Finally made it to this Thai superstar on Hwd Blvd Friday night -- after having read about it many, many times on this board. Why did I wait so long? Especially when I used to live around the corner from the restaurant. I should be expelled from the pack for not having heeded the hound's call earlier. Instead, I give you my report, dutifully noting that I owe my dinner to Chowhound...
And what a great dinner! It started with a shrimp cake that a neighboring table was kind enough to share with us. I have to admit I wouldn't have given the cake up if I'd ordered it; it was a real treat --brown and crusty on the outside, still moist and flavorful on the inside. Mmmm. Per our neighbors' suggestion, we then dove into a bowl of "sticky rice" -- my first, I'm embarrassed to say. Has everyone else here had the chewy, glutinous, almost furtive experience that is sticky rice? It's like eating all the dried-out, caked-on parts in a rice pot when no one's looking. But not charred and crispy like the edges of bi-bim-bap rice; more, I don't know, sticky and noodle-like. Question for Thai aficionados: is sticky rice cooked in the plastic baggie or merely served/preserved that way? And it is it permissible to eat sticky rice with your hands?
Next on our dinner menu was papaya salad. In the last month, I've eaten more than credible papaya salads at Mae Ploy and Saladang, but this was the best. Not the most delicately but by far the most powerfully flavored -- it packed a real papaya punch. We wimped out and ordered med spicy -- but at Renu Pair medium is roughly double what extra spicy might be at a Thai place that catered to gringo tastes. The salad was blistering (in a good way of course). Don't count on leaving with the roof of your mouth in one piece.
For our main courses we ordered the ground pork with Chinese olives and the sauteed squash blossoms I'd read about on this board. Fantastic! The squash blossoms were delicious. The ground pork sublime. Eating these rich, nutty, fatty but crunchy pork bits had the wonderfully naughty quality of picking off the "best parts" of some other larger pork dish. Similar to the sticky rice in this respect, now that I think about it... The olives cut the grease slightly but mostly just deepened the flavor. Can't recommend this dish -- or Renu Pair -- enough. Next time, I intend to try one of the rice soups that our friendly neighbors pointed out...
By the way, Renu Pair is small and in a mini-mall, but the interior's actually kind of cute, not dive-y. A perfectly acceptable place to take a date. Or even a parent. Cheap, too. Cash only.
With thanks to all,