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Mar 1, 2012 04:41 PM

Thai in Orange County

Reading some of the recent Thai threads on places in LA/Hollywood area has made me really hungry for Thai nearer to home.

While I'm well acquainted with Thai Nakorn (been to the Garden Grove location a few times, though not to the Stanton location), I really don't know that I've seen or read a thorough run down for fantastic Thai in Orange county. Not that I don't see a lot... there are Thai places all over the place... I just don't know whether many of them are any good.

so... thoughts on great Thai in OC? 'm in Huntington Beach, so close to Little Saigon, etc, but really am curious anywhere in the county.

On a very related note, do any of the OC Thai places specialize in Isan-style cuisine?

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  1. Try Vientiane Thai & Laos on Westminster Blvd. in GG. I've been there three times, and so far, I've had at least one really good dish per meal. The tip from a friend who's a regular is that the Lao-sounding dishes are the way to go.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Professor Salt

      great time, thanks, Professor. Do you remember any of the good dishes you ordered when you went?

      1. re: adamclyde

        The Lao sausage appetizer. Not as sour / lemongrassy as the Isaan sausages I've had, but still really good.

        I really enjoyed the pan-fried glass noodle dish called Pad Voonsin. It's more like pancit in flavor profile and technique than any Thai dish I've had. But all the elements are really well done: the noodles have a lightly charred wok hey to them, as do the various meats you can put in it. It's a very simple dish, but all the basic techniques are done very well so I think it's terrific.

        I've liked most of the curries I've tried, although the proteins they came with have been iffy. For example, the crispy catfish dish has a great curry, but the fish pieces aren't filets, but rather skin-on, bone-in steak-cuts from small catfish. I don't mind whole fish cooked on the bone, but because these chunks were small and fried hard, it was unpleasant to eat around the bones and fins and whatnot.

      2. re: Professor Salt

        Their nam khao (crispy rice salad) is KILLER, as is their raw shrimp salad. Good crying tiger. Watch out for the laotian style papaya salad, its very heavy on the shrimp sauce. I prefer the Thai style (but wouldn't get that here, stick to the laotian stuff.) Crying tiger or laotian jerky with glutinous rice is worth a try. They have a great chili sauce you can buy in the fridge to the right of the entrance, it's dark a dark, thick paste of chilis. I love it.

      3. Is not Renu Nakorn still in favor? Issan, not as close as TN, both not too far from HB. How close do you need?

        1 Reply
        1. re: DWB

          not too concerned about close, really since I'd most likely go on a weekend and anywhere in OC would be in distance. Just trying to understand where the landscape of the best.

        2. I heartily recommend Thai Nakorn, as you already know. A friend who spent his Vietnam service stationed in Thailand enjoys Spice Thai in Lake Forest, but I have not been. I have been to Phuket in Belmont Shores and had a very good meal there, but the feel is more like a Thai take out or fast food place, not like Thai Nakorn, even in the Stanton location.

          Spice Thai Cuisine
          24301 Muirlands Blvd, Lake Forest, CA 92630

          Phuket Thai Restaurant
          5274 E 2nd St, Long Beach, CA 90803

          6 Replies
          1. re: ocshooter

            what do you enjoy, particularly at Thai Nakorn? I should probably broaden my scope of dishes i generally get there.

            1. re: adamclyde

              My favorite dish at TN is the oxtail soup. I don't believe its on the menu, but they've always been able to make it when I ask. In addition to oxtail, you get assorted offal. usually tripe and intestine. The bbq'ed beef tongue is another favorite of mine. Goes great with an ice cold Singha!

              Also, if you're in HB, Thai Pepper makes a pretty good pad see ew (sp?).

              1. re: adamclyde

                I am a creature of habit. I love the Crying Tiger. It is listed as something else on the menu, like beef salad, but it is basically sliced beef with a spicy dipping sauce. I like the whole fried pomfret with mango salad. Get it with the sauce on the side so it stays crispy. All the soups are good, and I usually stick to the Tom Ka Gai. The beef curry is another main stay. I prefer the sticky rice over the regular rice, but I usually get both. Do the soup over the regular rice, it is fantastic. Finally, I almost always get the fried chicken with pepper and garlic. Be warned, it has a lot of garlic. Next time I go, I am going to try the oxtail though, that sounds wonderful.

                1. re: adamclyde

                  You really can't go wrong with anything in the front inside page which lists all their specialties. I really like the mango salad with the crispy popcorn sized fried catfish bits. Also any of the grilled meats or curries in that section.

                  1. re: adamclyde

                    I also like Thai Nakorn (Garden Grove branch, never been to the Stanton one).

                    I usually start with the ridiculously spicy but ridiculously good green papaya salad. You can substitute the raw crab for beef jerky or dried shrimp if you're leery about eating raw crab like I am.

                    Chicken yellow curry is delicious. Green curry is pretty standard but tasty. The fried pomfret is also good.

                    1. re: Porthos

                      I ate there last night and it was awesome.

                      They had crispy rice salad, which is my favorite Thai dish, but they had the nam sod version not the nam khao version (I like nam khao better, it's the one with the sour sausage, nam sod just has a ground pork) but it was still really good and worth getting again.

                      The papaya salad is great here, even though my guts hate me for getting it super spicy, but it's worth it

                      The raw shrimp salad was very good, still, for this and crispy rice salad, vientiane is the place to go.

                      The larb was weak (not my order) very little flavor and I couldn't taste the ground rice if there was any

                      The spicy wild boar was very good. It was basically a khua kling, like you can get at jitlada. Equally extreme on the heat scale. The boar had a lot of fat and gristle though, not sure if they'd sub regular pork or beef for boar but if they can, I suggest doing that. Flavor wise it was awesome though, on par with jit's.

                2. Fa Sai Thai on Lincoln in Anaheim. Terrific, reasonably priced food and Nikki, the nicest owner/server in OC.


                  1. Sorry to hijack but my pregnant wife has been craving good authentic Thai food but we live all the way up in Brea.

                    Any good suggestions for north OC? When we lived in LA our favorite places were Ruen Pair and Jitlada.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: js76wisco

                      Thai Nakorn. S on the 57, W on the 22, exit Haster, left off the freeway, right on GG blvd., about a 1/2 mile on the left.

                      Thai Nakorn Restaurant
                      12532 Garden Grove Blvd, Garden Grove, CA 92843

                      1. re: ocshooter

                        Thanks, was hoping for something closer off the 57 north of the 91 but beggars can't be choosers.

                        1. re: js76wisco

                          I used to live in Fullerton and I would drive to Thai Nakorn when it was in Buena Park by Knott's Berry Farm. My ex that I lived with at the time is Thai, growing up there through college, and that was her pick for the best around.

                          Every once in a while we would go to Thai Specialty on Imperial Highway. It was OK. I usually ordered the Pad See Ew. I have not been back in the 8+ years since I moved from Fullerton.

                          Thai Specialty Restaurant
                          2500 E Imperial Hwy Ste 128, Brea, CA 92821

                      2. re: js76wisco

                        Renu Nakorn in Norwalk used to be pretty good. They had kept the same recipes as the previous owners who opened Lotus of Siam in Vegas. But last couple of reports indicate they've gone downhill some. The last time I went a couple of years ago right after they remodeled the green chili dip and mussel omelette was still pretty good. But the rest of the dishes were uneven.

                        Not sure how close that is to you and if it's worth it for you to see how they're currently doing.