I had two meals that I really enjoyed recently. One was at Swan Thai and the other was at Sri Siam (thanks to whoever recommended these places on another post a while back).
Swan Thai is located across the street from the 99 cent store in a creamy orange strip mall where the mostly empty parking lot is strewn with trash.
The atmosphere feels a little grungy--replacing the stained ceiling tiles and flourescent lighting would do a lot for the atmosphere, but this is a low-budget place that's strictly about food.
It's been ages since I've had larb, a salad made of ground meat and a spicy lime juice dressing. Swan Thai has quite a few larb options: fish, duck, beef, pork, or chicken (duck and fish are more expensive). Even though I don't like pork, I really liked their pork larb.
Swan Thai's fish cakes were predictably good. The only thing that was notable about them was that they were cut into smaller pieces than usual.
Their rendition of pad kee mao has plenty of thick, chewy noodles and flavorful beef. A few more peppers and mint leaves might be good, but for those who don't like their noodles contaminated with veggies, this dish is a great bet. I liked the spiciness and the texture of the beef at Krua better, but their noodles are greasier, so it's a tradeoff.
Swan Thai Restaurant
12728 Sherman Way (just east of Coldwater Canyon)
North Hollywood, CA 91605
Hours 10:30am-10pm daily
Free delivery within 4 miles, $10 minimum
At Sri Siam, I started with a green papaya salad. It was different from other papaya salads I've had because it contained green beans and tomatoes. I was pleased that it was plenty spicy (okay, so spicy that I had to stop eating it). Also, most green papaya salads I've tasted have been sweet, so I was surprised when this one was mostly salty and spicy.
Next up was pad Thai, a mildly sweet, pleasantly greasy, ketchup-free rendition with plenty of al dente noodles with no obnoxiously healthy add-ins like carrots and broccoli.
Finally, I tried the rad nah - rice noodles topped with gravy, Chinese broccoli and meat. This dish didn't look too appetizing when I opened up the container, but it was surprisingly fantastic. The noodles were a bit sweet, as if they'd been fried with a bit of palm sugar, while the sauce was salty. The beef had bite, in a good way. Most surprising was the Chinese broccoli, which which I learned is a member of the mustard family like American broccoli, but it's tangy,like kale and has leaves rather than florets. The sweet, salty, and tangy flavors were a great combination.
Sri Siam Cafe
12843 Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
Free delivery within area with $15 minimum
At both places, the service was friendly and the food was fast. Also, most dishes were in the $6-8 range--quite a bargain.
I'm wondering if there is a link between Swan Thai and Sri Siam because their food seems quite similar and they have both modified their business cards to cover up the "closed Wednesdays." Does anyone know?