Eating the Sh*t Out of Your [Thai] Town
When I was a freshman in college, my roommate would suggest that we drive into ethnic parts of town and try a random restaurant. This worked better in Thai Town than it did when we ended up with extremely gamey offal and blood sausages in Koreatown. Alas, although I’ve known to go to Jitlada, Pa Ord, and Sapp Coffee House for a while, I haven’t explored the rest of delicious Thai Town. My recent time in Hollywood has reignited my interest to get into the weirder nooks. I know I’m not done exploring yet but this is certainly a start.
I think Ruen Pair is actually the first restaurant in Thai Town I went to ever, the one in college. The papaya salad was tasty and a big portion for one. The morning glory was delicious but the crispy pork was a bit stale tasting. I’ve tried holy basil crispy pork at Pa Ord multiple times and find it much less tasty than chicharrones. I guess I don’t like Thai crispy pork and won’t need to try the next door AYCE Crispy Pork Gang.
While I’ve tried Pa Ord and Sapp Coffee House for their boat noodles, both being delicious, I never get very far past that at Sapp Coffee House. I haven’t been in years though so I did go back and try the boat noodles, still delicious and I mildly prefer them more than Pa Ord’s. I can vouch that Pa Ord, who may or may not have three locations now, does do plenty of noodle dishes and tom kha kai well but is less spectacular for the rice dishes.
I’ve never gone past the boat noodles at the early closing Sapp Coffee House. The jade noodles are beautiful to look at but I found the meats overwhelming and the overall effect a bit fishy due to the crab. Maybe it would be better “wet” with soup, but likely not.
I used to think Thai food just meant pad thai and curries. For all my time in Thailand and Thai Town, I haven’t eaten very many curries. I usually leave that to Jitlada’s delicious mouth killing spiciness. This is the red curry from Yai Thai, a northern specialist. I believe curry is from the east, but this was pretty good with the sticky rice.
I spent most of my time in north Thailand so I have fallen in love with the curry noodle soup, khao soi. That is a khao soi on the right that tastes like nothing I had in Thailand, but is still pretty tasty. On the left is a delicious flaming tom yum soup. There’s some sort of unlimited Thai iced tea cup you can order here.
This is the khao soi at Pailin Thai. Still not the same as I remember but closer. Their bamboo salad, northern and Issan style sausages, and nam ngeao, a red curry fermented rice noodle soup full of offal, are all delicious. The Thai iced tea is pretty good as well.
Khao man gai, quite similar to Hainanese chicken, is an obsession I picked up from a food truck in Portland. It involves poached chicken, rice cooked in chicken stock, fat, and garlic, a clear brothy soup, cucumbers, and a fermented soy dipping sauce. Hainanese chicken involves a chili laden soy sauce and ginger oil sauce. This khao man gai is from the late night Sanamluang Cafe. It was a bit dry particularly compared to the fancy sous vide version I had at Sticky Rice in Grand Central Market the week before. Being able to get it at 1 AM makes it pretty great though.
I found Siam Sunset while looking for some Chinese/Taiwanese breakfast items I love and stumbled upon this amazing two page menu. Where else can you eat a full non-fast food menu for under 5 bucks? There’s even mildly terrifying fried mussels on the other page.
Siam Sunset’s congee (rice soup) chock full of poached egg and super soft pork ribs washed down with a fresh coconut juice. The Thai guy next to me got a whole coconut, mine comes in a cup with the flesh scooped out for me.
I could pretend I’m somewhere else or another meal, but this is totally still the same meal at Siam Sunset. Stubby Chinese style donuts with condensed milk and dou fa, soft tofu in ginger sauce with fried bits. So despite ordering enough for more than one, I still want to go back to Siam Sunset to try their khao man gai and the $3.95 menu.
I also explored the markets of the area. Bahn Kanom Cafe has a delicious array of desserts and snacks of both hot, cold, and pre-packaged varieties. They just got mango sticky rice in stock which comes with a whole mango and coconut milk in a separate container. They are also open until 1 or 2 am, which is wonderful. Of the two supermarkets, I prefer Silom Supermarket over Bangkok Market which is a little further out of Thai Town. The deli hot foods, curry pastes, and noodle selection at Silom were much better at this bigger store. I did not check out the much smaller Bangluck market.
After three months in Vietnam, I know I didn’t try everything available so I know I must’ve only scratched the surface after a month in Thailand. I’m glad I get to explore some of those options in Los Angeles.