For Los Angelenos, there’s no need to take a plane to Thailand to enjoy authentic Thai dishes and desserts! Not only does the City of Angels boasts of numerous Thai restaurants in Downtown but it also has Thai Town, the only one of its kind in the United States!
Thai Town occupies six blocks in the East Hollywood neighborhood between Western Avenue and Normandie Avenue. Even first-timers to the area won’t miss it because of its distinctive entrance flanked by statues of a mythical creature known as apsonsi (i.e., half lion angel, half human).
But Thai Town isn’t the only neighborhood with the best Thai food! You should explore Los Angeles and find hidden gems where Thailand comes alive, if only in food.
(9043 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood)
If you’re looking for a hip Thai restaurant, then Night+Market is your best choice. Kris Yenbamroong, its chef and owner, has definitely established an enviable reputation as the best Thai chef this side of the United States. His inspiration for the menu comes from the night market street foods of Bangkok combined with the rustic cooking style of rural northern Thailand.
The Night+Market menu is characterized by the use of fragrant herbs, chile and rice as well as the perfect balance between sour, salty, sweet and spicy. The must-have dishes include the moo sadoong, or startled pig, grilled pork with lemongrass, fish sauce, and chile; the crab fried rice; and the larb pla duk.
(125 N Western Avenue, Los Angeles)
Isaan Station may not be in Thai Town – it’s in Koreatown – but it’s among the best Thai restaurants in the City of Angels. Foodies looking for the quintessential flavors of northeastern Thailand – sour, spicy and funky flavors, of course – will find it here, from fermented pork sausages, charred meats, and sticky rice to pickled crab and green papaya salads, larb, and chili peppers. Plus, Isaan Station takes great care in presenting its dishes and desserts in Thai-inspired ways, such as the sticky rice served in a woven bamboo basket.
Be prepared to have watery eyes, too, since the Thai dishes here are as spicy as can be. Take, for example, the yum woon sen ta lay served slightly warm – it’s generously loaded with cuts of chewy chicken, slippery glass noodles with speckles of chopped green onions and celery, and curls of crispy calamari and plump shrimp. But since it’s a Thai dish, there’s also plenty of chile hiding among the glass noodles as well as generous pours of spicy lime-chile fish sauce.
We also suggest the som dtum thai, which has tomato chunks, shredded papaya, and tiny dried shrimp served with kaffir lime slices; khai yang ob oong, grilled chicken seasoned with turmeric and served with two dipping sauces, one sweet and the other spicy; and green apple Dum-Dum.
Sapp Coffee Shop
(5183 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)
Are you craving for authentic Thai boat noodles? You should go to Sapp Coffee Shop!
Yes, the restaurant serves coffee but we visit it often for its boat noodles, an addictive dish consisting of beef, tripe and offal as well as thick rice noodles, crispy pork rinds, and blood broth. But if a blood broth isn’t up your alley, you can order another version made of jade noodles with barbecued pork, crab, and duck meat.
Get the pad thai, a pungent dish with tamarind water, fish sauce, and palm sugar, the perfect blend of tart, sour and sweet. Start or end your meal with crispy pork over rice, a rice dish with crispy pork, fried egg, and stir-fried Chinese broccoli.
Many of these Thai restaurants have affordable prices so there’s little need for worrying about emptying your wallets even before the first course is finished.
(5265 W Sunset Boulevard, Los Angeles)
The restaurant’s name is a combination of Thailand’s old name, Siam, and its location on Sunset Boulevard. If you’re a first-time guest, you may find it difficult to spot – it’s next to an America’s Value Inn.
We recommend Siam Sunset for its authentic Northeastern Thailand specialties, all of which are delicious and fairly priced. Such is the great quality of the dishes that you can’t go wrong no matter your order!
Keep in mind that Siam Sunset is a casual restaurant so there’s no need to be too fussy and fine about your manners, although using your dining utensils properly is a must. We like it that the wait staff is friendly, attentive, and helpful so the dining experience is always nice.
The food choices are just as nice, too! The jok, a Thai version of congee or rice porridge, is so flavorful that it can become your breakfast staple over, say, milk and cereals; choose between meat and tofu as a topping. If you’re feeling adventurous, you may want to pair jok with coffee and Chinese donuts.
The khao man gai, a Thai version of Hainan chicken, is tasty that it’s a popular dish among regulars. Be sure to try the fried mussels, too, which are crispy and juicy at the same time.
Lum Ka Naad
(17644 Ventura Boulevard, Encino)
After eating to your heart’s content at Lum Ka Naad, you will say, “Lum ka naad indeed!” The restaurant’s name is, after all, an expression of approval for the deliciousness of a dish among Northern Thais. As soon as you enter the restaurant, your nose will pick up on the pleasant scents of Thai cooking – lemongrass, roasted chiles, and garlic in a harmonious blend.
Lum Ka Naad has an impressive menu consisting of more than 100 dishes and desserts, and it’s enough to cause bewilderment among first-time guests. Just look around you at the other tables, check what they’re ordering, and ask the waiter about the dishes – you can’t go wrong with the bestsellers, too.
Khan tohk, a dish with lush flavors that evoke the Thai countryside, comes highly recommended. It’s truly a feast for your eyes and mouth with its spice-infused fish, mellow curries, spicy dips, and colorful vegetables served on a short-legged table. It’s also filled with fresh herbs, many of which are unknown to the American palate but are flavorful.
Other must-have dishes include kuah gling, a dry meat curry; khaw sawy, a noodle dish with creamy coconut; hakka-style noodles with tofu triangles stuffed with meat; and tom yum pork noodle filled with the goodness of lean ground pork patties, meatballs, shrimp, and crispy fried pork belly punctuated by crunchy ground peanut butter. Be prepared for palate-burning dishes since Northern Thai food can be too spicy for the American palate.
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