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Jun 1, 2008 11:48 AM

Good Thai Markets in Thai Town?

I'm looking for a good Thai market to get basic thai ingredients like kaffir lime leaves, curry pastes, chilis, etc. Did not have any luck at 99 ranch looking for kaffir lime leaves. Also wanted to go ahead and eat there.. any good recs? Looking for a decently priced thai place with good homestyle thai thai boat noodles.. and a good Thai Market.. please also include the location such as cross streets.. thank you!

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  1. I've seen the kaffir lime leaves in the past at 99 Ranch. They usually displayed those with fresh herbs packaged in the foam trays in the refrigerated rack in the produce section. They almost always have kaffir lime trees for sale in the front end of the markets by the checkout as well. But price around - you can also find the trees at well-stocked nurseries like Marina Garden Center. If you are planning to use the leaves on a regular basis, I'd suggest buying a 2- to 5-gallon tree and transplanting it either in your garden or in a pot. This will do fine in a pot as the tree itself can be kept relatively small (3-4 ft tall) and is very hearty as long as it gets its share of basic care: some water, infrequent feedings, sun and air circulation.

    1. Silom Market at 5321 Hollywood Blvd. works well for me. They have an abundance of Thai specific herbs and vegetables that beats 99 Ranch in quality and range (if you're only operating in the Thai idiom of course!). For instance, Silom will also have the wild limes themselves in addition to the leaves. Also, if you frequent the Santa Monica Farmers' Market, they have a vendor at the westernmost edge that sells wild lime leaves, wild limes, thai chilies, curry leaves, sapotes, and cherimoyas which are all pretty hard to find.

      I also have trouble finding wild lime leaves at the 99 Ranch I frequent (Van Nuys) and I think the galangal they sell there is truly second rate. Again, this is in reference to the Van Nuys store which I believe is a pretty weak representation of the 99 Ranch chain.

      For Thai Boat Noodles I think Yai and Sapp do a great job although I haven't really explored that dish too much. I've been slowly working my way through Jitlada's Southern Thai menu which is outstanding and before that I was pretty smitten with Ruen Pair.

      Bulavinaka -- I've been passively looking around for a wild lime tree. Thanks for the tip.

      6 Replies
      1. re: Frommtron

        I know the 99 Ranch in San Gabriel carries the kaffir lime trees in (i think) 5-gallon pots but they're usually about $35-$40 - I could be wrong about the price being high though... We picked up a 5-gallon at Marina Garden Center about seven or more years ago for around $20, so adjusting for inflation - maybe $35 ain't bad. Look up your local respectable garden center. If they have a good citrus tree selection, they should have it. If not, it should be no problem ordering one. They will fruit in abundance regularly if planted in an ideal spot. And again, they are very hearty.

        1. re: Frommtron

          i shop at silom too - lots of great fresh herbs, tons of jarred condiments and sauces, and a good selection of frozen items like mochi, red bean and ube ice creams, chinese and filipino sausage, etc. they also carry these ethereal salty-sweet taro chips in the aisle near the checkout. sometimes there are prepared foods but they are not refrigerated. i also recommend ruen pair in the minimall next door - the morning glory and pineapple fried rice are delicious and you can pick up some beer at silom to take in, then grab thai sweets at the place across the parking lot.

          1. re: tastycakes

            Visited Ruen Pair for the first time last weekend and it was great. Best Som Tam ive had outside of thailand (now if only i hadnt forgotten those leftovers in my cousin's fridge!)

            1. re: tastycakes

              Went to Silom as this was the one that had been the most recommended. I found the market to be very old and not very clean. A lot of the product looked wilted and un fresh. All the thai eggplant that were available were badly bruised and rotting. Very limited in the amount of produce. Luckily, I was able to find the things I needed there. Great finds... fresh mangosteen. They were about 9.99 lb. tasted amazing. The shrimp paste I got had mold inside when I opened the lid. They customer service was great.. very friendly and helpful. Any other suggestions that might be cleaner and more up to date ?

              1. re: karynx78

                While I don't shop there often, I have never had any issues with the produce at Silom. As you've indicated, when last we went, the mangosteens were quite nice.

                1. re: karynx78

                  I'll second estone888's rec of Bangkok Market. Great store. It has the some added prestige that comes along with it's age (est. 1971) and it's heritage (Jet Tila's parents opened the store).

                  I still shop Silom because . . . . well I just do, but I've noticed some products with a little patina on them. I stay way clear of those precisely because I imagined that I'd find mold or worse in those jars. As to the produce, it's tough. A lot of those greens are very delicate. To wit, I had 3 gorgeous bunches of ong choy absolutely die on me as I made the 15 minute walk home from the Farmers' Market. I've had good luck at Silom though.

                  Any news on the boat noodle search?

            2. Generally I find the produce at Bangkok Market on Melrose superior to Silom Market (in Silom Plaza) on Hollywood Blvd. Silom has good other stuff.

              My favorite Thai market in town though is LAX-C at 1100 North Main St. just northeast of Chinatown. It's huge, sort of the Thai Costco. Great fresh produce, but only in big quantities. An amazing place to just go and wander around. I take out of town visitors there. It is also where a lot of the local Thai restaurants do their shopping.

              1. On Hollywood Blvd. in Thai Town, there are a few good markets. My favorite is a little place in a strip mall between western and normandie called Bangluck. It is basically across from Jumbo's Clown Room. Good stuff and cheaper than the other markets in the area. There is also a big market a couple of blocks away. I forget the name, but it is purple, and you really can't miss it. A little more variety and volume.

                2 Replies
                1. re: gtflier

                  A little further east, try the Echo Park place, north side of the street on Sunset, east of Echo Park Bl., called something like "A Asian Grocery Warehouse"; while you always should look at the produce, they do a lot of volume, so stuff turns over pretty fast.

                  1. re: gtflier

                    Since they are so close to each other, and since I have already come half way across town to get there, I usually hit both Bangluck and Silom markets when I am in Thai Town. Silom has a bigger selection of everything, but Bangluck has better produce sometimes and different brands of some items. If you are in NoHo, the Bangluck Market on Sherman Way is bigger than the Thai Town branch and is a great stop after a mean at Krua Thai!

                    I also make a point to shop at Bhan Kanom Thai - I get fresh khanom guay chai (chinese chive dumplings) on the weekends, plus green mangoes with a great dipping sauce, plus sticky rice with coconut milk. Bhan Kanom Thai also has many packaged snacks and sweets and some refrigerated items. Definitely a snacks and sweets focus, but it makes a great complement to the other two markets.

                    And, if bulk purchase is something you can do, then I agree that LAX-C downtown is a great place. Last time I went, I think I bought a package of frozen fishballs that lasted me a month... Definitely on the Costco model.