Thai town or Korean BBQ
I'm taking a couple of adventurous eaters out Saturday night and am looking for some good recommendations for Thai in Thai-town or Korean BBQ. Looking for a slightly nicer restaurant but if the food is great a hole in the wall will work as well. I have never been to Thai-town. As for Korean BBQ, while I haven't been in quite some time I was always fond of the Safety Zone. Has anyone been more recently? Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Thanks in advance.
Are they *really* adventurous?
IMO, the most exciting food to be found in Thai Town these days--heck, in ANY U.S. town these days--is the Southern Thai food prepared at Jitlada Thai Cuisine on Sunset Blvd. But, it may be lost on less adventurous sorts as there is little which they will likely recognize on the menu, and a good deal of what they will find there is *blazingly* hot.
Jitlada was recently acquired by a Southern Thai gentleman by the name of Suthiporn Sungkamee, and he and his Southern Thai wife have added a special roster of traditional Southern Thai dishes to Jitlada's existing menu. Together, they meticulously craft these unique menu items by hand to include as many original Southern Thai ingredients as possible.
It is beautiful, beautiful food, and I highly encourage you (all) to give it a try.
For my translation of Jitlada's Southern Thai Menu, and multiple food pics, see my recent report at LTHForum:
Jitlada Thai Cuisine
5233 ½ Sunset Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA
re: Erik M
"Wow, who knew? And it takes a Chicagoan to discover it -- probably because most of us had moved on from Jitlada years ago!"
As I said in the extended writeup linked above, it was a rather fortuitous discovery because I, too, had moved on from Jitlada after my last series of visits nearly three years ago. At any rate, whenever I visit L.A. I make it my mission to "discover" or "uncover" these sorts of places. See, for example, my most recent menu translations for Ganda, Noodle ThaiTown, and Spicy BBQ Restaurant:
(Noodle Thai Town
(Spicy BBQ Restaurant
[I am no longer a participant at LTHForum, so, going forward, I intend to share as much as possible with this board directly.]
"Thanks so much for your work translating the menu, this should be invaluable."
I am only too happy to do them, and I sincerely hope that folks put them to work. In return, I only ask that bloggers and food writers who choose to take advantage of my labours give me credit for what I have done. After all, the ability to translate these menus required first learning to read, write and speak Thai, and, I gotta tell you, that didn't come easy at all. ;)
BTW, I check a whole roster of L.A.-based food blogs nearly every day, including you own, and it is high time that someone thanked you folks for what it is that you do!
re: Erik M
I am glad to have piqued your interest! To answer your question, the oxtail was delicious, but, then again, there isn't anything pictured in that writeup which was less than delicious. ;)
--Both the noodle dish and the rice salad dish are really "one-plate" meals, and aren't really suitable as part of a broad table array.
--Both of the soups pictured are relatively mild, and so I would heartily recommend either one as a counterpoint to spicier and richer dishes like a curry.
--If you *really* like heat, give the dry beef curry a try. When Tui made it for me the first time it was one of the hottest Thai dishes I'd ever been served in the U.S.
--If you like beef, the beef and cassia bud curry (not pictured) is another great beef dish (and a Southern Thai classic), but not nearly as spicy as the one described above.
--Have you ever tried sator beans? They are, to put it mildly, and acqired taste, but one which I absoulutely adore. If you are game, I would suggest the relatively simple sator bean stir-fry.
--The mudfish curry is kind of spicy, but the inclusion of tamarind really mellows it out. Anyway, I'd never tried kaeng tay poh prepared with fish before, only pork, so this one was quite a nice surpise for me.
--I adored Tui's raw crab prep, but, in order to make it, he took special delivery of live crab for me on that day.
--I'd suggest rounding out your meal with a salad, and the papaya salad pictured is quite good. Jitlada's standard papaya salad is also quite good, and you'll find it listed on their regular menu.
--Oh, and speaking of the regular menu, I highly recommend the steamed mussels. They are one of the most popular items with the Thai clientele. Beautiful presentation.
As I said in the extended writeup, I encourage new diners to talk to Tui or his sister, "Jazz," directly. Give them a feel for your tastes and they will be sure to stear you in the right direction. And, be sure to tell them that "Erik from Chicago" sent you. Trust me, it will make a great experience that much better. Tui worked with me for hours detailing the ins and outs of the menu, and they will be very excited to see others put my translation to work!
re: Erik M
re: Erik M
It's not a bad question, but I don't think lettuce is by any means a universal salad ingredient. I don't know the actual translation of the Thai names but they're just used to describe dishes that are served room temperature, often with a sour dressing.
Same with Chaat in India or beet salad and pea salad in Russia, etc.
But Thai beef salads usually have lettuce in more Americanized restaurants like Rambutan.
The short answers are "Yes," and "Yes."
Now, for the long answers...
Lettuce was not traditionally cultivated in Thailand, but it has made its way into the modern Thai culinary repetoire largely as a result of technological advances and commercial forces in the Thai agricultural industry. [The development of hydroponic farming practices, etc.] And, even today, when lettuce *does* appear in various regional cuisines in Thailand, it mainly fuctions as a garnish or decoration, not as an integral ingredient meant to be savoured and celebrated on its own.
"Why is that," you might ask? Well, yam, or "salads," have always tended to be heavily-dressed affairs in Thailand, and lettuce is widely understood to hold up poorly under these circumstances.
"I've seen it used in a number of different way in ThaiAm (i.e. Thai American) cuisine," you might say. Well, lettuce *is* commonly found in ThaiAm cuisine, but that's mainly due to its relative abundance and affordability here in the U.S. [And, this was particularly true during the early years of the ThaiAm restaurant industry when so many traditional Thai salad ingredients were hard to come by.]
i always loved soot bull jeep but ever since my last trip a couple months ago, i feel as if the quality has gone down and the meat along with the banchan (side dishes) aren't as tasty.
here are a couple other good korean bbq places. nice korean bbq houses are lacking for sure & the existant ones (chosun/woo lae oak) don't thrill me. the following spots are more good, authentic, and casual for Korean food:
Corner Place Restaurant
2819 James M Wood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (213) 487-0968
Sa Rit Gol Korean Restaurant
3189 W Olympic Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
Phone: (213) 387-0909
& for a slightly more authentic Korean surrounding (& more $) I would recommend
Dong Il Jang - 3455 W 8TH St
Los Angeles, CA 90005-2517
what about Palm Thai/Elvis for Thai food? They moved a couple blocks west but the food is still great.
I have to second all of SauceSupreme's comments. For Thai make sure you bring a bunch of friends so you can get a lot of stuff at either Sanamluang or Ruen Pair. The duck salad, laarb, mee krob and pad see ewe are musts at Sanamluang.
For Korean if you want something less smoky try Park's BBQ (Vermont just north of Olympic in strip mall on West side of the street). I think they have some of the best marinated short ribs and a good overall selection of other non KBBQ items. Soot Bull Jeep is always a good choice but you'll have to clean whatever you're wearing after waiting 30 - 45 minutes depending on when you go.
In Thai Town, my recs are for Sanamluang or Ruen Pair. Yai is another oft recommended spot but I haven't been yet. Ruen Pair will have better ambience than Sanamluang.
If you've got adventurous eaters, I say take them to Soot Bull Jeep if they're looking for Korean BBQ.
For Bangkok-style food, Ruen Pair has the more authentic ingredients. Thailand Plaza has the best variety of dishes and even impressed the heck out of a Thai-born work associate of my father's when he visited Thai Town from out of state.
If you're into the northern Thailand spicy stuff, go to a hole in the wall called "Spicy BBQ" in a minimall on Normandie and Santa Monica in East Hollywood.
Thai Elvis at Palms Thai is definitely a sight to see, but I find their food more greasy and bland than other Thai joints.