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Jun 9, 2012 01:01 AM

Not Impressed by Renu Nakorn

After going to Vegas earlier this month and getting rejected by LOS (closed for lunch that day only!) I have had my eye on it's sister restaurant, Renu Nakorn in Norwalk.

I got a chance to try it today, ordered the Kao Soi, Nam Khao Todd, Beef Jerky, Papaya Salad and a Ka Prao with duck (wasn't on the menu but they will make it).

Nothing was bad, but nothing was very good either. I was disappointed. The Nam Khao was very crispy, which I liked, but it didn't have much flavor and the sausage pieces had very little sour flavor to them. The papaya salad was kind of soggy. The jerky was average, and the Kao Soi was just depressing. it was so bland and watery, even spicy BBQ's version is better. To top it all off, the portions were TINY. They make Jitlada's portions seem bountiful by comparison.

This place gets a lot of rave reviews, and hopefully this was just an off day or something, but you don't usually expect an off day on a Friday.

Like I said, nothing was downright bad, but this place definitely isn't worth a drive. Maybe the place has gone downhill? I strongly recommend the Northern Thai restaurants in Hollywood instead. Especially Sri Siam, Pailin and Prael.

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  1. Tried LOS the first time in Vegas a few months ago and was not impressed either. However, we were short on time and opted for the lunch buffet, which I know is like judging a good sushi restaurant by it's cheap lunch specials.

    Have you been to LOS before? Was it loads better than Renu Nakorn? Wonder what the opinion of people who tried Renu Nakorn before it closed and then tried it again since it reopened.

    3 Replies
    1. re: PeterCC

      I've been going to LOS for years. The buffet is absolutely the worst introduction possible to their food. I think you are being very generous by saying that you weren't impressed.

      1. re: PeterCC

        I was not that impressed with LOS when I sat down and ordered off menu.

        1. re: ns1

          Agreed. For people who have all of Hollywood and North Hollywood's Thai offerings at their disposal, Lotus of Siam is nothing special.

      2. Part of the draw at LOS is the impressive and well priced wine list.

        Is there a similar wine list at Renu Nakorn?

        3 Replies
        1. re: Porthos

          Maybe that was our problem at LOS, we weren't drinking! :-)

          1. re: PeterCC

            Just go over to the LV board and peruse any of Dave Feldman's posts over the years about LOS and his warnings over and over again NOT to have their buffet in order to experience the restaurant for what it CAN be:

            1. re: Servorg

              I know, we were just under time deadline.

        2. I think the place has gone downhill, more so after they remodeled. We started going there years ago right after the ownership change and the Chutimas had moved to Las Vegas to open LOS.

          The food was very good, but it has slowly eroded. The last time we went there a year ago, we just looked at each other after the first few bites and there was this sadness in our expressions. We were kind of in denial about it before but that was the last straw. Haven't been back since.

          1. Pailin is far superior to RN.

            After the re-opening from the remodeling, the food bordered inedible. All the specials are gone, and ya can't order off-the-menu Issan dishes at ALL.

            The place has NOT gotten "a lot of rave reviews". In the (562), Cancoon Thai rules the roost. Even Rachada, owned by a Laotian gent(?), fares better than RN. Of course, I've been saying this for 3.5 years now:

            And LOS? Maybe it was fantastic in the last millenium. Maybe.

            9 Replies
            1. re: TonyC

              Speaking of Pailin, how is Crispy Pork Gang & Grill these days? They were EXCELLENT when they opened (we went last August) but ISTR some downhill alerts sometime thereafter, and CPG&G doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar anymore.

              1. re: Peripatetic

                Renu nakorn in south bay and Hollywood not good.

                Jitlada best i've had in LA but LOS is better and excellent wine list and pricing (5% markup over retail I'm told)!!!

                1. re: Peripatetic

                  They're doing just fine. Perhaps the fervor has died a bit, but the community is still enjoying it.

                  CHOW/LA's Thai recs are maddening without ErikM around.

                  1. re: Peripatetic

                    Stumbled back on this thread randomly... Crispy Pork Gang was the last Thai I ate before moving out of LA (in OC now) so this was early Aug of this year, and it was bar none the worst thai I've had in Thaitown. I said I wasn't impressed by RN in the OP, well that goes double for CPG&G.

                    I remember I got the crispy pork with morning glory and Nam khao and IIRC some kind of duck, ka prow maybe? It was all poor, even their namesake dish. Honestly the crispy pork was better at ekkamai, let alone the other places I've had it in Hwood. It was basically fried to a crisp and not meaty at all, no pleasant chew under the crunch and basically it was just fat fried to a crisp... not pleasant to me. Duck dish was very skimpy on the meat and the nam khao.... sorry but I don't want to relive the horror.

                    Can't speak to it going downhill but I can say it wasn't a place I'd ever go back to with so many other options.

                    1. re: BrewNChow

                      That's the 2nd rather nasty note on CPG in as many months. The other being a field report by an LTHer:

                      Downhill reports have been rolling in since July. Perhaps the gig is up. Good thing we've moved on to a few blocks East.

                      1. re: TonyC

                        hi, ignoramus here. if crispy pork gang is now ng, where/what is the place you've moved on to, kind sir?

                        1. re: linus

                          What? You can't tell exactly the place TonyC means from that cryptic clue? (g) I'll play. I'm guessing he means http://www.original-hoy-ka-hollywood.... What do I win if I get it right? Tell me what I've won, Johnny!

                          (Well, guess would be west of Crispy Pork Gang...not east. Dammit, I've already lost what was behind door number 1!)

                          1. re: Servorg

                            I've been pimping Hoy Ka. Not sure what TonyC is pimping.

                            1. re: ns1

                              I've mixed up my pimps again! I hate when that happens...

                2. Sitting at Renu Nakorn right now; figure I'd try it for myself on my way to Anaheim. Got the spicy squid salad and the nam tod kao (and Thai iced tea). Will compare to LOS (even though we had buffet, I did order it at LOS--liked it quite much, but it didn't blow me away like I thought it might after hearing how awesome it was on the LV board).

                  Squid arrived first. Warm, pleasantly chewy without being rubbery. Fresh scallions, onions, parsley, lemongrass. Nice heat. I'm no Thai cuisine expert, but it seemed decent to me.

                  Nam tod kao arrived. Wow, I had never had it before LOS so I had no baseline to compare it to, but I like te one I'm eating right now MUCH better. The sausage pieces are bigger (half-circles of what I assume is the full circumference of the sausage), compared to the quarter-inch diced cubes at LOS, and plump, not dry. The rice was hot and crispy, rather than slightly hotter than lukewarm and chewier at LOS. The portion is also bigger here. The peanuts are whole or broken in half rather than chopped at LOS.

                  Only thing I likes better about LOS's version was the dried/roasted whole chiles that the waitress there said I could break and crumple on the dish to control the heat (had ordered it mild there since I wanted the kids to try it). Oh and the sausage was more sour and concentrated in flavor. Was what I had at LOS typical of how it comes or did I get a lemon when I went there? Maybe it's more authentic at LOS but I prefer this one.

                  8 Replies
                  1. re: PeterCC

                    Pics of the two dishes I had today.

                    1. re: PeterCC

                      The nam khao thawt (right) dish demonstrates everything that is wrong with LOS and its related kitchens (Renu Nakorn, etc).

                      This dish is Laotian in origin (hence marketed as Issan in the States). It's s'pose to be fried rice balls, broken up. At LOS, they literally just fried the rice ala rice crispies. Deplorable stuff stemmed from laziness. Then again, at Cancoon, they don't even use nam, but straight up replaces it with ground pork soured with lime. Khun Dom is probably the worst offender when it comes to nam khao tod: they do rice crispies, AND they use ground pork.

                      1. re: TonyC

                        Thanks TonyC. My knowledge of authentic Thai cuisine is close to none, but I'm always glad to learn. On purely on taste, presentation, and quality of ingredients used*, I enjoyed the dish at Renu Nakorn more than at LOS.

                        *Best as I can judge--dunno enough about nam to speak to it's quality or authenticity, but the sizzled rice was done well, even if it's not authentic. Then again, I don't know of many, or any, Chinese restaurants that make guo ba soup with real guo ba from the bottom of rice cookers, but that may not be a fair comparison, as it'd be difficult to make enough "real" guo ba to fill orders of soup, but one can take the time to properly fry up rice balls for nam kao tod, if that's the way it's supposed to be.

                        (Oops, I just noticed I transposed the second and third word of the name of the dish in my previous comment.)

                        1. re: PeterCC

                          Next time in Norwalk, might consider traveling to Thai Nakorn in either Stanton or Garden Grove, the latter being the closer of the two.
                          Their food is quite good.

                          1. re: carter

                            Thanks carter. Unfortunately, I almost never find myself in the OC. Was just going down to Anaheim for a convention. Got Bludso's bbq on Saturday and decided to try this place yesterday (and stopped on the way back at Mas' Islamic Chinese for sesame green onion bread).

                    2. re: PeterCC

                      Huh, last time I had that dish at Renu, it was room temp and mushy. More akin to steamed. And certainly the sausage pieces weren't nearly as big. Glad that it worked out for you. I had problems with their other dishes too. They had no mussels in the mussel omelette and the green chili dip was a faint echo of what it used to be.

                      I will agree that LOS is not as good as it used to be. Ever since the remodel, prices have slowly creeped up, portions shrunk and the spice level calibrated down. But they are still pretty darn good IMO.

                      As for the authenticity or lack of in their version, who cares. It has always tasted better to me than when I had it at Renu. And I would have loved it if Renu's version was better or even acceptably close. I don't go to Vegas nearly as often as years past and Norwalk is a much easier drive.

                      1. re: Jase

                        I tried to order the mussel omelette, but the waitress said they weren't serving it at that time.

                        1. re: PeterCC

                          They should just take that off the menu. We were told that the last three times we tried to order it. When we used to go there and still found it good, the green chile dip and the mussel omelette were the two dishes we thought they did so much better than any other place we could find.

                          As mentioned up thread, we liked them so much we tried giving them as many chances as possible, but finally just gave up. Hopefully your experience with the Nam Kao Tod may signal an uptick again. Your photo and description is so far off from my last experience there.