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Jul 17, 2012 09:18 AM

Thai Town question

I've recently moved into the Hollywood neighborhood and am interested in trying out the Thai places that are now so nearby.

My question is - what dishes at what restaurants would you recommend that would not overwhelm 2 children with spicyness. One of my kids is a spice wimp. The other like a little spice, but is a small child, and a little to him may mean barely noticeable to you. He'll put a dab of tabasco or scriracha on his food cause he sees dad doing it...

I've read about Sapp and the boat noodles many a time, but a broth thickened with blood and floating organ chunks doesn't really float my boat if you will, authentic though it may be.

We like stir fry noodle and rice dishes, thai curries, papaya salad, grilled meat skewers, etc.

One additional question - please let me know if you think there will be a language barrier at any of the Thaitown Thai restaurants. One of my kids is peanut allergic, and it is important that I can get that information across.


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  1. Don't worry about the blood in Sapp's boat noodles. You never taste it. You can also get a bowl without organ meats and not spicy.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wanderlustre

      But I would know it was there... The crazy thing is that I make broth all the time and if I use meat (instead of bones) it obviously has blood. But I don't throw in a cup of blood that has been drained from an animal. It's probably a mental hangup, but a hangup nevertheless.

      1. re: sasha1

        The blood adds a distinct mineraly flavor to the soup. You don't taste it and think "Oh man that tastes like a bowl of blood" but you definitely taste it. It just doesn't ring "blood." But like you said, you know it's blood and if you have a mental hangup you won't like it.

        I had no such hangup and I think boat noodle soup SUCKS. I would never order it again. You can eat around the tendons and tripe but you can't eat around the broth. I ate half the bowl, thought "that was interesting" and never ordered it again. And I have pretty catholic tastes. I'd skip it. Honestly I'm very surprised at how popular it is and I think a lot of that is from the hype or "hipster" appeal of an authentic soup with weird ingredients.

        I personally wouldn't F with any Thai restaurants if you have a peanut allergy. This is LA, and the hollywood area in particular has a million great places to eat besides Thai. I love Thai but it's not worth risking your safety for.

        For the members of your family that can eat Thai food, be aware that "spicy" in Thaitown has a different meaning than "spicy" at most restaurants. Their spiciness meter is tuned to people who actually like food HOT. Even mild might be too much for the kid who likes a little heat.

        Dishes that are delicious and authentic without any weird stuff in them are Ka Prow (Stir fried meat with basil), Prik King (green beans with red chili sauce), most noodle and fried rice dishes, the requisite curries, and satays. Papaya salad often has dried shrimps or raw crab so I don't know how you guys would feel about that. It's often spicy too.

        I love Thai food, but yeah they often have a language barrier and spiciness, peanuts and some odd ingredients are par for the course. I'd say start pedestrian and keep pushing the envelope til you discover your and your family's limitations.

        1. re: BrewNChow

          "Honestly I'm very surprised at how popular it is and I think a lot of that is from the hype or "hipster" appeal of an authentic soup with weird ingredients.""

          lol. or maybe we've been eating noodle soups with "weird ingredients" since we were little kids and find boat noodles delicious.

          I never eat the liver with boat noodles and there are many innards where I just don't feel like eating it. But the noodles/soup are the best part! (imo)

          1. re: BrewNChow

            I really appreciate your words. We've taken the kid to lots of thai restaurants, but in small towns where the english is more true than the food. We carry epipens everywhere, but prefer not to use them, obviously.

            The language is the real obstacle. We've had luck when we can communicate with the staff. But if English is their second language, we've found that they either are brushing us off or trying too hard to make us happy.

            I think we'll still try the Thaitown places, but gauge how much we share with said child by how comfortable we feel in the conversation.

            Have had and enjoyed papaya salad many times. Dried pounded shrimp and fish sauce doesn't give me the heebie jeebies like vampire juice does...

      2. I don't think Ord Noodle spices up their Pad Thai at all - they leave for you to do at your table, afaik. And it's my Thai friend's favorite place in TT.

        5 Replies
        1. re: ThomasLC

          I like pad thai, but isn't having it on the menu a distinctive mark of a restaurant not being particularly true to its own cuisine?

          1. re: sasha1

            "I like pad thai, but isn't having it on the menu a distinctive mark of a restaurant not being particularly true to its own cuisine?"

            Pad Thai is authentic Thai street food. Probably not made at home in Thailand very much, but rather eaten as a snack while out and about.

            1. re: Servorg

              This is how it is explained on the Night + Market web site:

              Does the menu include pad thai?

              Yes. The NIGHT+MARKET version of Pad Thai is the most bare bones Pad Thai--the one you find in markets in Thailand. There's no meat, only dried shrimp, bits of tofu and sweet radish and peanuts. Kris hates when people characterize Pad Thai as being inauthentic, American fare rather than a traditional Thai dish which is actually eaten by and loved by Thai people. He likens it to backlash against Chardonnay, which has suffered from a poor reputation as of late because of certain producers who insist on an overoaked and buttery approach. Because of the backlash, certain bars or restaurants are adamant about not offering Chardonnay but that is problematic as it neglects the myriad regions and growers of the grape who produce wine that exhibit a real sense of place and varietal character. Likewise, certain 'forward-thinking' Thai restaurants will not offer Pad Thai as to differentiate themselves from the pack. Kris does not want to operate from a cynical place and so he chooses to offer the dish but in its authentic form.

              (Kris is the chef at N+M.)

              1. re: PaulF

                Well, this is all good to know, because I do like pad thai, and particularly the not overly sweet version (tofu is my preferred protein anyway for this). I just didn't want to seem/act like an ugly american... Or to give off the impression to the board that I wanted this, and have you guys steer me to Ronald Mc-Thai-nald.

            2. re: sasha1

              I don't know about that. Pad Thai may be a popular dish in America, but it's not a made up thing if that's what you mean (like Sweet and Sour Chicken is to chinese food). Plenty of real Thai folk dig on the stuff when the mood is right.

          2. Don't worry about the language issue.
            Go to the strip mall where they have a concentration of restaurants on Hollywood Blvd. (sorry, but don't know the name) and you'll be fine.

            7 Replies
            1. re: selfportrait93

              Can you think of the names of any of the restaurants in that strip mall?

              1. re: sasha1

                He might be talking about the Thai Patio area... but then almost every TT restaurant is in a strip mall :P

                (But Thai Patio IS one of the most English-friendly ones I know of.)

                1. re: sasha1

                  Probably thinking of the one with Ruen Pair, Red Corner and Pork Gang, which also has Thai Patio. It's at the T intersection of Hollywood and Hobart.

                  I agree with Grog that Ruen Pair is a good choice with no language barrier. We like their version of the papaya salad, nam tok and morning glory dishes. We also like their fried whole fish.

                  If you're looking for boat noodles, they do a good job at Pa Ord Noodle. But even better is their version of Tom Yum Noodle. But here you REALLY have to stress that you want it mild because their medium is the same as spicy in other Thai restaurants. There is no pork blood, but there is liver which you can either tell them you don't want, or just pick the 6-or-so pieces out. Surprisingly, they also have a pretty good Chow Mein.

                  And the crispy fried pork belly over rice is delicious at Wat Dong Moon Lek. They also sometimes have a Singapore noodle dish that is worth a drive over. Like Pa-Ord, this is a noodle house, so the noodles are fresh and well-prepared.

                  1. re: lil mikey

                    Thanks ThomasLC and lil mickey. That is the strip mall I had in mind. I apologize for not being specific earlier.

                    1. re: selfportrait93

                      But please. Do not order the their special noodles (beef, I think?) The broth tastes of something from an instant ramen packet. Awful. I live down the street and avoid it because of that dish. I'll go back and try their crispy pork belly, though...

                    2. re: lil mikey

                      How could I forget morning essential dish.

                  2. re: selfportrait93

                    "Go to the strip mall where they have a concentration of restaurants on Hollywood Blvd. (sorry, but don't know the name) and you'll be fine."

                    This is every strip mall on hollywood blvd.

                  3. At Ruen Pair, we like the green mussel omelete, papaya salad, pad kee mao with fried tofu, nam tok pork, pad prik king chicken, salad with thai sausage, mixed seafood salad, ground pork with olives, crispy pork with brocoli. Go to the dessert place across the parking lot and get the pan chu (fried cakes of coconut, taro and corn). Try to get them hot off the griddle.

                    1. At Sapp try the Jade noodles (dry) and you can tell them the level of spice you want.

                      Here's a link to some pics.