Westside Thai With A Delightful Zest

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Always on the lookout for a westside Thai fix similar to what we find in Thai Town, we visited Tuk Tuk Thai and were pleasantly surprised. Located on Pico near Robertson, the small eatery has been in business for 15 years and continues to innovate with a mix of traditional Thai and health conscious leanings.

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The dining room is a bright and pleasant respite from the daily grind and LA traffic.

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Starters include a crab roll which incorporates a melange of ground chicken, crab meat, carrot, cabbage and black mushroom into a won ton skin before deep frying to a crisp golden hue.

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On the plate are lettuce leaves, carrot and mint which can be used to wrap the egg roll prior to dipping in the sweet accompanying sauce. This results in an exciting mix of cool against warm, sweet against savory and smooth interior against crunchy exterior.

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The Thai curry dumplings are steamed and filled with scallop and shrimp that float in a luxurious green curry sauce.

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These luscious bundles of well balanced ingredients provide an etherial experience.

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One of our favorite dishes is the pula goong. The quintessential refreshing salad dresses grilled shrimp, grape tomatoes, dark greens, red and green onion, lemongrass, mint and kaffir lime leaves in a high-spirited, garlic and chili laced dressing that satisfies completely.

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Don’t forget to check out the wall board of daily specials that list standouts as well as seasonal specialties. We are looking forward to their Valentines and Songkran (Thai New Year’s) offerings.

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No Thai meal feels complete to us without a curry, and Tuk Tuk’s gaeng keow wan green curry is made with the protein of customers choice. We went with the tender white meat chicken, which basks in its curry bath alongside thai eggplant and an abundance of fragrant basil for a spicy, slightly sweet, creamy dish that is ideal over rice.

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Health conscious guests will want to take a look at the seafood specialty section of the menu.

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The pla rad prik is a crispy whole fish in a spicy, tomatoey, curry sauce topped with fresh chili and crispy thai basil.

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Vibrant heat and a profusion of herbs complements the mild, white flesh of the pomfret.

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They are more than happy to help dissect fish from bone or customers can have a go at it themselves. For those not wanting to fuss with their seafood, the pad ped tally sautés shrimp, scallops, calamari and white fish with fresh chili, lesser ginger, lime leaf, green peppercorn and thai basil for an ocean extravaganza that is both healthy and delicious.

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A beer and wine license means Thai beer and soju based cocktails abound.

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We prefer to end all our Thai dinners with the famous seasonal dessert, mango sticky rice. But when mango is out of season, our sweet tooth is quenched by an ultra creamy, coconut ice cream served atop sweet red bean and sprinkled with crushed roasted peanuts for a cool, smooth finish to the meal.

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For westside Thai that stays true to the flavors, herbs and spice of the cuisine, a visit to Tuk Tuk Thai satisfies and saves time by relieving us of a rush hour trek to Hollywood’s Thai Town.

Tuk Tuk Thai, 8875 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 310-860-1872          web site – tuktukthaila.com

Ecstasy Inducing Thai Papaya Salad

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Ruen Pair, is one of the old timers in Thai Town for good reason, they have remained dedicated to the flavors of Thailand. Everytime we return we are pleasantly surprised by the freshness, quality and intense Thai spices, curries, herbs and seasoning that transform their dishes into heaven on a plate.

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Open from 11 AM to 3 AM everyday of the week, they give us lots of opportunities to immerse ourselves into the joys only an accomplished Thai chef can deliver.

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An extensive menu covers a wide variety of diverse classics starting with their beverage page that offers exotic hot and cold delights.

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We can’t resist the Thai Ice Coffee which is not as sweet as Thai ice tea and delivers a seriously creamy coffee punch.

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Jet Tila, the Thai and Chinese food aficionado, declares Ruen Pair as the place to get the best Papaya salad in Los Angeles and we are going to second that declaration.

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No matter how we order the shredded green fruit masterpiece it always tickles our tastes buds in ways that thrill and excite us. A slightly sweet, savory, spicy, combination of green papaya and secret ingredients makes this multi-nuanced salad hit the tongue and back of the throat with more refreshing surprises than we ever expect.

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It can be ordered with or without dried shrimp, salty black crab or raw crab and is always a winner. We requested it this time sans shellfish and it was perfect with lots of crunchy, roasted peanuts playing against the snap of crisp papaya slivers in a dressing that is truly miraculous.

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By no means is Ruen Pair a one trick pony, there is considerably more that shines here. The pad kee mao, also known as drunken noodles, are broad noodles stir fried with chili, basil, egg and we chose chicken for our protein component. Pure comfort food is how we would describe this homey plate.

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The noodles and curry dishes can be enhanced with their condiment tray which offers chili powder, chili sauce, sugar and chopped green chilies in vinegar.  The later which takes the noodle dishes to new heights of oral pleasure.

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Chinese broccoli with crispy pork comes with a dipping sauce but doesnt need anything in our humble option. The chunks of fat laden pork are an enlightened contrast to the still crisp greens.

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We strongly recommend a visit to Ruen Pair to anyone interested in tasting the Thai flavors that helped establish Thai Town in Los Angeles and with pretty much everything under $10 a dish, its an easy exploration of the best of the cuisine.

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Ruen Pair, 5257 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone – 323-466-0153          web site – ruenpairthaila.com

or

Ruen Pair Thai Restaurant, 18219 East Gale Avenue, City of Industry, CA 91748
Phone – 626-964-2370

One Of The Oldest Thai Establishments In LA Brings The Classics Home

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Today we had the pleasure of dining at Chao Krung, one of the oldest Thai restaurants in Los Angeles. The second oldest, according to the owners.

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A tranquil space decorated with charming pagodas, wall murals, Buddhist art and lots of dark wood is warm and welcoming.

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The menu features traditional Thai cuisine and we dug into some of our favorites, beginning with chicken larb.

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The ground poultry salad is spiked with onion, chili, ground toasted rice and lime juice. Each chef has their own secret recipe for this Lao/Thai dish of pure refreshment.

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This version is served with lettuce leaves and mint, encouraging guests to wrap the salad in a romaine leaf, add some mint, fold into a taco shape and enjoy. The briny, tangy, coarse, citrus and herb scented mix is one of the most exciting Thai dishes we know.

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We were also impressed with the shiitake mushroom salad, packed with juicy, meaty grilled mushroom slices, a profusion of dark greens, tomato, bell pepper, cilantro and a light, complementary Thai dressing.

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No Thai meal feels complete without one of their signature soups and we feasted on a chili spiced, coconut milk based, chicken and herb soup accented with kaffir leaves, galangal and lemongrass.

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One of the most well known dishes is pad thai, where tangles of flat rice noodles are tossed with lime juice, green onion, fresh bean sprouts, shredded carrot, scrambled egg, crushed peanuts and plump shrimp in a mildly sweet sauce.

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The sweetness of the pad thai and other dishes can be tempered by the addition of vinegar with chopped chilies, one of the Thai condiments available to customers. The green chilies are hot and if spicy isn’t desired, the vinegar alone cuts the sweet and adds a zesty flavor creating a sweet and tangy melange that pushes Thai dishes to shine even brighter.

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Another bowl that is kicked into higher levels of excitement by the addition of spicy vinegar, is the duck curry. Tender, in-house roasted duck is combined with pineapple, tomato, basil, bell pepper and onions in a creamy, red curry and coconut sauce. This rich dish is perfect over rice, which sops up every drop.

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Meat lovers will appreciate the crying tiger appetizer, consisting of rare slices of beef that are dipped into the chili flecked sauce that accompanies, sometimes bringing guests to tears of spicy joy.

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We cooled our palates with their coconut ice cream, expertly accented with roasted cashew nuts and made on the premises.

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For a taste of Thailand from one of the families that introduced LA to the cuisine, Chao Krung remains a serene spot to savor life with good friends over memorable Thai classics.

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Chao Krung Restaurant, 111 North Fairfax Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036
Phone – 323-939-8361           web site – chaokrungla.com

Impressive Asian Cuisine In West LA

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We returned to Asian Fusion to delve deeper into their Asian cuisine mix.  The Vietnamese owners have a way with not only Vietnamese food but also Chinese, Korean and Thai, no small feat.

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The dining room is pleasant with steaming soup bowls carved into the seat backs.

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The menu expresses the diversity available and we were beyond pleasantly surprised by the proficiency they have with all of it.

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We began with the Japanese favorite edamame, these lightly salted soy beans were tender and warm, getting us off to a great start.

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We couldn’t resist the hybrid cheese wonton appetizer of fried wonton wrappers stuffed with a dollop of herb infused cream cheese. Crispy skins erupt with creamy flavor that can be dipped in the sweet and sour sauce served alongside.

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The flakey egg rolls come 2 or 4 to an order depending on what is requested.

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Tender poultry mixed with greens fill the chicken dumplings that come with a ginger packed sweet chili sauce enhancing the mild crescents.

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We love their banh mi and again had to heed the call of soft French baguettes cradling grilled meats with pickled and fresh herbs and vegetables.

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The caramelized marinade is singed onto the edges of super tender chicken for a flavor pop that along with tangy radish and carrots, fresh cilantro and hit of jalapeño, meld in perfect unison inside freshly baked bread.

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The pork version is also warm, moist, juicy savory goodness against the cool vegetable toppings.

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The extensive menu covers 125 Asian dishes in all, plus sides and drinks.

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Pan fried noodles are crisped brown under a riot of sautéed vegetables and protein of customers choosing.

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While beef udon are extra thick, well cooked al dente soft noodles that can be served with succulent slices of beef and a flavor-filled array of onion and peppers.

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Large portions and lunch specials make Asian Fusion an affordable and honestly one of the best Asian/Chinese/Vietnamese restaurants we have on the westside of Los Angeles.  We will be visiting his hidden treasure often for a delightful taste of some of the most well loved Asian cuisines available in Los Angeles.

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Asian Fusion, 1710 South Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 424-298-8247          web site – asianfusionla.com

Westside Thai With Caveats

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We love Thai Town, where we find some of the best Thai food in Los Angeles. But sometimes it’s easier to stay on the westside and avoid the hassle of east bound LA traffic during rush hour.

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Thai Boom in Palms is a little hole-in-the-wall, neighborhood spot that consistently gets a lot of high and mixed reviews, so we decided to try it.

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Their menu offers lunch specials and we look forward to trying these out as well, but we visited during dinner hours and found things we like about Thai Boom and things we’re not so crazy about.

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The tom yum, spicy, sour lemon grass, galanga and lime leaf scented clear broth is a wonderful rendition, loaded with mushrooms and plump juicy shrimp, our requested protein.  We were off to a great start and throughly enjoyed the soup, a standard that is well made here.

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We then moved on to the curry and noodle section of the menu.

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The pumpkin curry with tofu had silky cubes of soft tofu floating alongside sweet pumpkin chunks in a memorable curry sauce that was well spiced and perfectly suited for the namesake squash it is served with.

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We came into problems with the pad thai, the dish itself we thoroughly enjoyed after giving it a good toss with a hefty squeeze of lime juice and integrating all the fresh vegetables into the flavorful noodles. We also hit it with a splash of vinegar and chopped chilies to add a kick of spice. The only issue we had was with the meats.  We found the chicken dry and the pork and beef both tough and chewy.  We removed the less than stellar proteins and devoured our noodle dish. The staff were helpful and kind about our issues and we would definitely order this dish again except next time with shrimp or tofu, which they seem to have mastered.

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We don’t know if it was an off night or their market visits were spaced too far apart, but we found it a shame it ruin a perfectly good dish with less than the highest quality meats.

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We finished off the meal with our favorite Thai dessert, mango sticky rice. The rice was perfectly cooked and the coconut cream sauce served with it was a sweet, rich delight.  The mango however was far from the ripeness we usually get in Thai Town and although we did not send it back because it was still refreshing, it was a disappointment and we wouldn’t order it again unless we were assured the mango was super ripe and as close to sweet perfection as possible.

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Due to the challenge of finding stellar Thai food on the westside of Los Angeles and the delicious sauces, soups and noodle dishes Thai Boom offers, we would definitely return, but would make sure to order only their top quality offerings (shrimp and tofu seem to be their strong suits) and inquire to make sure they are providing their best because they definitely have the Thai flavors down pat.

Thai Boom, 10863 Venice Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90034
Phone – 310-842-8291          web site – thaiboomla.com

Thai Town Classic Where We Learned About Thai Cuisine

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Sanamluang was a revelation to us, it felt like the first “real” Thai food we had in Los Angeles.  They basically introduced us to a new cuisine vastly different from the westside Thai establishments that were serving sweet plates of mee krob, pad thai and barbecue chicken.  We didn’t know what to order back then, and Sanamluang with their extensive menu of 107 items, gave us a great education.

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The outdoor patio is a blessing on balmy summer nights, even though it’s in the parking lot of a mini mall.

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Our tour through Thai cuisine begins with appetizers and this evening we chose the chicken satay, although we like the pork as well.  The seasoned dark meat is marinated, skewered, grilled and served atop 4 half slices of toast.  One of the best parts of this appetizer is the cucumber and red onion salad, with its smack of sweetness tempered by a vinegar dressing that kicks everything to a higher level of enjoyment.

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The thick, über-peanuty, peanut sauce is so rich and delicious we would like to douse everything on the table in it.

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Their awning proclaims they have “The Best Noodles in Town”.

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We are slowly working out way through their noodle menu and tonight gravitated to the pad kee mao or drunken noodles. The flat noodles are made spicy with green chili, mint leaves, onion, thai spices and we went with the ground pork, although ground chicken or beef are also possibilities.  These big flat noodles are wonderfully fun to eat and their thick curls hold chunks of meat, onion and lots of seasonings.

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We also ordered a plate of three mixed meats and rice, which holds a sweet and savory barbecued pork that is a tender and flavorful honoring of the pork, while the in-house roast duck meat is juicy and the fried pork chunks hold an even balance of fat to meat ratio making them crisp on the outside and juicy fat succulence on the inside butted up against layers of meat.

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Following the chef’s recommendations, we went for the Thai beef jerky.

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Well seasoned slices of dried and then fried beef are chewy with crisp edges that go well with the spicy fish sauce provided.

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Sanamluang is a long standing institution that we always return to for their reliable renditions of the savories we first learned about Thai food on and that makes them something special in our book.

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Sanamluang Cafe, 5176 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90027
Phone –  323-660-8006

or

Sanam Luang Cafe, 12980 Sherman Way,North Hollywood, CA 91605
Phone – 818-764-1180

Big Thai With A Little Schtick

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The Palms Thai Restaurant satisfies patrons hungry for a taste of Thai and also delivers a bit of the unusual in the form of song stylings by the now famous Thai Elvis and a menu page dedicated to exotic  meats.

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The large and spacious dining room fills up quickly at both lunch and dinner, a testament to the tasty food served.

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We haven’t tried everything on the 100 item menu, but everything we have tried has been a profusion of thai spice, herbs and fresh ingredients creating a delicious expression of Thai cuisine.

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Thai salads are often a mix of protein and greens.  We love the spicy beef salad, a plate of grilled beef, dark leafy greens, carrot, cucumber and cilantro in a spicy lime dressing.

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We can pull tougher a complete light meal from the appetizer and salad menu, but sometimes we have to jump deeper into the items offered and go seriously substantial.

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Great curry is an art form and Palms Thai nails their curries no matter what color you choose.  We were called by the green curry with coconut milk, a creamy, slightly sweet basil tinged bath that enhances the meat of your choice. We went with chicken, which swam in the basil heavy coconut milk bath along with bamboo shoots and bell pepper.

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The curry sauce melts into the white rice, while the basil leaves, chicken and vegetables provide texture to sink our teeth into.

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Thai food is famous for their noodles and we appreciate the expertise it takes to hone a great bowl of Thai pasta.  Kee mao noodle also known as drunken noodles are of an unknown origin, but theories abound.  Stories of a drunk chef who threw whatever he was capable of pulling together, to the concept that the noodles are so spicy patrons need alcohol to consume them, to their being a great hangover cure are all theories we’ve heard.  Whatever the truth, this large flat noodle mixed with meat and vegetables is a great dish whether alcohol is involved or not.

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Thai coffee is not as sweet as Thai iced tea and also has a big smooth and creamy dousing of milk.  For dessert you can be assured that your mango sticky rice will be perfect because they only serve it at its peak ripeness in season when the mangos are bursting with natural sugars or else Palms Thai will not serve it.  So this seasonal dessert should not be missed, if its in season.

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For those interested in walking on the wild side they have a wild things menu which features such delicacies as frog legs, deer, and off the traditional path sausages, fish and offal.

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A metal sculpture pays homage to their Thai Elvis and a close look reveals the intricacies of media used to build this sculpture.

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We encourage a stroll over to get a closer look.

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If you happen to be in Hollywood at lunch time they have some exceptional pricing on lunch specials which allows guests to try their wonderful cooking with a minimal investment.  For a reliable solid Thai meal with some quirky enhancement Palms Thai delivers all they promise and more.

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Palm’s Thai Restaurant, 5900 Hollywood Boulevard,Los Angeles, CA 90028
Phone – 323-462-4422     web site – palmsthai.com

 

Westside Banh Mi

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There’s a new Asian spot on the westside that we’ve driven past at least a dozen times without a passing glance. We stopped by today and we’re beyond surprised to find an impressive Vietnamese kitchen lurking inside.

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The menu is an eclectic mix of Vietnamese, Chinese and Thai with tiny nods to Korean and Hawaiian cuisine.

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Seeing the Vietnamese heavy menu we knew we had to ordered the Banh Mi, a difficult to find item outside of Little Saigon in Orange Country. There are some California interpretations being sold in trendy restaurants, but banh mi, reminiscent of what we found in Vietnam, is lacking in West Los Angeles. This unique sandwich is a comingling of French and Vietnamese culture with grilled marinated beef, chicken, ham or pork nuzzling up to pickled vegetables, fish cilantro cucumber and jalapeños, all packed into a soft, mayonnaise slathered french baguette.

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Asian Fusion’s version combines everything we love about the dish. Juicy, tender flavorful pork, grilled crisp at the edges that plays well against the bright, fragrant herbs, the tang of picked radish and carrot, while the jalapeño supplies a kick of heat to the combination. We always request extra vegetables and they were more than happy to accommodate.

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The menu continues with pho, noodle soup and bun, a noodle salad topped with your choice of protein, vegetables and greens all tossed together in a sweet and tangy dressing,

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There are also Chinese dishes and anyone bringing a new Chinese voice to a westside kitchen is appreciated.

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Lunch specials are available for $7.50 to $8.95.

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For a very respectable and tasty banh mi sandwich, Asian Fusion brings the flavors of Vietnam to the westside of Los Angeles, saving those of us on this end of town a long drive down to Little Saigon and for that we are grateful.

Asian Fusion, 1710 S Robertson Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035                   Phone – 424-298-8247       web site – asianfusionla.com

Kosher, Vegan, Vegetarian Thai

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Always on the lookout for unusual and healthy cuisines we are happy to have found Bodhi Kosher Thai, which turns out to be a vegetarian/vegan Thai restaurant that also happens to be Kosher.  So they’ve got you covered no matter what you practice.

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Well hydrated is the best way to describe how we felt after enjoying their fresh coconut water. The sweet revitalizing nectar is best straight from the coconut itself.  We have yet to find a bottled coconut water that comes close to what’s inside mother nature’s package.

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We can’t resist appetizers and found the soy chicken sate skewers, marinated in coconut milk and served with a thick, rich peanut sauce and cucumber, onion salad, to be a close rendition of the real deal.  The sauces are luscious and we are now officially addicted to Bodhi’s peanut sauce.

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We continued down the appetizer menu with the fresh roll, a Vietnamese dish we  have always enjoyed, consisting of rice paper stuffed with cucumber, mixed greens, carrots, rice noodles and soy chicken.  It is served with a hoisin sauce which we pushed aside to dig back into the peanut sauce, a much better marriage of flavors and texture in our opinion.  We recommend you ask for peanut sauce, unless hoisin really floats your boat.

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The mango salad begins with juicy ripe mango and roasted cashew nuts followed by an abundant dose of greens, red onion, carrot and cabbage. A citrus lime dressing and avocado top the salad. Toss them all together for a refreshing and healthy lunch or dinner.

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Our favorite dish at Bodhi is the pumpkin curry, this kabocha squash and tofu based entree combines thai basil, broccoli, and bell pepper which all float in a warm pumpkin curry that is creamy, slightly sweet, with just a hint of spiciness.  We use our brown rice as a base for this rich and satisfying curry.

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We also had to add a bit of both the chili and vinegar from the condiments on our table, to take this dish to the next level of both spiciness and excitement.  A few spoonfuls should do it and even the vinegar alone will elevate the curry to new heights of savory delight.

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Paradise beef reminds us of the beef jerky we usually get in Thai restaurants, with its familiar crisp yet chewy character. Marinated soy beef is seasoned with kosher sea salt, lightly browned and splashed with special seasoning.  It is served on a bed of bok choy, broccoli and carrots.

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Orange soy chicken is battered and fried before being coated in a thick sweet orange sauce.  It is a dish for those who can’t eat Chinese or Thai without their orange chicken.

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We are pleased to find Thai food that is kosher, vegan and vegetarian, which makes it considerably easier to entertain friends with dietary restrictions while enjoying the fragrant flavors of Thailand.

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Bodhi Kosher Thai, 9303 West Pico Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90035
Phone – 310-248-2777      web site – bodhikosherthai.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thai Products Galore At LAX-C

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Just outside of Chinatown sits a large warehouse lovingly referred to as the Thai Costco.  Its real name is LAX-C and this wholesale supplier carries every Thai product a restaurant ever could need or want.  They also stock American and other ethnicities products, but the main focus here is on Asian ingredients.

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Enormous coolers are labeled poultry, fish, meats, wontons as well as other frozen goods. Items are sold in large quantities, with 25 pound bags of sugar and rice the norm.

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Items are also sold by the case and individually, making it possible to pick up just a few jars or cans if preferred over a full case.

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Hard to find exotic fruit such as mangosteen and lychee are standards instead of the exception.

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Each section covers goods from a number of different countries and cuisines.  In the spicy aisle you will find American, Asian and Mexican hot sauces along with a number of others countries spicy brands.

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We can’t get over the to go packaging and have acquired a selection of Chinese containers to use in art, to pack our lunch, as gift boxes and we are sure there are a multitude of undiscovered uses for this iconic wrapping.

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LAX-C also has a separate warehouse for decor. Restaurants or homes can be enhanced with Thai craftsmanship.  Furniture, sculpture, rice containers, every serving bowl and plate that has ever been seen in an Asian restaurant is available. Feel free to browse through this second, often ignored storage facility to find Thai made treasures.

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Maybe a Buddha is a dream purchase, well, they’ve got them.

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The fresh fish market will fry your purchase for you up to 4 PM.

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Unique imported products abound, we are currently obsessed with the super sweet freeze dried dragon fruit chips loaded with crunchy black seeds.

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LAX-C is an accessible and public friendly emporium housing a wide variety of merchandise available in sizes to suit any need.

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Little signage marks the entrance but a steady stream of carts loaded with produce, cases, and 25 pound bags of rice flow out the door.  Prices are good and no fees or membership is required to take advantage of the savings.  We love getting our Thai on here.

LAX-C, 1100 N Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone – 323-343-9000