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Visiting from SF.. Dukbokki, Al Pastor, Papaya Salad recs?

Hi, we'll be in town for a wedding on Sunday. We will be in K-Town on Friday night and I have a hankering for dukbokki, particularly a version with choll-myun noodles. Any specific restaurant? Our friend is planning to take us to Park's BBQ. How is it?

Also, I love Tacos Al Pastor, and we are staying in the Carson area. Any good taqueria recommendations in that neck of the woods? I'd be willing to travel but my SO doesn't share my passion, so the closer the better.

Lastly, any Thai papaya salad recommendations? It's another one of my favorite dishes.

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  1. I like the al pastor at Tacos El Gallito, a taco truck in nearby Harbor City. It is located in the parking lot of Aaron's Sales

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    Tacos El Gallito
    843 Pacific Coast Hwy, Los Angeles, CA 90710

    11 Replies
    1. re: Ernie

      Will check out. Is the al pastor carved from the spit?

      1. re: DezzerSF

        It's surprisingly hard to find al pastor on a spit in LA. Not like the SF Mission, where there are places (e.g., Taqueria San Jose and Taqueria Cancun) within a few blocks of each other. You might try El Taurino or Carnitas Michoacan -- I can't vouch for them personally but I've heard good things. If I remember correctly, both have tasty spit-roasted al pastor.

        1. re: a_and_w

          Yes, very surprising. I would've thought they'd have more of the real thing down here. I guess we're not really missing out up there eh?

          1. re: DezzerSF

            Nope. TSJ, in particular, is top notch -- I'll be stopping there tomorrow for a super burrito on my way back to LA. Where LA seems to excel is regional Mexican, especially Oaxacan. If you find yourself in Santa Monica, try the mole at Monte Alban, which is a favorite of mine and many other hounds. Still haven't been to another chowhound favorite, Guelaguetza, which is in K-Town.

          2. re: a_and_w

            It is not that hard to find al pastor on a spit in East Los Angeles. King Taco's (multiple locations) al pastor is prepared that way, La Taquiza, Taco Village, Tacos Mexico, etc. Unlike SF it is not confined to a couple of blocks here.

            1. re: Ernie

              I stand corrected. I was aware of King Taco, which is owned by the El Taurino folks, but not the others, which haven't been mentioned when this topic comes up. However, your characterization of spit-roasted al pastor in the SF Bay Area being confined to a few blocks is incorrect. Bottom line: if I were coming from SF, I wouldn't bother going out of my way for al pastor in LA.

              1. re: a_and_w

                That is a shame because the Mexican offerings in East LA are much more extensive than what is available in SF's Mission district

                1. re: Ernie

                  So true. No matter what part of the country you are coming from, E.L.A. is an absolute goldmine where Mexican chow offerings are concerned, and most of it remains unexplored by the pale faces on this board, myself included. <smile>

                  E.M.

                  1. re: Ernie

                    Ernie, if you reread what I wrote, you'll note that I agree that the regional Mexican offerings in LA are worth traveling to try. My comment was about the al pastor specifically, though I've honestly been underwhelmed by taqueria meat generally in LA, relative to the SF Bay Area. In fairness, however, my knowledge of East LA isn't nearly so extensive as yours. BTW, if you find yourself up north, search for some of Ruth Lafler's posts re taquerias in the East Bay. I think you'll find that there are many amazing trucks and taquerias outside the SF Mission...

                    1. re: a_and_w

                      As one who has explored both E.L.A. and S.F. Bay area Mexican grub I will say that while very different both excell in offering great grub! E.L.A. (and beyond) AND E. Bay area (thanks to Ruth L.) provide the best chow from trucks and taquerias. E.L.A.'s Whittier Blvd. vs Oakland's Fruitvale/International Ave. there is no contest! The scene, smells and flavors are different but both are so enjoyable!

            2. re: DezzerSF

              Not sure since they prepare the meat inside the taco truck at El Gallito, but it certainly tastes good like it was

          3. Sadly, my rec for papaya salad would have been the Wat Thai food court. But because it's been shut down for the forseeable future, I'll recommend the papaya salad at Ruen Pair.

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            Ruen Pair Restaurant
            5257 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

            1 Reply
            1. re: SauceSupreme

              If you're in NoHo, the best papaya salad is the raw blue crab version at Krua. In Orange County, the best is actually not papaya salad but green mango salad with crispy catfish bits at Restaurant Thainakorn.

              And yes, all som tum is compared with the divine som tum at the Wat Thai -- which, we hope, will return at some point.

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              Krua Thai Restaurant
              13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

              Thai Nakorn
              11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680

            2. meat quality wise, i think park's is the best in ktown so far. it's definitely worth to try. enjoy!!

              5 Replies
              1. re: doubleflavor

                The beef at Park's was some of the best I can remember. It's saying a lot since we ordered the unseasoned items! Nice marbling, tender, good beefy flavor.. we loved it. I wasn't that thrilled with the panchan but the beef more than made up for it. I didn't get my dukbokki fix yet though!

                1. re: DezzerSF

                  the best place for ddukbokki in koreatown is probably "Shin Dang Dong Dukkbokki". it is on western ave in a new strip mall on the left side (near western / beverly (a few blocks before beverly if you're headed out that way from wilshire).

                  It's a little difficult to find because the sign isn't so big and it's in korean but if you find it, it's good.

                  RVD.

                  1. re: rvd72

                    신덩동툭보키 (shin dang dong ddukbokki), if your transliteration is right (I haven't been, so I can't say for sure what the hangul is).

                    1. re: rvd72

                      We stopped here for lunch takeout on our way back up north. From the name, I was expecting to see Ddukbokki served up in many variations, but there is only one version served here, Rabokki. I briefly asked about Cchol myun but from the reply, I don't think they had it.

                      The rabokki itself was ok. The sauce was thin, and on the sweeter side, with not enough heat for me. It came with a dduk, ramen noodles, a hardboiled egg, fish cake, an egg dumpling, green onions, and carrots. It's a pretty good size portion and I only got through half of it. $7.99 for the lunch portion and $8.99 for dinner. I paid the latter price, "Sunday" was the reasoning.

                    2. re: DezzerSF

                      glad you enjoyed it. i know it's hard to find good dukbokki place. i havn't found any real good one yet... sorry

                  2. We're back in town so I'm refreshing my thread.

                    Is the Wat Thai food court still shut down?

                    Any updates on a dukbokki with cchol myon noodles? I don't particularly like it with ramen noodles.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: DezzerSF

                      Yes, the Wat Thai food court is still shut down.

                      1. re: Das Ubergeek

                        there's plenty of great som tam in LA w/o having to hit the Wat Thai temple:

                        Spicy BBQ Thai has a really hearty som tam w/ grilled shrimp:
                        5101 Santa Monica Blvd
                        LA, CA 90029

                        Can Coon Thai does a mean som tam:
                        9887 Alondra Blvd
                        Bellflower, CA 90706

                        per Erik M's translation, Jitlada has a "Pak Nang" style papaya sald, tho I can't say I've actually had this in my various visits:
                        5233 ½ Sunset Blvd.
                        Los Angeles, CA

                        1. re: TonyC

                          Thanks for mentioning those, Tony. Das Uber's pronouncements were a tad bold. <smile> Me, I always found the papaya salad at Wat Thai to be good, yes, but no better than many of those offered elsewhere. Versions made with fried/sweet pork, homemade pork skins, plaa raa (fermented fish paste), true phrik khii nuu ("mouse poop chiles"), etc.

                          FWIW, Ganda's som tam puu dawng (papaya salad with raw blue crab) remains one of my personal favourites. Especially when it's made "Thai hot."

                          Here is a picture, along with some of my notes on Ganda's Thai-language menu:

                          http://www.lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic....

                          And, having visited three times in the past three weeks, I am happy to say that Ganda is as good as ever.

                          Ganda
                          5269 Hollywood Blvd.
                          323.466.4281

                          E.M.

                          P.S. What's all this noise about al pastor being thin on the ground? On a daily basis I see more trucks and shops with spits than I can count. At any rate, I'm presently partial to the Fr-Sun nighttime operation which sets up on the patio at Rincon Oaxaquena Restaurant on Western in East Hollywood. [One block north of Sunset.] They do it up right: the pineapple, the cebollitas asadas, the Jarritos...ahhh. It's the perfect way to finish off a night spent drinking at The White Horse. <smile>

                          P.P.S. A new Lebanese-style rotisserie chicken shop by the name of "Western Chicken" will be opening soon in the same strip mall as Rincon Oaxaquena. [In the space formerly occupied by Beirut Caffe.] It remains to be seen, but when I recently met the gentlemen behind the new venture they promised a product superior to that of Al Wazir, Zankou, etc.