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Best Upscale Thai Food in L.A.?

  • d

Please weigh in on your favorites in terms of authenticity, freshness, cleanliness and ambiance. We used to like Siamese Garden in Venice, and Chao Praya in Hollywood. We quit eating Thai for a while, but would like to find an excellent one. Thanks.

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  1. I really like Tuk Tuk Thai on Pico Blvd, I posted about this awhile back so I'm sure if you do a search, you will be able to find it. They have good thai bbq chicken, good steak (medium rare slices) and a nice large thai iced tea. It's a nice atmosphere as well.

    10 Replies
    1. re: Alice

      The first place I ate Thai food was at a small storefront in Hollywood in the mid 70's. It was called Chan Dara and had one small room with just a few tables. It subsequently took over the store next door and more than doubled it's size. It has also grown to three locations Hollywood/Larchmont/Pico Blvd. w/LA). I don't know if the Hollywood location still exists, I haven't been there for a lot of years.

      I went often but was really never crazy about the prices or portions of the Pico Blvd. (nr. Bundy)location. However, lately they have improved the portion size and I think they must have a new chef because I've really enjoyed the last several dishes I've had there. The prices are still the same (upscale, like you asked for), but with the improvement in quality and quantity, I don't hesitate to go there.

      As a side note, the beauty of the Thai wait staff is a pleasure to behold!

      1. re: LesThePress

        The Hollywood store still exists on Cahuenga but it's split from the others and called Chan Darae now. Same menu as I recall.

        1. re: LesThePress

          I completely agree about the food, but find that the waitresses dress like prostitutes. Rather distracting.

          1. re: mayo
            Rich Gould-Saltman

            and the problem with this distraction is...?


            1. re: Rich Gould-Saltman

              Guess that depends on whether one is a man or a woman. As a woman, it would be annoying.

              1. re: di4cats

                Hmm. Have been to the old Chan Darette and the Chan Dara West L.A. locations - did not find the wait staff dressing 'like prostitutes' per se, but there is some kind of spare/sexy dress code. Never saw anyone acting/looking 'inappropriately' - nobody was 'a tart' so to speak. Some of the wait staff is beautiful but not in a way that made me feel uncomfortable at all as a female diner. (That said, I grew up in South Florida where spare clothing is somewhat more accepted than elsewhere - it doesn't phase me.) I do recall on one occasion making a mental note about style tips - kind of promised myself I'd keep my hair dark and on the long side. And maybe exercise a tad more.

        2. re: Alice

          I second the Tuk Tuk recommendation. It's not what you'd call a Campanille or Patina-type environment, but it's vastly superior to most Thai places. I was at Thai Dishes on Wilshire in Santa Monica and was pretty disappointed. Lousy pad thai.

          We went to Tuk Tuk (on Pico, just west of Robertson)for the bf's birthday last night, and wished we could eat more. I wish I could remember the names of what we had, but suffice it to say: great noodles, excellent stir-fries, tasty appetizers. Dinner for two, including two appetizers, one order of noodles, one stir fry with white rice for two, and a large beer to share came to $39 before tip.

          1. re: LAmonkeygirl

            Where on Pico is Tuk Tuk? Thanks for the help.

            1. re: LAmonkeygirl

              That is so odd. I live right near tuk tuk and have gone a couple of time. I have found the food to be bland. The reason to get thai food is for the spice. Tuk tuk just doesn't cut it.

          2. I would throw into the mix Saladang (363 S. Fair Oaks Blvd. Pasadena, CA 91105-2524 Phone: 626/793-8123) and Saladang Song (383 S. Fair Oaks Ave., Pasadena 626-793-5200) in Pasadena, which serve quite good and interesting thai food in an upscale-ish setting. I especially like the patio at Saladang Song -- architectually stunning.

            1. In my opinion, there's lots of excellent Thai, but not upscale. I disagree with many, Saladang Song in Pasadena is awful. You might try Cafe Talesai on Olympic near Doheny in a mini-mall. Nice atmosphere, lots of interesting choices (duck, soft shell crab, filet mignon). They make my favorite Tom khar gai (coconut/chicken soup)

              3 Replies
              1. re: Sandra W.

                You disagree with me, too. I've never had a bad meal at Saladang Song, and the gorgeous patio makes it a perfect date place, especially as the weather gets warmer.

                1. re: Charles

                  Ate there very recently with my Thai girlfriend and found it way over priced and way to Americanized. I guess if you dont know Thai food its ok. But my gf returned the papaya salad and the sticky rice was heated up form at least the day before. No excuse for that lapse!!! It has a romantic setting which is all it has going for it.

                  1. re: grego

                    I agree with you grego. I took my parents to Saladang Song and yes it is indeed very nice with a more upscale setting.. but the food is way overpriced. I rahter just go next door to Saladang ..a third of the price and better food selection.

              2. On the Westside, try Chao Krung on Fairfax south of Beverly. Nicely prepared food (particularly excellent beef dishes) graciously served in a surprisingly sedate setting.

                The Grubs also HIGHLY recommend Saladang Song: consistently delicious "street" food in a terrific space. In fact, Song is on the Grubber's Desert Island list -- one of the ten LA restaurants I'd want to be stranded on a desert island with. Song's only downside is a tendency to be very loud when busy. Not Natalee Thai loud, but uncomfortably loud nevertheless.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Mr Grub

                  Thanks, Grubs. Since we both like Buca, perhaps we'll share similar Thai tastes as well. Saladang is a bit far for us since we live in S. Bay, but don't mind Hollywood or WLA. Next time you go to Buca, try the linguine cartoccio. It's da bomb! I feel like used car salesman for BdB!

                  1. re: di4cats

                    I live in South Bay too. There is a place on Pier in Hermosa Beach that is good for take-out.
                    for upscale-I recommend Typhoon in Santa Monica (The airport runway actually)-not 100% Thai, more Indonesian I suppose. Excellent Pad Thai, Clams with Curry and Mint, some great chinese dishes and dim sum, even a few Vietnamese dishes -the rice paper rolls are great. Good atmosphere, full bar, they even have live Jazz on weekends.

                  2. re: Mr Grub

                    I agree Saladang Song is where I take guests. Not only is the food imcomparable but the atmosphere is otherwordly. It won the James Beard award for restaurant design. The original Saladang is across from it:same food but missing the ambiance!!! The green curry and sticky rice with mango are my favorites!! The maitre'd can be a pain!

                  3. In the "I like it, but don't love it" category -- and meeting my idea of upscale for Thai -- would be Bangkok West in Santa Monica. The food is good without being terribly inventive (or without using stunningly fresh ingredients) but the space and the service are both extremely pleasant. It is a pretty place for a dinner.

                    606 Santa Monica Blvd

                    1. My vote is Jitlada: Not quite upscale, but it has tablecloths, which is more than can be said for almost every other Thai restaurant (bless their souls) in Thai Town. The food is quite good, and the ambiance acceptable. Good date restaurant.

                      1. I like Anajak Thai in Sherman Oaks, on Ventura about halfway between the 405 and Van Nuys Blvd. Good food, nice atmosphere, friendly service.

                        1. My favorite place for Thai is Simply Thai in Los Feliz, on Hillhurst. It has beautiful decor and a slightly funky style, nothing cheesy about it, and the food is interesting. There is a limited menu, but I find the selections a little more varied than the usual Thai fusion stuff you find in Thai Town. The prices are reasonable for the setting.

                          I used to love Chao Krung, but I think it's gotten much much worse over the past 2 years.

                          1. Is the Thai place just east of Doheny on Sunset still there? It's upscale and the food was good as I recall. For a cool ambience there is Thai House on Pico. Kind of industrial and food is good.

                            1. I don't know if this is "upscale", and I'm sure that many will disagree, but I really like Natalee Thai on Venice and Clarendon (west of Robertson.) It's a little loud and the food servers are often confused but I think the food there is overall very good. Surprisingly, they have a decent sushi bar too.

                              3 Replies
                              1. re: chowmominLA

                                In the mid to late '80's I ate often at the old location on the S side of Venice Blvd. I recall that the Thai lady that owned it named it after her daughter and more importantly served some damn good food! Then she sold it to an older Chinese gentleman who spent most of his time guarding the cash register and the food went downhill. They eventually moved to a nicer space and opened up the more northerly store but I haven't been back.

                                1. re: chowmominLA

                                  I like Natalee, but for some reason I really hate the tiny ties that their servers wear!

                                  1. re: Evan G

                                    Natalee Thai is excellent, and pretty upscale as far as Thai restaurants go. The food is slightly Americanized, but is consistent and fresh. I've never had a bad meal there (or to go) and been going there for 5+ years.

                                2. I would like to add Naraya on Robertson to these upscale Thai recommendations. See my recent review for details.

                                  1. My two cents. Gindi Thai & Sushi on Riverside Dr. in Toluca lake is very good. I took lots of my friends their and they all loved it. The food and service is top quality. The good thing is their price is not ridiculously high. The price range is comparable to those of Salangdang in Pasadena.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. re: manny

                                      I second Gindi Thai. Nice decor and the food is always delicious. Service is excellent, as well.

                                    2. Ayara Thai in Westchester. Great fresh food, nice atmosphere, lots of elephants....

                                      1. I like Natalee Thai and also this place in Brentwood:


                                        1 Reply
                                        1. re: Bria Silbert

                                          Saladang Song (Pasadena) and Natalee Thai (Venice Blvd)

                                          I went to Saladang Song this past weekend and LOVED it. Didn't sit at the patio because it was too cold, but the inside was nice and quiet, compared to Saladang which was PACKED. My friend had a dish called 'Seafood Panang' which was $20, 1x more expensive than any of our dishes, but it was AMAZING. must try. I got pad kee mao ped (duck spicy noodles) and that was fabulous. So was the green curry with tofu my friend ordered.

                                          I live near Natalee Thai around Culver City and that place has good decor and good food. You leave happy and won't spend too much. Like it.

                                        2. Try Telesai on Sunset and Doheny. it's pretty upscale. i used to work there for a bit and i'd see a lot of celebrities going there. The food is great. i love the rib eye with the basil spicy sauce on top. the price is up there as well as the quality. i highly recommend it if you have the money.

                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: chowfun784

                                            How I miss eating at the long gone Siamese Princess on 3rd in WeHo. That was my go to place for upscale Thai.

                                            Although I haven't tried it recently, Talesai on Sunset was pretty good. Jitlada in Thai Town cannot be considered upscale, but the food is quite good.

                                            I guess Saladang would be my recommendation nowadays for what you are looking for. Happy eating!

                                          2. When I worked in the area, I used to love ChanDarette - especially the noodle soups, they are especially wonderful if you have a cold! I remember having enjoyed everything I ever ordered there. I still go to the Larchmont outpost of Chan Dara and have had some truly good stuff there - also at the Pico location.

                                            One place that I really like these days is Kinaree on LaBrea & Fountain. The honey pork is to die for as is the thai salad. Yum. As a matter of fact, I haven't had delivery from there lately, I think I'm going to have to remedy that real soon.

                                            1. Talesai on Olympic is a seriously poor Thai restaurant. I ate there tonight. There was so much sugar in the Pad Thai they should have called it Candy Noodles. The waitress explained that they no longer make their own sauces, they "import them from Thailand"--in other words, in a jar. Cross it off your list. Tuk Tuk on Pico is good, for the west side. Jitlada in Hollywood is the place, or Thai Patio, in the mall where The Palm used to be--tastes like Bangkok, plus next door is Thai Desserts, with fantastic taro pancakes and amazing sweet rice dishes. The best!

                                              2 Replies
                                              1. re: Steto

                                                CHADAKA THAI
                                                in Burbank on San Ferdnando, between Magnolia and Palm...great space, great cocktails and wine and beer list...great happy hour. If you prefer spicey, just tell them-they'll do it! The ingredients are super-fresh, the meats are quality...I've never had a bad meal there. Oh, the lunch specials ROCK!
                                                TUK TUK
                                                on Pico...same family as Chadaka and Rhambutan in Silverlake. (Rhambutan has ther worst service, but a great room and still some good food...only go there when we son't want to wait for a table at Gingergrass.)
                                                Is still like SIMPLY TAI on Hillhurst..their green curry dishes are great and I love their tea selection...I prefer their lunch prices and portions...nice service too.

                                                1. re: Steto

                                                  I just had dinner last night at the Thai Patio restaurant on Hollywood (next to the Thai sweet shop - how good were those pastries???) I really enjoyed the glass noodles with extra large shrimp, and the patio noodles. But it was my first visit to Thai town, so have to try some other places for comparison.

                                                2. Off topic, but how do old threads like this constantly keep popping up?

                                                  On the topic and IMHO, Saladang Song has beautiful ambiance, and decent food given the price. They use frozen seafood, but I do love their sticky rice desserts.

                                                  Chan Dara on Larchmont has mediocre food, but beautiful waitresses. Great if you are a heterosexual guy who wants to feel like he's being paid attention to, but can be annoying for their female dining companions when the waitresses decide to sit right down next to you.

                                                  1 Reply
                                                  1. re: stochasticgirl

                                                    Q. >>Off topic, but how do old threads like this constantly keep popping up?<<

                                                    A. Google

                                                    Chan Dara (at least the one near us on Pico Blvd. in West LA) has improved their food. Still too much on the gringo side, but better than it was. Don't think they could improve upon their waitress attractiveness scale.