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Aug 10, 2001 10:42 PM

thai food in orange county

  • m

hi everyone,

i've received some wonderful recommendations in the la area for asian food, but do you have any recommendations for thai food in orange county? i would appreciate any and all recommendations.


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  1. Of course, Royal Thai on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach/Costa Mesa has been an institution here, but I think it's mediocre at best (in fact, I haven't eaten there for about 9 years).

    Personally, since I could care less about the ambiance and the only thing that matters to me is the taste of the food, there is an incredibly good hole-in-the-wall Thai Restaurant in the strip mall at Jeffrey and Irvine Center Drive in Irvine (I think it's called Thai Spice). If you order over the counter, rather than pick what's on the steam tables, you'll get some incredibly tasty Thai food, and in addition to the standard (Pad Thai, Tom Kae Kai, Garlic Pepper Chicken and Beef, Mee Krob, etc.), you can find a few of the more unusual Thai dishes, as well.

    5 Replies
    1. re: Hoc

      Thai Spice is also located on 19th in Costa Mesa, right before Taco Mesa. It is very good, I would consider it take out only. Bangkok Thai in Crystal Court is also a good bet, although I am not an afficeinado on Thai food. It is a sit down type place, medium priced, seemingly authentic.

      1. re: Ginger Wolf

        I second the recommendation for Thai Spice on W. 19th in Costa Mesa. It's the only Thai restaurant in OC I've been to that actually tastes like what I've eaten in Thailand. In other words, they make their food *spicy*--eye-watering, nose-dripping, suck-on-an-ice-cube-for-relief spicy. Among my favorite dishes is the salad with ground chicken, bean thread noodles, and a spicy lime dressing--sorry, but I forget the proper Thai name.

        They actually do have tables--it's not just take out, though the atmosphere is nothing to write home about. In my book that's a plus--they keep the focus 100% on the food and thereby eschew absurdities like crediting people like the "lighting consultant" on the menu. Not to mention that you can get a great meal for under $10 a head.

        Bangkok IV in Crystal Court across from South Coast Plaza and Royal Thai on PCH just north of Newport Blvd. are both good, though I'd choose Thai Spice 9 times out of 10.

        1. re: Ginger Wolf

          I find the Thai Spice chain to be mostley inedible. The one on Irvine Blvd is plain awful. I've eaten at the one on Jeffery and it is only good if you have them cook to order. Otherwise, the same awful quality of the rest of the chain.

        2. re: Hoc

          Thai Princess is a great little Thai place in Huntington Beach on Beach Blvd and Heil (just south of the 405 in the Target shopping center). The food is inexpensive ($5-$7) but is interesting, well prepared, the menu goes well beyond Pad Thai, and the staff is very friendly.

          1. re: Eric

            I 2nd Thai Princess. It looks like Americanized strip mall fare, but don't be fooled. The food is very good and very spicy!

        3. I like a little Thai joint in Brea called Thai Specialty (2500 East Imperial Highway, Brea, CA 92821, 714) 256-2229). They are run by a family and they usually churn out really good food. It's crowded for dinner on weekdays as well as weeknights, so the service may be a little slower since they're understaffed. But we've been going for many years and have never beend disappointed by our food.

          My husband swears by the chicken curry and as long as he's been going there, I don't think he's ever ordered anything different. The egg rolls are also good (comes with lunch, or order as an appetizer for dinner).

          I like trying different dishes there, and the crab fried rice has been my recent fav. I also enjoy all the noodle dishes, I always have problems remembering the names, but they are all worth trying. I think they have the best Thai iced tea, and believe me, I've tried my fair share of Thai iced teas!

          I definitely think it's a great place and the atmosphere is great.

          1. My family has been going to this restaurant for over 10 years; it's called Royal Thai Orchid and it can be unbelievably slow at peak Fri. and Sat. nights, that is if you can stand the wait to get a table. It's off the 55 at Katella and Tustin, in the center with Round Table Pizza and Ralphs. My grandfather particularly likes the stuffed chicken wings, sausage and mushroom soup, and the chicken satay. They have a seperate page for vegetarians and I have tried a few things off there-- the pad see ew, the pad thai, and some of the vegetable mixes. It's all great.

            1 Reply
            1. re: a.c.
              R. Christopher

              Royal Thai Orchid was a huge disappointment -- the chicken in the pad see yew was inedible, the pad prik king had all the subtlety of Atomic Bomb hot sauce, and it wasn't cheap. It's not tough to make good pad see yew. Pad prik king is a tougher dish, but this was inexcusable. The sauce didn't have any of the crucial hints of lemongrass, and the beans were soggy. Go here only if your only other choice is Del Taco.

            2. There's a pretty excellent place in Buena Park, Thai Nakorn on Beach & Stanton. Richly flavored dishes that don't sing out "made for the American palate" and a definite homestyle touch (I'm a bit sick of the neo-art-deco-in-miami-vice-colors most of these places have).

              1 Reply
              1. re: JenW

                I was introduced to Thai Nakorn by a friend who grew up in Bangkok. This is absolutely the best Thai restaurant in Southern California that I know of and I'm usually the only non-Thai dining there, which basically assures it's authentic.

                My favorites:
                * Massaman Curry, tofu
                * Pad Thai, tofu
                * Som Dum (Papaya Salad)
                * Larb, chicken
                * Tom Yum or Tom Kha w/shrimp
                * Mango w/sticky rice

                Also I always see the Thai people ordering the whole fish and it looks amazing. Beware that they, like all authentic Asian places, use dark meat chicken so request white meat if that's what you want. I now get everything with tofu and it's just as delicious.

                Prices are so low. My friend and I usually order all of the above for about $50 including tip and take home lunch for the next 3 days.

                I happily drive down from LA just to go to Thai Nakorn. It may sound close, but if you live in So Cal, you know that crossing from LA to OC and vice versa is like crossing a border -- you have to have a really good reason!

                11951 Beach Blvd (on the corner of Chapman)
                Stanton, CA 90680
                (714) 799-2031

              2. This is the best kept secret in Orange County (I guess not anymore). Spice Thai in Lake Forest serves the best Thai food I have had outside of Thailand. I spent a good deal of time in Thailand (from the north to the south to the east) and I took cooking classes there too. Not that I'm the authority on Thai food, but I know how it tastes in Thailand. Spice Thai is fantastic! All of their curries are immaculate, som tum (papaya salad) and tom ka gai (cocoanut soup) are on point as well. The noodle dishes are not all authentic but they are all great. Give it a try and let me know what you think; you will not be dissapointed.

                3 Replies
                1. re: jayspun

                  If you're speaking of the one on Muirlands, I ate there once and the food was horrid.

                    1. re: jayspun

                      We went for lunch and had lunch specials. The soup had so much mint in it, that even after we got our entrees, I could still taste mint on my palate. We shared dishes and I tried the Crying Tiger. The meat was overcooked and tough. The dipping sauce was good though. I had ordered their self-proclaimed "best pad thai in the US" hoping to find something better that what is generally offered in Thai restaurants. It was really bad. The noodles were mushy and came out in a big glob. The bean sprout and cabbage were limp instead of crispy. What really irked me is that I ordered it a #9 spicy. The server/owner refused to make it the way I requested. When the dish arrived, it was bland. I asked (3 times) for a spice tray and she did not want to give it to me. I finally asked another server to bring it to me and she rushed over and almost refused to let me use it. She insisted that I only use the dried powdered chili and not the chili paste.

                      I also tried one of the curries and it was good, just nothing special.