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Suggested menu for Pailin tonight?

3 of us are going to Pailin tonight. Can anybody suggest a complete meal (4-6 dishes) that will complement each other (and be delicious)? I'm happy to order a couple extra dishes and take home leftovers.

No dietary restrictions. Spicy is A-OK. A little bit of funk is good too.

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  1. A friend just had their kanom jeen nam ngiaw http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatinga... and raved about it to me.

    1. the essentials are kanom jeen nam ngiaw (nem ya is fine too), khao soi, and kway chap. i like the little funky fried larb balls, which I can never remember the name of.

      consider the other northern thai stuff: larb, sausages, salads, nam prik dips.

      1. Start with apps (with sticky rice)

        nam prik num
        fried sour pork ribs
        or
        nam prik num
        larb mu tod (fried larb balls)
        or
        nam prik num
        sai ua

        then, do a salad:
        soop nor mai
        or
        spicy squid
        or go crazy:
        duck feet salad

        continue with something with soupy/hearty (with regular rice):
        kaeng leung
        or
        kaeng pa with fish balls
        or
        whatever they have on the specials board (fried crab, etc.)

        finish off with a big plate of carbs:
        khao klup kapi (extra shrimp paste, please)

        That's a nice progression. personally, it's weird mixing up noodle bowls (single serving meal) with a bunch of other stuff, so, return for solo noodle soup meals.

        I'd link to a photo of the specials board, with some translations, but I've been disallowed several times.

        15 Replies
        1. re: TonyC

          OP should tell the restaurant s/he wants the TonyC Combo A.

          1. re: TonyC

            Fantastic, Tony, that's exactly what I was looking for. Thank you!

            Are reservations necessary for a Thursday night at 7:30?

            1. re: Bjartmarr

              unsure the word "reservation" is understood there. It's BYOB, and parking will be total BIZATCH. There are nothing bigger than 4-tops, so make sure the other 2 don't both bring friends.

              portions lean towards Thai-Thai, less TGIFriday, so don't be surprised. I wish all restaurants would start portioning like Thailand /soapbox.

              1. re: TonyC

                "unsure the word "reservation" is understood there."

                Oops. I paid attention to the Yelp page. My bad.

                1. re: TonyC

                  IT'S BYOB?!?! WHY DIDN'T YOU TELL ME THIS BEFORE.

                  1. re: ns1

                    in my defense, you also didn't know about OT's 1000 pointers. =D

                    Ruen Pair, Prael, Sanamluang all BYOB. In theory, one could toss a shot (or 3) of rum into coconut at Prael, or into Thai tea at Ruen Pair..

                    Isaan Station... is NOT.

              2. re: TonyC

                We had an excellent meal last night, thanks to suggestions here, in particular Tony C's.
                We got there around 8:15pm and there was no other customers. But by the time we were leaving around 9:30pm, most of the tables were occupied. Interestingly there was a woman with two small kids who came in late, but the table was laid out for her, and even before she was seated, their courses were served!

                We started with a Thai iced tea for me and Thai iced coffee for my wife.

                The first dish to come out was the Northern style Thai sausage. It was really a great start! The sausages were so flavorful, and the char on the outside was perfect contrast to the soft spicy meat inside. Next time we have to try the other "e saan" style sausage. We had intentionally ordered too much food so we could try different items, and bring home. So we had not intended to finish the sausages, but they were so irresistible that we ended up finishing it!

                Next came out the bamboo salad. Excellent flavor combinations. One interesting aspect was that none of the dishes we ordered were very spicy hot. I wonder if they had tamed them down seeing we were non-Thais, or whether this is the regular level of spicing here.

                The next dish that came out was the jungle curry kang pah with pork. This was also very good.

                Then we had the khao soi which was superb.

                Final dish was the Pailin spicy fried rice with shrimp - I now realize what I had intended to order was the shrimp paste fried rice, but nonetheless this was a very tasty dish.

                For all this with tax the bill came to $42. Such an excellent value. We will be going back to try other dishes.

                1. re: suvro

                  Boom! Another Pailin convert. keep 'em coming. Just waiting for the KT story to drop and we'll do this all over again, for another new/old location.

                  LA's Thai Town is just completely amazeballs right now, there's absolutely no reason to eat Thai anywhere else.

                  1. re: TonyC

                    With the closure of Ganda, Pailin is currently my favorite restaurant in Thai Town.

                  2. re: TonyC

                    I finally made it to Pailin.

                    The place is definitely a gold mine. Not sure why it isn't more popular. Maybe because it isn't in the more alive part of Thai Town? Or just not enough seats?

                    The only thing I don't agree with is this:

                    "That's a nice progression. personally, it's weird mixing up noodle bowls (single serving meal) with a bunch of other stuff, so, return for solo noodle soup meals."

                    We got the kao soy and the kanom jeen nam ngeao and had no problem splitting them among 3 of us.

                    Both dishes were, btw, outstanding. I think it would be a huge miss for anyone to go to Pailin for the first time and not order bother. The kao soy in particular is just incredible. Not too sweet, not too oily, not too creamy. An excellent spice level mixed in, and perfectly cooked slices of chicken. People can talk about Ricker all they want, but people in LA can already get a better khao soi than Pok Pok (at least the one in PDX) does right here at Pailin. I would say it's even better than the khao soi at Lotus of Siam as well.

                    The nam ngeao was a new dish and really good. With the thick slices of tomato that break down into the spice laden broth, and the sort of spaghetti esque noodles, it actually reminded me of a spicer version of some Italian stews I've had. But then the pork blood cubes add a bit of iron that you wouldn't normally get in an Italian dish. Really interesting. The broth is nice and light though. I've never really had any other thai dish quite like it.

                    We also got the fermented fried pork ribs, which were outstanding. Similar to some pork jerky I've had, but more sour as opposed to sweet. Incredibly tender, fatty/juicy. Just delicious. Though part of me worries about eating fermented pork...still, they are really tasty.

                    The larb meatballs are also supremely tasty. They have a sour bite to them that is delectable against the crunchy, savory shell. Also not bad if dipped into the khao soi broth...perhaps a bit sacrilegious, but eh, it's Thai food, you might as well have a bit of fun with it right? I supposed I like the blood-infused meatballs at Night + Market a little better, but these a really good in a kind of more rustic way.

                    Finally, something not from the Northern menu...the khao klup kapi. Never would've ordered if not for your post. Was not expecting much, but it was a pretty interesting dish. The egg was quite soft, and the shrimp paste was very rich and savory. I was not expiating the slices of mango though. The rice was also not overly fried. It was a surprisingly light dish, with many components. I never would have guessed that a fried rice could be quite like that.

                    So, all of these dishes, sticky rice, jasmine, and thai iced tea came to about $55 including tax and tip. We took at least half of the larb meatballs home, half of the rice, and half of the nam ngeao. Portions are actually much larger than I thought they would be. Pretty good considering I paid $65 for larb gai, jungle curry, and khao soi (plus sticky/coconut rice, and a thai iced tea) at Night + Market Song the night before.

                    Also, the guy who runs the front of the house, who's really cool, told us that men cannot eat kaeng leung as it is a dish designed to help women lactate... is there any truth to this?

                    1. re: Eudoxus

                      Annnnd yet another Pailin convert.

                      Per the LA Weekly story, Kruang Tedd has a second-shift Issan staff that's cranking out a pretty sick khao soi & somtum as well. Basically, right now, in LA, between Pailin and KT, we've got khao soi covered.

                      $55 at Pailin yields a monstrous meal for me. the FOH is the owner, his wife is the head chef, and his kids are bussers during weekend lunch shifts.

                      FWIW, both dill and turmeric are galactagogues...

                      1. re: TonyC

                        LA definitely has an embarrassment of riches in terms of Thai cuisine.

                        My only even slight complaint about Pailin is that they close at 10 pm, which feels quite early for Thai Town. But at least it's not as bad as Sapp's 8 pm closing.

                  3. Palin -- elk. a goose like the one that was beheaded behind her in that famous video.

                    1 Reply
                    1. Dinner report:
                      We arrived at 7:30. The entire western half of the restaurant -- everything except the three booths -- had been reserved. We waited half an hour for a table, at which point all three booths freed up and for a while we were the only people in the place.

                      We stuck pretty closely to TonyC's menu. The nam prik tasted pretty much like I remember it tasting at Spicy BBQ. Supposedly it can be eaten without making a huge mess, but I haven't mastered that trick yet. Fried larb was sour, crunchy, and rich. Khao klup kapi was pretty mild compared to our other dishes (I forgot to ask for extra shrimp paste) but I'd order it again. The soop nor mai tasted somewhat of the pickling juice they can the bamboo in, but came through with some delicious earthy flavors after a few seconds in the mouth.

                      When I tried to order kaeng leung he looked confused, then explained that it is a southern dish, and very spicy, and suggested stir-fried clams in a thin curry sauce instead. So we got the clams, which were tasty though I could have done with fewer little bits of broken shell.

                      Dinner would have flowed a little better if the appetizers had come out first, then the other three dishes later. But I suppose we could have eaten them in any order we chose, so that's kind of on us. Portion sizes were unremarkable; about the same as other Thai places. The guy running the place was very friendly.

                      $45 for 3 people, before tip, no alcohol.

                      6 Replies
                      1. re: Bjartmarr

                        such quick, excellent feedback! sorry 'bout the res thing. (OMGWTFBBQ Yelp is right). even more sorry the dinner sounded just ho-hom. BLAH.

                        hopefully you got the pork rinds w/ the nam prick? (at least they don't charge $10 for a bowl of salsa ala Spicy BBQ)

                        1. re: TonyC

                          Tony, not to hijack Bjartmarr's thread, but since you're here, just wanted to let you know Ciao Bob and I checked out Darabar on Tuesday. I don't know if we got "whited" a la Mr. T at SBJ, but even with Bobby asking for "pet pet", the food was all pretty bland.

                          We went to Lacha Somtum after to get some spice in our bellies. You weren't kidding about that duck larb, it's excellent!

                          1. re: TheOffalo

                            was very happy with lacha somtum on my first visit recently.
                            asked for medium spicy and it was...medium spicy. nice little kick.
                            got the feeling if i asked for thai spicy i would have gotten it.
                            sadly, place was nearly empty. hope it lasts.

                            1. re: misterdudeguy

                              When we went after Darabar, it was around 11 PM on a Tuesday night and Lacha Somtum was 2/3 full, so that was encouraging.

                          2. re: TonyC

                            Oh, no, I gave the wrong impression. Dinner was quite good, I'll definitely go back. We all enjoyed getting something out of the ordinary. And $45 for 3 is pretty cheap considering everything we got.

                            The reserved tables were all for one big group. It's entirely possible that reservations are only accepted for Thai-speaking parties of 15 or more.

                            He did offer pork rinds with the nam prik. But he called them "chicharrones" and I wasn't sure which dish they were meant to be eaten with and my brain didn't make the language switch in time to respond with anything other than a very confused look.

                            I really enjoy going to a new place with a pre-set menu in mind. I don't really care what I eat as long as it's something the place does well, and there's a good variety of dishes. So thanks very much for your menu.

                        2. I had my first meal at Pailin last night. We ordered the roasted duck salad, the khao soi, and the "pailin fried rice."

                          The only miss, surprisingly, was the duck salad. I was actually counting on that one to be great, but the duck was kind of limp, and the salad didn't have the spice I normally associate with thai salads. Flavors were good though.

                          On the other hand, both the khao soi and the fried rice were absolutely excellent. I've had the Khao Soi now at Spicy BBQ, Night + Market, and Pailin, and this one is my favorite.

                          The rice was probably the surprise hit. Just very flavorful, rich, and the shrimp were not overcooked, which is always a shocker in fried rice.

                          These 3 items and two diet cokes came to $26, and was plenty of food for two. Isaan Station is still probably my go-to for quick northern thai because it is less than five minutes from my apartment, but this is very, very good if you are closer to Hollywood.

                          13 Replies
                          1. re: Haeldaur

                            LAW just had a piece on khao soi, and the consensus is Pailin is the clear winner: http://www.laweekly.com/squidink/2014...

                            Glad you enjoyed overall. The duck salad is a lil tame, hence it's not always recommended.

                            NB: during the night shift, the wonderful Issan B-team at Kruang Tedd slings a massive bowl of supremely coconutty khao soi.

                            1. re: TonyC

                              Is that article written by j_gordon here?

                              1. re: TheOffalo

                                Where to Find Khao Soi, The Excellent Thai Noodle Dish You're Not Ordering

                                By James Gordon

                                1. re: Servorg

                                  Yes, I saw. Just curious if James Gordon and j_gordon were one and the same.

                                  1. re: TheOffalo

                                    Too big a co-inky-dink for my puny mind to grasp if it's not...

                                2. re: TonyC

                                  I want to order the nam prik num next time I go. Two questions: (1) Does it come with the sticky rice balls to dip in or do I have to order that separately (trying to avoid the embarrassment of asking for something that already comes with it); and (2) how is the spice level (i.e. should a standard white guy who can handle some spice but not a lot order it medium or mild, given that medium at a place like Lacha Somtum is too much for me).

                                  1. re: Haeldaur

                                    I asked for sticky rice with the nam prik, so I can't really say what would have happened had I not. But you should go ahead and ask; it lets him know that you know what you're getting yourself into. You might as well ask for the pork rinds too.

                                    As to spice level, the nam prik is spicy and I'm not sure how much it can be toned down: it is made largely of mashed chilis, after all. All the other dishes I've tried have been fairly mild. I'm not sure if there's some whiting going on, or that's just the way he feels the dishes should be served.

                                    Best dishes so far: khao soy, fried sour pork ribs, larb mu tod

                                    Dishes that were good but not spectacular: spicy squid, frog legs

                                    Misses: kaeng pa with fish balls - the fish balls were good, but the curry was fairly bland. Some chilis would have helped this dish.

                                    1. re: Bjartmarr

                                      I have tried the nam prik twice now. I really like it, but it's too intense for me. The first time, about half way through it, I almost melted down.

                                      My favorite dish there right now is the nam sod.

                                      1. re: Haeldaur

                                        I would like to split an order of nam prik as an appetizer amongst about eight people. That's about the right portion size for me.

                                        1. re: Bjartmarr

                                          So you're telling me it was really stupid to eat half of it myself...

                                          1. re: Haeldaur

                                            no, it's not. just have buckets of suds to cool the inferno. it's been done.

                                            and make sure the toilet at home doesn't clog easily. i find it an easier way to lose weight than juicing.

                                            1. re: TonyC

                                              Concur. Who needs a juice cleanse when น้ำพริกอ่อง will do the exact same thing.

                              2. Pailin has quickly become my favorite Thai place in LA to eat.

                                Tonight went with a group of 6 and doubled up on orders of Khao Soi, Nam Tok, Nam Sod, Northern Thai Sausage, Pailin fried rice with shrimp, and nam prik num.

                                Everything was excellent, the real new revelation to me was the nam sod. An incredible thai salad I'll be going back to again and again. All this food, including a couple soft drinks and sticky rice for 6, came out to 100 bucks. Hard to beat it.