LAX-C papaya salad FTW. What else is good there?
So after reading that list in Saveur, I tried the papaya salad at the little stand outside of LAX-C (aka Thai Costco, just outside of Chinatown near the metro station). The lady there lets you customize everything--number of chiles, amount of fish sauce, what have you--and even asks you to taste the sauce near the end to make sure the balance is to your liking. So good, especially after eating Trader Joe's Frozen Papaya Salad earlier this week, which is vegan (NO FISH SAUCE WTF?!?) and has some kind of weird chemical aftertaste.
I also had an empanada-ish thing that turned out to be filled with chicken and sweet bean paste--it confused my tastebuds for a second, but I think I liked it. And they also have satay and sausages and some kind grilled coconut cake that looked like Thai imagawayaki.
Finally, there's a steam table inside with curry lunch specials and some interesting-looking pre-packaged stuff. I'm thinking of going back to try that for lunch in the near future...has anyone reading this eaten there before? What's good?
There's mango sticky rice that I like. And, while not cooked, I like the Thai Eggplant salad, which I think is made with three different types of eggplants.
I'll have to try that Som Tam sometime. Thanks.
I've had a serious craving for good Som Tam lately, so I really need to try this place. Do you know what days/hours the food stand is open? I tried looking at the LAX-C website but it's just hilariously uninformative (seriously, if there's a Thai Samuel Beckett, I think he's doing web design these days...)
After trying out the satay guy a few weeks ago I decided to give the steam tray place inside a go (The SO can spend hours trolling the aisles there and I'm usually shopped out after 15 minutes). The way it's set up is that you can match 1-3 different dishes (mostly curries or spicy catfish steaks) on a plate with rice. Cost is between $5-8 depending on how much you order. Looks like they also do some kind of pork leg dish - but only on the weekends.
I tried the green fish balls and thai eggplant curry. The fishcakes were oddly shaped (not balls at all), making me think maybe they were homemade. Very flavorful, lots of galangal and lemongrass and full of thai pepper berries and a few other veggies. I also tried a pork and greens dish. No idea what it is - I've never had it in a thai place before. The woman behind the counter told me that I wouldn't like it because it was too bitter but I didn't find it bitter at all. It was very good - I guess the closest thing to it I've had before would be a pork rendang. I think the bitter line might have been an attempt to save her best dish for her regulars.
For the money (about $6.50 w tax) it was one of the better Thai meals I've had recently. I guess it makes sense - LAX-C is supported by Thai restauranteurs so presumably the bar is set pretty high. When you take into account the fact that this is well outside the usual Thai-epicenters of Hollywood and N. Hollywood it's a nice thing to have in the hood. It's also worth mentioning that there's a new coffee spot called Chimney in the same complex. Prices are slightly less sticker shocky than LA Mill/Intelligentsia and you get a free cup of made to order drip when you buy your beans. Went very well with the curry.
The woman making the Khanom Krok (coconut pancakes) seems to now be making them in the newly opened dessert store located next to LAX-C. Amazing when fresh off the griddle, not too sweet, topped with green onion or egg yolk. The woman in her 60's with a ton of makeup makes them best.
I drive out ever so often from the coast on Sunday mornings (no traffic) just to get the Thai Pancakes that they make. They are delicate and wonderful. You must eat them just as they come out of the cast iron pan so that they are still crisp on the outside and soft and warm on the inside. Yum, they are so delicious and very difficult to find in Los Angeles.. Also inside the huge market, at what you describe as the "steam table" which is over by where you buy fresh fish and meat, they have some very interesting curries and such , but I always get the fish type souffle that is prepared in a holder of banana leaves. I've made it myself, very labor intensive, and these are really quite good and not very expensive. You can usually find sticky rice and mango (if mango's are in season) if you like that. It's a great find at very affordable prices.