions”

    “Within the constraints of time and budget, critics should visit a restaurant as many times as is needed to properly assess a restaurant. Two or more visits to a restaurant are ideal for the purposes of full-length reviews. Service, food quality and atmosphere can vary, sometimes quite dramatically, from day to day. Multiple visits give the critic a better understanding of the restaurant, helping him or her to more accurately gauge its rhythm and spirit.”

    “Reviewers should sample the full range of the menu, from appetizers to desserts. Reviewers must taste everything ordered, or at least all the items they mention in a column. Bringing guests along helps the critic by allowing the table to order a greater variety of dishes, but guests should be properly prepped in advance on review meal protocol.

    Order dishes that involve different cooking techniques (steamed, deep-fried, sautéed); different ingredients (one orders fish, another asks for beef); different styles (something traditional, something eclectic). Is there something the restaurant is known for doing well? Order it. In general, guests should avoid ordering the same thing. If the critic returns for a second visit, it may be worth again ordering a dish that was particularly wonderful or terrible to see if the experience is consistent.”

    Based on just this subsection of guidelines listed here (there’s far more on the website), it’s safe to assume that our “reviewer” of Ee Sane failed on many of these expectations, and let down the reader – whilst jeopardizing an otherwise very good restaurant’s reputation over one “lunch with the ladies,” and with a very limited number and narrow range of dishes to experience.

    She even mentions the fact that “It’s not fair to make a blanket judgment after one recent visit and four entrees” — but yet you chose to anyways? and write about it?!

    This type of “journalism” is reckless, and I’m more than surprised that Urban Milwaukee decided to release this weak and worthless prose. Must have been a slow news week. Shameful.

  18. Ellen says:

    Try the curried squash next time. It is my favorite Thai restaurant dish ever, and I have eaten Thai food in several other restaurants in Milwaukee and other cities, too.

  19. Thai Love Man Child says:

    Worst food critic article ever written. My mothers dying wish was for food from EE Sane. She’s never even had it before, or Thai food alone. She just knew it’d be good. Washed down with some Brown Cow. Fuck it. Long live EE

  20. Connor says:

    When describing the “Best Entree” she focused on every negative aspect about it. How can you claim it to be the best if you have nothing good to say about it? This article is inspiring me to try EE Sane, based on the comments it sounds like a great place. I get the feeling this critic is one of the boomers that blames millennial’s for the down fall of Apple-bees.

  21. Sean Durbin says:

    Being critical of food does not make one a Food Critic. As noted by another response, published critiques should meet some basic journalistic standards. This one failed at every level. A dish ordered with “no heat” lacked flavor?! A $6 Lunch Special contained not much meat? Shocking. To assess a restaurant based on its quick, cheap lunch specials is hack criticism. The writer should consider another hobby, and the publisher should consider inserting some standards into their decisions about what to print.

  22. Tony B. says:

    I’ve taken every review this critic has written with a grain of salt. I’ve been going to EE-Sane for as long as I can remember. It’s still a top notch inexpensive-ish Thai and I’d be surprised if this is her first time visiting it based on all the books on MKE food she appears to have written.

    This review is a good reminder for me to go back again soon. It’s been a while and I owe them a visit. Volcano Chicken 7 or 8 is out of this world! Sticky rice is amazing.

    Basing a review on one lunch visit is silly but thus is the life of a critic.

  23. slappy white says:

    EE SANE is DOPE. ’tis YOU who sucks!!

  24. Chuck says:

    “Dining” column is to as “Boris & Doris” column was to the Shepherd Express.

  25. SEAsian Chic says:

    I am Southeast Asian and know authentic Southeast Asian – EE Sane is by far, one of the very few Thai restaurants in Milwaukee that is delicious! I’m always skeptical about food critics who aren’t native to our ethnic foods but feel they have the “expertise” to criticize.

    And completely agree with others: don’t jeopardize our local, small businesses for your selfish gain.

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