It's time for mizducky to take another turn at blogging for mmm-yoso. Enjoy!
A couple of weekends ago I was up in Los Angeles to hear one of my favorite musicians play a gig, and decided to add a little Thai food-tourism to the mix--especially since Los Angeles apparently boasts the largest Thai community outside of Thailand (and also especially since most Thai food I've tried here in San Diego has left me pretty underwhelmed!) Alas, the wondrous weekend food court at the Wat Thai in North Hollywood is no more, having fallen victim to neighborhood pressure. But Thai Town had been on my radar screen for some months now, so that's where I headed.
I had meant to seek out Yai Restaurant, but alas I forgot the bit of Kirk's post that mentioned it was hidden behind a 7-Eleven--d'oh! But while driving along Hollywood Blvd. wondering what place I should visit instead, this flashy sign caught my eye:
With a sign like that, I figured, this joint could either be very good or very bad--but it wouldn't be dull.
Turns out this place is a whole shopping center--downstairs is a Thai grocery with a couple of smaller shops tucked in, while the Thailand Plaza Restaurant takes up the whole second floor.
Kind of a bit glitzier than my usual! The large rambling space is apparently some kind of semi-campy club scene at night, with waiters getting onstage and doing karaoke and such. At 3:30pm on a Saturday, it's almost deserted. But even though I was arriving at an off-hour, I get an unflaggingly cheerful greeting from the server when I asked to look at the menu. Looseleaf notebook with big pictures--and lots of them. I saw all the salads listed under "Issarn Specialties," and the surprisingly reasonable prices, and decided what the hell, let's stay and check this out.
This was a darn decent salad--not a huge portion, but fresh and the dressing well-balanced. And the crab was extremely fresh (and my server handled the "you know there's raw seafood in this dish, right?" inquiry very sweetly). While I ate, three or so more parties were seated--not that I was trying to eavesdrop, mind you, but several of them sounded like they were regulars, of Thai background. So maybe I'll give this place another try sometime, to check out what-all they were ordering.
I wrapped up my meal, and headed downstairs to check out Silom Market. This space was as sizeable as the restaurant upstairs--but it was hard to tell because the place was so jam-packed to the rafters with stuff:
Alas for me, there was also a surprising-to-me number of shoppers and staff about, so this was the only photo I could snap (I'm really shy about taking photos with people peering over my shoulder!). But this should give you an idea of the vibe.
Here, on the front passenger seat of my car, we have two winners and two also-rans. Underneath all the cilantro in the upper-right package is saku sai, little meat dumplings whose skin is made of translucent tapioca pearls. These were delicious, if a little gloppy. The upper left package contained some extremely forgettable rice and four wonderfully cilantro-laced sausages--extremely yum!
The other two things I bought to bring home, only to discover once there they were yecch. The cardboard cup contains nam prik pow, a different brand than the one I'd last enjoyed--I should have stuck with that brand because this stuff was wretched, like machine oil. And the long sausage-looking thing said "preserved durian"--according to the label, just durian mixed with sugar. I thought I could sneak up on the durian experience this way. Uh-uh, this stuff was vile--and I'm not sure if it was the fault of the durian or the recipe. Guess I need to toughen up and try the real thing one of these days.
Obviously I've only just randomly scratched the surface of Thai Town's food riches. But no doubt I'll be back in LA pretty soon for another gig -- and further food explorations.
Thailand Plaza/Silom Market
5321 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles CA 90027
Google Maps link