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Jun 26, 2014 11:51 AM

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 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
        nam prik num
        larb mu tod (fried larb balls)
        nam prik num
        sai ua

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

        continue with something with soupy/hearty (with regular rice):
        kaeng leung
        kaeng pa with fish balls
        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.

        16 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


                  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.

                    1. re: suvro

                      Went back for lunch today.

                      Tried the esaan style sausage. It is more sour than the northern Thai sausage, and in it had less of a char than in our prior visit. Nonetheless it was very tasty, with bites of young ginger, green chili, cabbage, peanuts and cilantro. Since the prior visit was almost 1 year ago, and memories are not always reliable, I say with some hesitation that I prefer the northern Thai version over the esaan version. Have to try both of them in the same meal to make a valid comparison!

                      I had gone primarily for the khao soi. It was perfect. The curry base was redolent of fresh kaffir lime flavor, and lemongrass. While it had flecks of dried red chili, the paste was really smooth and not grainy, like when I make my own pastes at home. The amount of coconut milk and water was perfect, not too watery, yet not heavy! The noodles were OK, and what I now realize is that their fried noodles was not really fried noodles, like I see in some online recipes. It was more a savory crunchy addition for texture, and perhaps some of the Indian savories we eat will be a decent substitute. The chicken was also strips of thigh meat, not the whole chicken leg with skin that I see in some recipes. With the shallots, scallions, pickled vegetables, and squeeze of lime, it was perfect!

                      Need to go back with a bigger group soon!

                    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.