Great Thai near UCLA, or anywhere on the west side?
Just a quick one, because we are on this tight schedule, but we went to Cafe Talesai and both really enjoyed it! Less than a mile from our hotel, parking right in front and at six we were there first customers and had the best table in the place...J thought the Thai Ice Tea was as good as she has ever had, I was quite happy with a few glasses of Groth Sauvignon Blanc (especially since J drove 'home')
Dishes we shared included the spicy shrimp with lime and chili sauce, which was like a salad with six very fresh shrimp; papaya salad, a nice version though not spicy enough for my taste; wild king salmon, yumm; and J's favorite: mixed vegetables in red curry sauce, with bright and clean flavors.
Dessert was mango with sticky rice, and the mango was as good as the gold standard (Lotus of Siam in Vegas)...service was excellent and friendly. Nice, modern, clean lines in the atmosphere. Relaxing vibe, and quiet yet not staid.
It was a bit pricy, (about $100 for all of that including tax and tip, with two glasses of wine and two ice teas), but the ingredients were top quality, and the cooking was delicious. And after all, this is Beverly Hills...
At those prices, it probably won't be J's college hangout (though she did take the card and told me she expects to be taken there on a date soon :-)), but an excellent choice for when Mom is in town and treating!
Thanks hounds, for coming through again, and helping J to fall in love with LA already (yes, she claims she loves it so much here that she is staying down here after graduation...which is fine by me, as it gives me more excuses to visit and explore all the places to eat! )
you are most welcome. BTW, J doesn't eat much meat (other than seafood if that counts as meat) or I would have ventured into other areas of the menu...of dishes I spied going to other tables, the larb looked very good (and was a generous portion), as did the eggplant (not a favorite of J's so we didn't order). They also have corn fritters I'd love to try. If you like things spicy, I'd emphasize that, as even the 'spicy' dishes were fairly mild...but tasty, which is what really matters. Thanks again to all!
this is what you do. you hop on the 405 at wilshire. take that north to the 101. exit western. et viola. good thai food.
westside there is nothing i'd even bother with.
have some persian food. or japanese on sawtelle!
pardon my sarcasm. but if your daughter really loves thai food. do her a favor and go to wat thai on the weekend (it is a buddhist temple that has food stalls in the parking lot on sat and sun the food is great. it is really amazing. and quite a cultural experience too. its on roscoe between the 170 and the 5. from ucla it should take about hmmm... (22 mins according to google maps)
Thanks for the suggestion, the temples are good places for Thai food here in SF as well, but unfortunately we aren't staying the weekend, and our time will be VERY limited....I will mention it to here for future reference though!
(do you really believe google maps given freeway traffic in LA?)
OK, so I am going to be the cranky dissenter here. I live within walking distance of Siam Chan - and I don't go there ever. In fact, I don't go anywhere in Westwood (sorry, Thai House is pleasant and very much Americanized and Emporium is not even decent - just blaah) or West LA. I used to order-- very carefully-- from Chan Dara, but they have jacked up their prices and their delivery charges twice in the last year. And it was never a super option to begin with. I never liked Natalee either.
Where does that leave me? Driving far, unfortunately.
Mind you, I used to live in Thailand and so maybe I am just too picky and I need to get over it. But, for now, I am lucky to have Thai food out 2X/month (and I used to eat it 3-4X/week in San Francisco and for almost every meal in Bangkok).
NoHo is the best bet for Thai food from the Westside. Sri Siam, Krua Thai, the Wat on weekends...all great. Thai Town is a difficult option for weekdays, but do-able on the weekends--Ruen Pair, Rodded, Sanamluang every once in a while - all good options.
I need to try Cafe Talesai. Upscale/creative is fine with me, if it is tasty.
From about '94-'99, we used to hit Khun Paw (maybe a poor transliteration???) - the place on Market in the Castro - pretty regularly. Sadly, its gone now. But, in SF (and in NYC and Pittsburgh), ordering in Thai seems to make a much bigger difference in quality of food received than it does in LA. Too many farang who speak Thai round these parts, I guess.
To get back on LA-focused chow:
One option in the West LA area that appeals to a very specific group of people that hasn't been mentioned in this thread - California Vegan. It is run by Thai people and the menu is Thai (mostly)- avoid pretty much anything that isn't Thai. But they have a good curry dish and another curry served in a coconut that my GF quite likes. But - fake meat is their thing and if it isn't yours, this is not such a great idea either.
I live adjacent to Westwood Village, and none of the Thai or any other food is outstanding. But I have good opinions of some of the places others have mentioned.
Thai House is right across from Whole Foods on Gayley, and does have an upscale ambience with tablecloths, good service, and nice glasswear and settings. They offer satisfying lunch specials with soup, rice and an entree for under $10 -- I've enjoyed their cashew chicken ordered spicy. They are usually uncrowded and relaxing for dinner, and I like their mee krob and the yellow curry. I think their pad thai is a bit bland. But the overall atmosphere and value is better than Noodle Planet or other Village eateries. This is the place I recommend to friends to avoid the chains (Chili's, CPK) or high-priced places (Napa Valley Grille, Tanino) in the Village while being treated well.
If I'm ordering in Thai or out and about in the neighborhood, my choice is Siam Chan. It is on Colby south of Santa Monica Blvd. (behind the 20/20 Video) and there is a metered public parking lot behind. Friendly, tasty, and about as reasonably priced as Thai comes. Free delivery, and they package some items in vented containers so crisp items don't steam. I like their mee krob, the fried stuffed chicken wings, their wide spicy noodles with beef, and their curry as well.
Do stop into Diddy Riesse if your daughter is going to UCLA -- enjoy the large and soft cookies (3 for a buck) and cheap ice cream. The lines move very fast, the ice cream sandwich is fun and filling, and the cookies crisp up after some time in the fridge.
I think both Mr. Noodle and Thai House, which JBC mentioned, are pretty good. They are both in walking distance from UCLA, in Westwood village. I wouldn't say that the food is "great"--it's pretty average, inexpensive food oriented to a college crowd--but they would provide a nice opportunity for you and your daughter to walk around Westwood and get to know the UCLA area. Mr. Noodle is super casual, whereas Thai House tries to be a nicer restaurant--it has real cloth tablecloths and napkins and everything. Despite their different atmospheres, the food quality and prices are pretty comparable. If you go to Mr. Noodle, be sure to stop by Didi Riese for dessert. This cookie store is a UCLA institution offering 3 yummy cookies for a dollar or an icecream sandwich made with your choice of 2 cookies and icecream for $1.25.
Hear, hear! Diddy Reese is a must for UCLA fans!
Just FYI, though: Parking is an absolute nightmare in Westwood, so unless by some miracle you find meter parking right away, be ready to circle a few times around the block.
There's a tiny parking structure on the SE corner of Broxton Ave & Weyburn Ave, but I've forgotten if they still give 1 hour Free Parking, though.
Parking is indeed quite difficult, but I imagine that if you are already going to orientation activities at UCLA you will have already shelled out a ridiculous $8 for parking. So just leave your car where it is and walk from the UCLA campus.
Also, forgot to mention that I hate Natalee Thai, which another person suggested. Not good quality. Same for their other rec of Noodle Planet...Mr. Noodle is much better than Noodle Planet. For instance, the chicken dishes at Noodle Planet contain really fatty dark meat, which you can upgrade to dried out white meat for a small fee ($2?)...but why do that when you can get the same dishes with decent white meat at Mr. Noodle?
With C session just starting street parking may be more difficult, but I have found fairly good success at finding street parking on Strathmore, Kelton, and Gayley by Veteran. Its a very nice area, so walking is not really a punishment and it saves the $8 for one more dish or 8 more ice cream sandwiches at Diddy Reese.
I always recommend Siam Chan. I went to UCLA and graduated there 5 years ago, and now live about 3 blocks from Siam Chan. In fact, I still have their number on my speed dial. It's only about 5 minutes drive from UCLA (Take Veteran Ave or Westwood Blvd --> Right turn on Santa Monica Blvd --> Left turn on Colby).
And yes, it's a small, cramped restaurant (it used to be pink on the outside, but they recently repainted to a brown or orange color, I think) that needs more lighting, but the wait staff are extremely friendly who smile a lot and are more than happy to answer any questions you might have(ask for Rosie! Poom is pretty nice, too.), and they really zip from table to table, even when there are a lot of orders. Just be patient and nice to them as well! =)
- I would recommend their BBQ Chicken.
- If you like peanut-flavored dishes, please get their Praram dish.
- Their orange chicken is slightly spicy, but quite good. (It's a little more expensive than their other dishes at around $8).
- Their fish on the Specials menu (pompano?) really reminded me of the time I ate a similar dish overlooking the Mekong River in northern Thailand. (It's heavy on the basil and ginger, though!)
- Their Pad Thai is loved by some, hated by others (Please know that their dish has two unique qualities: (1) It's pink, and (2) Most have said that it's sweeter than other restaurants).
I have always been really happy with their dishes, and it's a great place to just hang out and talk with people.
If you go there or if you go anywhere else, please post up a review! Good luck!
1611 Colby Ave
LA, CA 90025
[Closed on Sundays]
Good for a convient Thai fix with 18 $6.95 all day specials and possibly the best food for value option in Westwood Village, 1/2 block south of UCLA campus:
Mr. Noodle - Exotic Asian Cuisine (really Thai & Chinese)
936 Broxton Ave. (1 block west of Westwood Blvd.)
I tried the a lunch special at the Thai House on Gayley that the other poster mentioned and was very underwhelmed.
1049 Gayley Ave. (1 1/2 blocks from SW corner of UCLA
Emporium Thai Cuisine I think is pretty good but honestly I haven't been in a long time so maybe someone else can chime in with a recent experience there.
Emporium Thai Cuisine
1275 Westwood Blvd. (5 1/2 blocks south of UCLA
There are 2 others farther south on Westwood Blvd. but have never read or heard of any real resaon to go there (Westwood Thai Cafe & Thai Fresh).
If Beverly Hills is considered part of the west side, than a more creative upscale (& Expensive) Thai experience at:
9198 Olympic Blvd.
Driving - From UCLA, south on Westwood Blvd.; turn left on Olympic Blvd. and keep going through Century City into B.H.
Everything(?) else, like Thai Town in Hollywood, violate your geographical restrictions.
Thanks all for the posts; I will be copying the Westwood suggestions for J to check out once she moves there! But actually, we are staying near Beverly Hills (couldn't find a Westwood hotel for any sort of reasonable price by the time I got around to booking) so I think I may try Cafe Talesai....any dishes you particularly recommend?
Will report back, thanks!
Try Natalee Thai on Venice and Clarington or on Olympic and Robertson. http://nataleethai.com/ I remember that Thai house on Pico was also good (there might be a branch on Galey). All three have very stylish architecture and good food. If you are into seafood, try the adaman sea soup.
There are a couple of places on westwood blvd that are good as well (Westwood Thai Cafe), but the ambience is not as cool. Noodle Planet on Westwood has a few Thai dishes, and is good for pan asian. They have a fantastic tom kha gai (coconut lemongrass soup)