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Songkran (Thai New Year) 4/13 in Thai Town

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Just read that there will be a huge Songkran festival in Thai Town-- I believe they close down Hollywood Blvd from Western to Normandie and have vendors lining the street.

For those who have been there in years' past, how's the food? Which restaurants are usually represented? Or is it like Wat Thai where a bunch of local people set up shop for the day? How well are the different culinary regions of Thailand represented?

Mr Taster

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  1. I don't know how it'll go down this year considering Wat Thai is still closed. Last year was the first time we've gone to Songkran on Hollywood Blvd. I didn't think it was like Wat Thai at all. There are more non-food stalls with variety of services and commercials than actual food stalls. The prices were in general high, we could've gotten more for the money we spent in a Thai town restaurant. However, it can be interesting if you're not solely looking for food as there are a variety of live entertainments for free.

    1. fyi my understanding is that the wat thai festival will also be going on the same weekend.

      9 Replies
      1. re: jackt

        Really? Do tell more!
        http://www.watthaiusa.org/
        English version is not working all I can figure out is that something is happening that weekend, which makes sense considering it is Thai New Year!

        1. re: LaLa Eat

          I am a Thai linguist and I just looked at the Thai Temple website referred to above. There is nothing of any use about the festival, and which is to occur 12-13 April. The second para on the left only says that the man appointed to be the Songkran Festival Committee chairman can't do the job so they appointed another person. The caption under the top photo on the right only says that the people shown in the photo are the Festival Committee.

          1. re: LaLa Eat

            my cousin is one of the vendors and she said she reserved a spot at wat thai, and commented that the wat thai event is the same weekend as the thai town event this year (last year they did them a week apart i think). but i don't have any more details than that.

            1. re: jackt

              Does anyone have further information on whether the Wat Thai food stalls will be open this weekend (Apr 12-13)? Thanks in advance.

              1. re: nl06

                Yes, anyone with information re this event, please respond! Also, as a kid, I remember going to a Thai temple somewhere in OC or LA. I remember that it was also an animal sanctuary with lots of animals, and they had a fantastic Songkran festival. I know the place wasn't Wat Thai. Does anyone know the name of the temple/animal sanctuary I'm talking about? Thanks.

                1. re: im hungrry

                  Okay folks, here from the boonies of western North Carolina we just took pity on ya'll (know what "ya'll" means?) so I had my Thai wife call Wat Thai to get the scoop, and which is:

                  On Sat there will be LOTS of food stalls and music and a Thai kids dancing thing. On Sunday there will be the same LOTS of food stalls and since that is a Buddhist merit day there will also be special dancers and singers and music and a play.

                  Have a nice time ya'll! And don't eat too much ya'll!

                  1. re: ThaiNut

                    Thank you!

          2. re: jackt

            What are the big differences between the Wat Thai Festival and the Songkran on Hollywood Blvd? I have just discovered Wat Thai through this board but have not been there as there seems to be some confusion about Wat Thai being closed or not. Will they Wat Thai only be open for the festival...or can I hit it any weekend for food..?

            1. re: Dlish

              Wat Thai is primarily a temple. On the festival day there will be community performance type things along with the food vendors. My understanding is that the food vendors are only there for the event as the weekly foodcourt was voluntarily closed due to neighborhood issues.

          3. In response to some of your questions: The food is hit-and-miss. Thai restaurants from all over town are represented, as well as the occasioanal mom and pop setup. Stalls can be rented by anyone, though in general the fee precludes all but established retaurants. Most of the food is tasty, fresh, and offers a chance for the uninitiated to try something new in a bite-size portion. However, there is always bound to be a vendor who siezes on the opportunity to make a fast buck (like street fairs all over town). My advice? Take a moment and watch how the food is prepared, close your eyes and let your nose help judge, and try to avoid anything that's not prepared in single-serving portions. (Who knows how long that tray of food has been sitting over steam?) As far as different culinary regions, I've seen (and tasted) some excellent Isan (Northeast Thailand) specialties, though Northern delicasies are underrepresented, and the scarcity of ingredients (especially fresh seafood unique to the region) makes the cuisine of Southern Thailand nonexistent.
            Equally important to enjoying the fest is the chance to browse the other stalls, some of which offer unusual souvenirs and treats. You can even get a Thai massage (in an abbreviated form) while you're there. On a cultural note, they always have stages approximately halfway down the street set-up for Thai Classical Dance, Thai Classical Music, and Muay Thai (Thai Boxing). The afternoon usually features Thai rock n roll, which can be top rate.

            1. I went to check out the Songkran festival at Wat Thai today. There were some real tasty things to try there... I had a fantastic spicy green papaya salad that was the better than any version than I've tried in a restaurant. From the same booth, I also tried a freshly grilled marinated pork that was extremely flavorful, as well. We spent $20 and stuffed ourselves with a variety of different dishes and Thai iced teas to stay cool.

              1. We attended the Songkran festival in Thai Town today. Huge masses of crowds, food was tasty if unremarkable, save the welcome addition of that super friendly mango with sticky rice lady who used to be at Wat Thai every weekend. She told me that she's now at the New King Seafood Market every Saturday and Sunday--

                12811 Sherman Way
                North Hollywood 91605
                562-881-2636

                Mr Taster

                5 Replies
                1. re: Mr Taster

                  That mango with sticky rice is fantastic. Great info. Thanks!

                  1. re: BearCity

                    Thai Town was a let down. Vendors RAN OUT of food and no water spraying to be found. I am so dissappointed.

                    1. re: boopboopdedoo

                      horrible waste of time. a lot of Thai folks ended up at the local faves making the lines out of Ganda/Ord insufferable.

                      there were very few stalls of interest with most serving pad thai/satay. i'm not paying $6 for some friggin satay when Original Thai BBQ is across the street.

                      has anyone been to the actual Pudtan restaurant in Temecula? They were grilling hand stuffed sauges over charcoal.. yelping/googling yields absolutely nothing. they also had some interesting looking thin sour fish curry.

                      speaking of which, for a "Curry Festival", there was a sickeningly little amount of curry.

                      1. re: boopboopdedoo

                        There *was* water spraying... though mostly by kids with water guns and a couple of disinterested Thai girls who flicked small drops of water who were shilling for a bar. When they flicked me, I gave them a proper songkran dousing :).

                        Mr Taster

                    2. re: Mr Taster

                      I went to the festival too. I enjoyed myself, but I actually didn't really have any food. The lines were super long, standing in the hot sun; there weren't any places to sit and eat, and some vendors ran out of food. I ended up eating a free sample of curry from an Indian vendor - thank you, sir! it was good.

                      The heat was so strong I couldnt' stay long. I appreciated the sights and sounds and friendly vendors, but as far as having a Chowish experience it was a zero.

                    3. I attended as well, and I agree that the curries left much to be desired. Sadly, the best curry in the curry contest was (I thought) the Indian one.

                      Amidst the dozens of stalls offering pad thai, I found a gem offering grilled squid on a stick ($2). When doused with their chile-laden vinegary sauce, it was pretty tasty and worth a second round. The same stall was selling little homemade tubs of anchovy-chile paste ($5), which smelled good but which I have yet to try in a dish.

                      I can't vouch for the authenticity of the squid, but that, coupled with a couple little packets of sticky rice in banana leaves with taro paste, made the trip worthwhile.