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Jul 28, 2002 12:44 PM

getting to Renu Nakorn

  • s

Having complained about the difficulty of getting to Renu Nakorn in far-off Norwalk, I've made a remarkable discovery. The MTA 460 bus, the Disneyland special, which leaves from Broadway and 6th downtown among other places, stops right next to Renu Nakorn at the corner of Rosecrans and Bloomfield (which is right near I-5). It may even stop closer. I've attached a link to the bus schedule.


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  1. While I don't think it's really worth it to travel the great distance just to go to a restaurant like Renu Nakorn (I've had much better Thai food elswhere), I think you can get to Norwalk via Metrorail. Keep up the good work, Stan!

    21 Replies
    1. re: Harsha

      RIGHT! and where might that be??????????????? I can't wait to see this post. SU MEI-YU (the author of CRACKING THE COCONUT<it won cook book of the year) happened to be cooking dinner for us and another 2 dozen lucky people last week and all I can say is RENU NAKORN has got her attention even thought she owns restaurants and is considered a EXPERT on Thai cusine.

        1. re: russkar

          Chan Dara over Renu Nakorn any day.

          1. re: Samo

            Surely you're being saracastic (or else I wouldn't call you Shirley). The only dish at Chan Dara that's better than Renu Nakorn is the eye candy.

          2. re: russkar

            Which Thai restaurants do I think are better than Renu Nakorn? Various food stands at Wat L.A. in North Hollywood, Thai Nakorn and Captain Thai Cuisine in Buena Park, and several Thai restaurants in the Washington D.C. area. Also, the last time I went to Renu Nakorn the owner (I believe it was the owner, a petite lady from Northern Thailand who appeared to be in her 30's?) and a young guy who is always there, started making fun of me behind my back in Thai just because I asked them if they could tell me which dishes were from Esarn. And yes, it is hard to tell when they have nearly a hundred dishes on their menu (most of which they don't specialize in) ranging from wonton soup to sukiyaki. On a previous occasion, the same lady was fuming with anger and literally turned red when I was telling her about my experience at one of my favorite Thai restaurants in the D.C. area. Nothing I said was even remotely offensive, but apparently it was enough to piss off an insecure and arrogant person like her.

            1. re: Harsha

              I was just at Thai Nakorn in Buena Park a week ago and I'm definately sticking with Renu as my fav.

              1. re: russkar

                Then you can stick with it. I think the fact that there is far more Thai, Lao-Esarn, and Laotian people eating at Thai Nakorn in Buena Park speaks for itself.

                1. re: Harsha

                  Thai Nakorn is a solid choice, but I definitely prefer Renu. As for Nakorn being more populated, it's a bigger restaurant and parking is considerably better.

                  Besides, McDonald's has "one billion served", which means jack and squat.

                  1. re: Afty

                    The majority of Thai, Lao-Esarn, and Laotian people I have come across prefer Thai Nakorn over Renu Nakorn for the food, so I do believe that there is some significance to that. Your McDonald's analogy isn't relevant to this subject.

                    1. re: Harsha

                      Well, Thai Nakorn is a good place, and because of that, I can't really muster a lot of passion to debate you on which of the two is better, especially since individual preference or opinions regarding the two is 100% subjective by definition. I won't ever convince you that Renu dishes taste better and you'll never convince me that Thai Nakorn dishes tastes better. Taste buds are like fingerprints...

                      You can't have enough great local thai restaurants, so I'm glad Thai Nakron and Renu are both around. Personally, I'll always frequent the latter.

                      The only point I will make is that in terms of numbers of patrons, there can be little doubt that if Renu's location and restaurant were a little more prominent, the crowds would be significantly larger.

                      1. re: Afty

                        I have a friends that love Palms.
                        They like it soooooo much, that when they visited my wife and me, in Bangkok, they compared many of Bangkok's best to Palms.
                        And Palms always won!!!!

                        My in-laws are really looking forward to their next visit.

                    2. re: Afty

                      In 9 trips to bangkok, I've logged about 12 months dining from the Oriental, to the soup-on-the-tricycle guy.
                      Some food I loved. Some gagged me. (The trike was great!)

                      I'm married to a Thai woman and have friends working at Samanluang, Thai Nakorn and other places.

                      Although "authentic", the hawker food at Wat Thai LA wasn't great.
                      Although many Thais eat there, Thai Nakorn has a huge Vietnamese clientele.
                      There's good dishes at many all of these establishments. There's also bad.

                      At least those mentioned are Thai, not Chinese with peppers and peanuts, as is the case with 95% of Thai restaurants.

                      Much of this is a matter of personal taste and attitude.
                      Lighten up!

                      1. re: Curt

                        Well stated and I couldn't agree more. This brings up the age-old "authentic vs. good" argument. Yes, a dish can be authentic, but not necessarily good.

                        I've been to a fair share of Chinese restaurants that were filled with Chinese people and had lousy food. Same goes for Indian food. Same goes for just about any other type of food. Just because the Cheesecake Factory and Jerry's Deli are crowded with white folk doesn't mean that it's good white-folk food. Bad taste knows no ethnic boundaries, and you can't always trust the flock. That's why I read the posts here.

                        1. re: Curt


                          I agree with most of what you're saying. The majority of the food stands at Wat L.A. were not good, but a few of them were. Unfortunately, even some of the good ones wouldn't be there when I went back next week. You're also right about Thai Nakorn, even though many Thais eat there they also have a large Vietnamese clientele (hence the menus having Vietnamese translations). You're also right that while they did have a few a good dishes many of them were a real disappointment. However, I still think that both of those places are better than Renu Nakorn. Again, that's just my opinion. I could never find a Thai restaurant in the L.A. area which was just good all around (meaning all dishes were authentic, and the menu was relegated just to the dishes which they prepared well). And you raised an interesting point about the Chinese food, why are there so many "Thai-Chinese" restaurants in the L.A. area? I have not seen this anywhere else in U.S. When I first came to L.A. I was really shocked to see this.

                          Chris, I have never been to Thailand, so tell me, is the Thai food there a lot better than the Thai food in the L.A. area? I really haven't been impressed with the Thai restaurants in the L.A. area (I still think that the best Thai food that I've had by far is in the Washington D.C. area).

                          1. re: Harsha

                            Thai food, in Bangkok, is truly an adventure.
                            Although there are "restaurants", and the western chains are everywhere, the hawkers and foodcourts are the rule.

                            Downtown, the streets are lined with vendors.
                            No need to ask "what's good?". They're cooking what they cook best.
                            One of my favorite foodcourts is at MBK Center.
                            There it's like Wat Thai with 50+ stalls!

                            On the streets, you'll see tricycles, motorized and pedal, with everything from satay to noodle soup.

                            "Seafood" reastaurants are the everywhere.
                            We discovered Lek Seafood, a very informal, mostly outdoor experience.
                            Our party spent about three hours, munching everything; A couple soups, whole fried baby crabs, whole steamed fish, curried crab, squid, octopus, prawns,..etc.
                            And, when the check came in, each sheare was 140 baht.(about $3.50!)

                            Here, most Asians cater to "American" tastes.
                            At Palms, I was the only non-Thai in a party of 6.
                            I never said a word. My Thai friends ordered everything.
                            Twice, the waitress came back to check if it needed to be "toned down" for me!

                            I need to try Renu Nakorn. I just haven't gotten to it.

                            I also need to try the "kao mun kai" at Samanluang (That Hollywierd noodle place)
                            Chicken rice is my favorite hawker food.

                            Can't wait for February. Eight weeks ding on the best Thai food in the world!!!!

                            1. re: Curt

                              I'd like to throw in a few extra cents, comments, and questions. First, a question for Harsha: What places do you recommend in D.C.? I've tried a few places there and found them only average. I travel there occasionally, so I'd love to find a place that's better than what we have here.

                              I agree with Curt about U.S. Thai restaurants catering to American tastes, but I also think part of the problem may stem from availability and freshness of certain ingredients. It's difficult to accurately duplicate "indigenous" tastes when the proper ingredients may be difficult to come by.

                              I dine frequently at both Renu Nakorn and Thai Nakorn, and agree that both excel at some dishes and fail at others. I was disappointed by the koong char num plar (raw shrimp salad) that I had at Renu Nakorn tonight, but I'm blown away by the same dish at Thai Nakorn. I also prefer the Thai sausage and whole fried pomfret at Thai Nakorn.

                              However, I prefer the sua rong hai (bbq beef) at Renu Nakorn - the sauce is much more flavorful and complex and the cut of beef is of higher quality. I also like many of the dishes at Renu Nakorn that are not on the menu at Thai Nakorn, such as kang hoh, larb koong, and the salmon panang (even though the latter isn't very "authentic").

                              Having suffered inferior Thai food in the Bay area and New York, I feel very privileged to have to great options nearby. I've had great joy taking visitors from these places who thought they knew great Thai food to Thai Nakorn and Renu Nakorn and watching them experience Thai food at a whole different level. Maybe it's not as good or cheap as Thailand, but I think these are pretty good alternatives, especially compared to other parts of the U.S. I'm really curious about these D.C. places though, as I have had good (but not great) Thai food there (though when I lived in New York D.C. was a welcome alternative to Manhattan "favorites" like Jai Ya and Sweet Basil).

                              One note of interest: in the 13 years that I've been going to both places (I "discovered" them via an L.A. Times article in 1989 - I believe it was written by Jonathan Gold), Thai Nakorn has maintained the same ownership. Renu Nakorn has gone through many changes of ownership (as I discovered tonight): Luxkana Seewarom (late '80s/early '90s), some unknown owner (early '90s), Bill and Saipin Chutima (mid- to late-'90s), and the current owners. With the exception of the unknown early '90s owners, the food has always been consistently good. The biggest change between the late '80s and now is that the menu has been expanded considerably, perhaps also increasing the chances for dishes that may miss the mark.

                              1. re: Chris G.

                                In Southern California, Asian ingredients are plentiful.
                                I can't think of anything that can't be found.
                                Might explain the better restaurants.

                                Another "authentic" Thai eatery is Hollywood Ganda, right behind Palms.
                                The hot table, food and smell reminds me of the food court at Siam Center, Bangkok.
                                This kind of food is everywhere in Bangkok.

                                1. re: Chris G.

                                  Try these:

                                  Rabieng: Falls Church, VA

                                  Duangrat's: Falls Church, VA

                                  Crystal Thai: Arlington, VA

                                  Rincome: Arlington, VA

                                  Thai Kingdom: Washington D.C.

                                  Tara Thai: Vienna and Falls Church branches

                                  I haven't been to Thai Kingdom and Rincome in a while, but when I went there a couple years ago I thought it was excellent. I haven't been to Duangrat's in a while too since I just go to their sister restaurant, Rabieng, which is right around the corner. Rabieng is cheaper and their menu is simpler. It is 100% authentic and everything is prepared well. To be honest though, their quality has slipped in the past 1 1/2 years. Back in early 2001, everything was prepared fresh, and thus delicious. Now it seems that hey have gotten a little cheap and lazy so they aren't preparing everything fresh like they did before. Even when their dishes aren't fresh they are still very good, just not great as they can be. If you go there, try the Tom Kha Khai, any of the curries, or Esarn dishes and compare them to what you find in L.A. Ask them if they can prepare the food fresh for you and that you don't mind the wait. I also highly recommend Crystal Thai.

                                  1. re: Harsha

                                    Thanks! Great tips. All the Thai places in D.C. I've eaten at previously were in Dupont Circle or Adams Morgan, but it looks like next time a road trip to Falls Church and Arlington is in order. What a long way that area has come - I lived in Fairfax until 1972 and there was nothing close to a Thai restaurant in the area back then.

                                    1. re: Chris G.

                                      Yup, most of the growth in ethnic dining in the D.C. area has ocurred in the last ten years or so.

                2. re: Harsha

                  In fact the aforementioned bus stops at the Norwalk Green Line station as well, also known as the I-105/I-605 station, the easternmost terminus of the subway system. But the station is not near Renu Nakorn, so you need to intercept the bus to get there. Also, going by subway has the drawback that the Green Line runs along the freeway, meaning that when you get on the train, e.g., at the place where the Blue and Green Lines intersect, you'll probably be waiting for a while on a subway platform that's about six inches from intensely noisy freeway traffic.

                  In any case, I've attached a map of Renu Nakorn and its neighborhood to show how things are arranged.