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best thai on the west side?

ruen pair and jitlada are decent depending on what you order...what are the best options on the west side? i walked out of natalee thai after looking at their menu and prices. i'm in culver city but can travel...

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  1. I have not sampled nearly as many of the westside Thai places as I have the Chinese. But for me there is a clear winner -- Thai Boom. It is also very convenient for you, on the north side of Venice Blvd. between Overland and Sepulveda at Midvale, with some parking in front and a few spaces in the shared lot in back. Excellent prices -- pretty much everything is between about $6.95 and $10. I like spicy, and the first time there I asked the server about what was good and spicy from the lunch specials. I ordered the yellow curry with chicken, and there were red oily spots swimming on top from chili oil -- fantastic. For dinner, I've really enjoyed the tart, crisp green mango salad, and the shrimp with red butter dry curry. They do a great job with eggplant, but I haven't enjoyed the beef, which has been a bit overcooked and tough. Presentations are very nice for the price point. There is an entrance from the rear, so you pass through the kitchen, so I've seen all the stainless steel and how they keep things clean. Excellent, friendly service. My biggest disappointment there is that they don't have a crispy mee krob on their menu, which is one of my favorite dishes. (I go to Thai House in Westwood Village or get it delivered from Siam Chan on Santa Monica Blvd. at Colby.) There also was some buzz for Emporium Thai on Westwood Blvd. a few months back on this board. But for consistency, spicing to order, value, and all around quality, Thai Boom rules on the westside.

    1. You can also give Ayara Thai in Westchester a try. Probably the most stylized of Thai joints that I've seen in the general Westside, it's in a sleepy older often-overlooked part of Westchester. If you know where Staples on Sepulveda (south of Manchester) is, Ayara is across the large-ish parking lot to the east on 87th. I like Boom as well but had issues with consistency a while back so I gave Ayara a try and have been happy there. The dining room is quite nice - nice enough that you can actually consider taking a date there.

      1. it depends on the dishes you order.
        for salads and prik king and prik pao i like thai boom.
        for coconut milk curries and soups i like ayara.

        6 Replies
        1. re: westsidegal

          re: taking a date to either place:

          thai boom is a neighborhood dive that often has parking problems.

          ayara thai, pretty restaurant, uncomfortable seats and crowded tables. if you are trying to impress a date, you should know that many of the entrees are in the $8 range, not too impressive. . . . .

          1. re: westsidegal

            westsidegal, i was getting ready to flame you with labels like "golddigger" and criticize you for noting the price of the dishes rather than the quality of the chow. then i thought about where i've taken first or early dates -- and the list is heavily skewed to places like Spago, Chinois, and if i'm demonstrating how cool and down-to-earth i can be Nook. yes, Thai Boom is for meeting with friends or a tasty meal when i'm already very comfortable with someone. yeah, i'd be reluctant to use a coupon or a gift certificate in view of an early date too.

            wow, things have changed. i remember being in school and asking a girl i'd had a crush on for awhile, and developed a friendship with, out to celebrate an occasion. she accepted, but later called to say she couldn't make it -- a job she'd expected hadn't come through, and she couldn't pay her half! took some reassurance from me that we'd known eachother awhile and the night was on me before she'd agree...

            1. re: nosh

              yes it has changed.
              my ideal first date restaurant would be one where the seating is comfortable enough and the meal wouldn't be rushed so that you could actually spend some time getting to know your date.
              for the most part, this means restaurants that have a separate bar area so that the people waiting for a table aren't milling around your table staring at you trying to get you to leave, they are, instead, at the bar area, with their own space.

              1. re: westsidegal

                What you're saying is that you wouldn't take a First Date to the Apple Pan?

                Apple Pan
                10801 W Pico Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90064

            2. re: bulavinaka

              imho, there is a huge difference between what would work as a first date experience and what would work as a third or fourth date experience.

              imho spago would be too far over the top for a normal first date,
              ayara, imho, not comfortable/luxurious/relaxed enough unless it was connected to some other activity before or after--this would especially be true if we wound up on the 'balcony' level near the restrooms.

              i end up at ayara with a group of friends for dinner almost weekly. the dinner rarely takes more than an hour and a half, even ordering several courses. id feel uncomfortable taking up their table for any length of time after the food was gone.

              also, if you are the kind of guy that set up a children's health clinic in rural nicaragua or set up a water treatment system in new guinea, so your 'good guy' creds are obviously terrific, the expectations about what would be done on a date would be different.

              maybe i'll just admit it--it appears that my dates have spoiled me. gee whiz,
              i guess i'm just lucky.

              1. re: westsidegal

                Looks like if it weren't for me, the mods would be out of a job... from their actions, it seems that as respectable folks that we are, I guess we can agree to disagree. You were in Nicaragua doing good, I shouldn't have to mention this but since we're showing merit badges, I was in Belize. You were in New Guinea, I was in Fiji and the Solomons. You're good, and I like to think I try to be good. I was humbled by my experiences, and I hope you were too. And this is why in my eyes, money has no bearing, no threshold to achieve. Personally, the amount of money spent on any date never was a benchmark for me. And if times have changed that much to where it now is perfunctory, then I'm that much more happy that I'm out of the singles scene... :)

          2. Naraya Thai, Robertson and Pico. Tuk Tuk on Pico is also good. In WeHo:


            3 Replies
            1. re: Adsvino

              Went to Nakarra this Friday and LOVED the soft shell crab curry. But the thing about this place is that it's more fusion... for my true confort thai, I'll make the extra effort to go to Thai Town a little further up the ways... or just stay home and order from Araya...


              1. re: Dommy

                Wife and I made the long (for us) trek to Hollywood and try the legendary Sapp Coffee Shop. It was truly wonderful. It was too hot to try their famous boat noodles, but we did enjoy their version of drunken noodles and shrimp pad thai.

                Maybe it was the weather, and we aren't Thai experts by any stretch, but we decided that Ayara Thai was plenty good for whenever we had Thai cravings. Thank God Ayara is an easy drive for us.

                1. re: Ogawak

                  I tried Sapp Coffee Shop a couple days ago. The boat noodles were good and cheap, but overall the place was a bit too dirty/shabby for my tastes. I like dives, but I notice every time a table was wiped down, it was just wiped onto the floor and to who ever was sitting next to it, which happened to be me. didn't like having the adjacent tables scraps whisked onto my lap at all. Chairs felt ready to collapse. just a little too run down to enjoy

            2. Ruen Pair was my go to when I lived in Hollywood. Now that I've moved to the westside, I've been trying to hunt down a decent Thai place as well. I have tried Latitude Thai and Poom Thai on Lincoln and they were decent, but not great. To be fair to Poom Thai, I went with a buddy of mine who is a vegetarian and I didn't get to try any dishes w/ meat (and I saw some Pad Se ew w/ chicken come out of the kitchen that looked pretty tasty).

              I also remember Emerald Thai on Venice being decent, but I was last there a few years ago (and before I cut my teeth in Thai Town). Please post if you find anything that stacks up favorable to the places you mentioned in TT.

              7 Replies
              1. re: Grillz

                I love Poom Thai....it's a great place to go with a group and the wife/husband team will take very good care of you. Bring your own Thai beer....Chang preferably if you can find it.

                1. re: Grillz

                  I found the food at Poom Thai only average and not comparable to TT. I prefer the place further down on Lincoln on the west side of the street. They're much friendlier too. I had a bad experience with the staff at Poom.

                  1. re: epop

                    Poom Thai's on the west side of the street and since you've not mentioned whether the place you like is north or south on Lincoln....I'm not sure what you're referring to.
                    I'm not really blown away by any of the Thai food on the west side....so I pick Poom Thai because I like the owners and a group of us meets there frequently.
                    Going to Thailand and taking a local cooking class, coming home and searching for the ingredients to complete the dishes you've learned about, is really the only way I've found to have the Thai food I love.

                    1. re: latindancer

                      I have found a few magical Thai places outside of Thailand but it is very limited... None have been in California. I've yet to try Krua but have to be convinced to make the drive...

                      The one on Lincoln is south of Poom about a mile, west side of street, a big place.
                      It is healthy Thai food but not Great either.

                  2. re: Grillz

                    Poom Thai has gone downhill. Or perhaps my tastebuds have gone uphill. Either way, it used to be excellent, now it's merely above average.

                    I love Sam and Rose. Hint: Sam cooks on Sunday and Monday evenings. So go then! And don't order the freaking pad thai! (Or if you do, please don't come here and complain about it. That's like judging a Chinese restaurant on its eggrolls.) Try the pra ram tofu (tofu over spinach in peanut sauce), or the eggplant stir-fried with basil, or whatever's written on the chalkboard.

                    And no, it's not comparable to Thai Town. If you want something comparable to Thai Town...then go to Thai Town. :)

                    1. re: Bjartmarr

                      I've yet to try a place in Thai town that compares to the homey food in Thailand. Any recommenations?

                      1. re: Bjartmarr

                        I think judging a Thai place on its basic dishes makes sense because if a restaurant is truly good, it will have enough pride to make even the "throwaway" dishes good.

                    2. Tried Thai Boom, an assortment of items from the menu were ordered. I don't think it compares to Thai town. I don't know if it was an off night but I left a bit disappointed, as I was really hoping to find authentic Thai on this side of town. The mango salad was excellent, as was the eggplant. But other items, such as the Tom Yum, were average. Darn.

                      10 Replies
                      1. re: epop

                        I agree 100%.
                        I don't know why some on this board have annointed this run-of-the-mill-Westside place the equal of Thai Town without the mileage. There are probably 1000 places exactly like it between it and TT. Dime-a-dozen!

                        1. re: Ciao Bob

                          We are in full agreement and are left empty handed... Have a place to recommend someone with seemingly similar tastes?

                          1. re: epop

                            Now wait a minute -- two of the dishes that epop tried at Thai Boom were rated excellent, the mango salad and the eggplant. These were recommended by me and others in earlier posts and previous threads. "Other items...were average." No mention of the shrimp with dry curry butter recommended as a house specialty, or the rice noodles, or the chicken with yellow curry ordered spicy. It is the very rare small ethnic restaurant where every dish will be excellent and appeal to every taste. I have warned people off of the beef dishes at Thai Boom. But if two dishes were excellent, at prices of $6.95 to $10 per dish in a clean place with attentive service in your area, you are way ahead of the game.

                            1. re: nosh

                              To clarify: yes, that's why I ordered those dishes and they were well executed.Thank you.
                              But I like to order a dozen items when I go to a thai place, like I do in Thailand. My acid test for a Thai place is the Tom Yum soup, which really wasn't very good at Boom; the broth was watery and didn't have the taste of galanga and kafir. The recommendations the waiter made were all rather lousy, actually. I wish that we'd ordered the rice noodles. Ahead of the game, perhaps, but I am looking for more than that.

                            2. re: epop

                              I wish I could help epop but I haven't found anything on the Westside as good as Thaitown or North Hollywood.

                              1. re: Ciao Bob

                                my problem: I've found better places in Thai Town than here too but nothing stellar. I've ended up skipping Thai places as a result, going for the amazing other Asian cuisines. But would love to find a Thai jewel...

                                1. re: epop

                                  Give Top Thai in Reseda a chance. Especially good if you like Northern Thai food as they have quite a few great Northern dishes at the back of the menu. I originally went after reading this review by Linda Burum in the LA Times back in 2006 and it still rings true today.


                            3. re: Ciao Bob

                              I personally never got that impression from the average posts about Thai Boom. I think a lot of people have mentioned this place as being one of the better Thai joints in the general Westside area, but most will caviat with some kind of mention that the best Thai is normally found further east. I think the raves about Thai Boom reflect the lack of really good Thai in the Westside - these raves in my mind are always tempered with the notion that they are not in the same hemisphere as Lotus of Siam.

                              1. re: bulavinaka

                                well put. Is there anything like Lotus in LA?

                                1. re: epop

                                  Maybe the most recent iteration of Renu Nakorn in Norwalk would work. I've never eaten there but I've rarely heard anything below great about this place (aside from their location), and they do northern dishes like Lotus of Siam in Vegas; in fact, the previous incarnation used to be owned by Saipin, the owner of Lotus. I can't verify this, but I've heard she has prepared meals for the King of Thailand. Let's say the rumor is false - who's going to argue that she isn't at least worthy of this honor?

                                  Here's well-respected poster Das Ubergeek's take on the place:


                          2. good grief at least no one suggested Natalie Thai. One of the most pretentious restaurant with food utterly blend to the taste.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Vince S

                              As much as I hate to say it, and although you're right about the restaurant itself, I'm not really sure Natalie Thai's food is any different than any other places on the westside...I actually like their sticky rice better than most I've had :).

                            2. Anyone ever eat at Pot & Pan on Santa Monica and 24th? I've only been once or twice several years ago and I don't really remember liking or disliking it. I think I do remember it being pretty cheap for lunch.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Juji

                                I work 1 block away which is as close as I care to get to Pot & Pan.

                                1. re: Ciao Bob

                                  Good to know, thanks! I work close by too, but will avoid it if it's that bad.

                              2. Quite frankly, if "ruen pair and jitlada are *decent* depending on what you order" (my emphasis), then you will not find anything even approaching acceptable on the westside. You're best off avoiding Thai than searching it out if you aren't strongly impressed by those two restaurants.

                                I'd love to be corrected on that notion but I don't think Thai Boom or Poom Thai are very good and they are arguably amongst the better spots on the westside.

                                They work for me but I just happen to think that Jitlada and Ruen Pair are exceptionally delicious and I haven't had anything less than a wonderful meal at either. If they have a hard time measuring up for you then your quest is hopeless.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: Frommtron

                                  Nice to see you back on the LA board... stick around for a while... :)

                                  1. re: Frommtron

                                    here are my last two trips to ruen pair and jitlada:

                                    ruen pair - red tofu curry, watered down--gave it 6 out of 10
                                    jitlada - pretty good papaya salad as usual. rice dish (forget the name) was good. bbq chicken appetizer was obviously cooked much earlier in the day..or yesterday? and reheated. dry through out, little taste.

                                    1. re: 1newyorkguy

                                      Fair enough. I've never gotten anything like that when I order from either of those two restaurants. Part of the problem I have with Jitlada is that their menu is *way* too big for everything to be fresh. Ie: How many people order the frog each night? Ergo, that frog is going to be pulled from the freezer and thrown into the wok. Vegetable dishes are much less variable, I think.

                                      Also for Jitlada, I wouldn't get anything that wasn't from the Southern Thai menu. Some may argue that there are good dishes throughout the menu but why bother when what they seem to do best is on the back page. And even then , I've had some dishes that failed me and I won't be getting them again.

                                      My point wasn't so much that I disagreed with you about the quality of the dishes at those places (I do, though), it was more that if you think those places aren't doing it for you then wait 'til you get a load of what the westside has to offer you.

                                      1. re: Frommtron

                                        natalee thai was pretty good when i had it, i think i liked the outside of the building more so

                                        1. re: Frommtron

                                          We had an *epic* meal at Jitlada last week when extended family was in town. I read some Eric M menu suggestions and insisted on ordering for everybody, which turned out to be exactly the right thing to do. (Nobody was allowed to get pad thai. ;) For eight people, we got:

                                          #34 catfish salad aka "catfish-flavor cotton candy" -- I thought it was okay, not great, but others loved it.
                                          Mango salad (which wasn't what I ordered, but turned out to be excellent anyway)
                                          #23 turmeric-flavored chicken soup -- although it was simple, everybody was impressed
                                          #1 fish and egg curry -- hands-down the most popular dish of the night
                                          #14 tea leaf curry w/ catfish -- I had to make sure everybody tried something "weird".
                                          #29 whole fried catfish -- sweet, delicate and delicious
                                          kao mok kai -- aka Thai biryani. Fabulous.

                                          This was the first time I've gone with a large group, and I was impressed at how much better it is when you can order half a dozen dishes, some rich and some simple, and switch back and forth between them. (It's also much better when somebody else is picking up the tab. ;)

                                          1. re: Bjartmarr

                                            That's more like the Jitlada I know! If you want something different, try anything with the sator beans. And I can't get enough of that shredded, deep fried catfish salad.

                                            And I know they advertise the hell out of those mussels which can be a turn off but . . . get the mussels! Ask for a bowl on the side so you can drink the broth like a soup. It's divine.

                                    2. I love Pam's Place on Venice Blvd. -- the service can be slow but the food is outstanding.

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: lynch bages

                                        I second Pam's Place. I had the spicy noodles (medium heat) last night and they were delicious. I am never disappointed when I order from Pam's Place. I only get take out or delivery, though, so I can't comment on actually dining at the restaurant.

                                        1. re: lynch bages

                                          Before I discovered Thai Town and other great Thai restaurants in Hollywood, Northridge, and Norwalk, I too used to frequent Pam's Place. Now, this IS the sort of the place where you should probably stick to traditional Thai restaurant fare (unlike many others). I liked their noodle stir fries and chicken curries (comfort food!). I also liked that they were open after 10 on weekdays. I agree that service is very slow, but that may be because, as the menu states, the food is "made with love." I always got a kick out of that... In any case, I am curious about Thai Boom, but still have many more new Thai restaurants on my list that I won't mind driving far for.

                                        2. No votes for Thai Dishes on Wilshire and 19th? For simple stir-frys and noodles, I think it's fantastic.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: daftpunkxl

                                            no positive votes from me, that is. I can't stand it.

                                          2. Try Mr. Noodle in Westwood (which is close to you) They have some great Thai Noodle dishes. I highly recommend the Pad Thai, Pad See Eew, and the rainbow noodle chicken dish!

                                            1. Melanee Thai on Pico Blvd near the Museum of Tolerance. They have some of the freshest and best cooked vegetables I've ever had at a Thai restaurant. If you're a vegetarian, this is the Thai place for you. It's very reasonably priced and they're very friendly. Also, their basil seafood dish is outstanding! It's a fantastic place!

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: bucktown

                                                Went to Melanee Thai for a late lunch today.

                                                The place is a real dive. Dirty, worn carpet, torn vinyl booths, chipped walls and dark, dark, dark (but not in a romantic way). But as a person who wandered solo through Cambodia in the early '90s, I can deal with non-luxe, especially if good grub is involved.

                                                Thai chicken noodle soup. Asked how it differed from the other soups on the menu and was told it was more "authentic." It was okay. A sort of spicy broth with the usual overcooked chunks of dried out chicken that one finds at the usual Westside Thai restaurant, some bean sprouts and a few flat noodles. Edible, but not great.

                                                Sticky rice. Under no circumstances should you order sticky rice at Melanee Thai. The texture and taste were awful. I suspect the rice was either previously frozen or refrigerated and then nuked in the microwave. Really bad.

                                                Chicken prik king. It was okay, although the green beans tasted frozen. I had asked for it spicy, but like the soup, it was only semi-spicy. Not completely inedible, but I wouldn't say it was good.

                                                Lunch for one, with tax, tip and a Diet Coke - $32. In the diviest restaurant that I have been to in L.A. With just passable food. Welcome to Westside Thai.

                                                P.S. I have tried and not been impressed by: Natalee, Talesai (Olympic), Thai Boom, Siam Chan, Chan Dara and Tuk-Tuk. Lotus of Siam in Vegas rocks.