Restaurants & Bars

REVIEW: Renu Nakorn, Norwalk

Das Ubergeek | Jun 21, 200810:07 PM     3

It took a while.

I always meant to go.

I lived in the Valley, though. Norwalk was not in the cards. Not even for Thai food.

And so I went to our Thai places in Sherman Way. And I went to Thai Nakorn when I visited friends in Anaheim. I went to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. I figured that covered me.

Then we moved to Orange County... and Renu Nakorn closed for "renovation". And then Thai Nakorn burned down. Thai Nakorn opened in new digs in Stanton... but still no Renu Nakorn.

Eventually it opened, and I waited for the opportunity, and for the shiny to wear off. That was tonight. Though I got a lot of great suggestions from the Chowhounds ultimately I decided to go to Renu Nakorn and suffer the schlep to Norwalk... except it only took twenty minutes, which in Los Angeles terms is nothing. I did end up with dining companions, though, which was nice.

We ordered red chili dip (forgive my not providing the Thai name -- the takeout menu isn't as extensive as the sit-down menu, and I don't speak Thai, even transliterated restaurant Thai, so you'll have to bear with me) with chicharrones and vegetables, yum nuah (charbroiled beef salad with lime and chile and lettuce), roasted duck curry with pineapples, garlic trout and pad see ew with shrimp.

First out was the curry, which we had ordered "medium". It was absolutely delicious, rich, flavourful, the duck was perfectly cooked (even the skin was still crispy despite floating in curry sauce). My only problem was that I wanted a little more heat. Well, that's easily corrected in a Thai place... ask for and receive the Lazy Susan O'Capsaicin and doctor up your food to your taste.

The grilled beef salad was utterly superb. We got it "very spicy" (after much warning from the server that they really DID mean it and did WE actually mean it) and it was fantastic. Others found it very hot; I found it just kind of break-a-sweat hot, but then I have a higher level of capsaicin tolerance than most people.

The dip -- ah, that dip. When we were ordering, we were going to get the green chile dip, and the server said that the green chiles weren't really in season yet and that they were not good enough -- try the red. Well, I'm certainly glad we did -- it was stunningly good. The chicharrones were very hard -- had to leave some of them actually face down in the dip in order not to break a tooth -- and the vegetables were not very exciting (cucumber, tomato, carrot, lettuce, cabbage), but it didn't matter -- that dip was luscious, rich, hot and delicious.

After all that hot food, we wanted something that was just savoury without much chile heat in it, hence the noodles. They were fairly dry, which was nice. The noodles were perfectly cooked, the gai lan's bitterness cut nicely through the oiliness in our mouths, and the shrimp were pulled a little early so they'd cook through in the residual heat of the dish. One note -- Renu Nakorn have a very attentive prep cook, because though the shrimp were served tail-on, it was ONLY the tail, not the inch of shrimp that usually is covered by shell, which you then have to dissect if you actually want to eat the whole shrimp. Not a problem at Renu Nakorn.

We punted on dessert -- someone had brought egg tarts from Van's bakery.

The total damage? $36. Hardly going to break the bank.

The service was fantastic -- you can tell that they love what they do. They were happy to offer recommendations, and had specific reasons for steering us away from certain things. The service was quick, the servers were solicitous, particularly the lady "of a certain age" who seemed to run the front of house.

It's been a long time since I was so happy in a restaurant... and knowing that time-wise, it's actually closer to me than Thai Nakorn, and it's on my freeway commute home from Burbank (it's just a couple of signals east of the 5), is a very happy turn of events.

I'm not going to offer an opinion as to whether Renu Nakorn or Thai Nakorn is better -- they are very different restaurants and each excels in its chosen areas -- but you owe it to yourself to make a stop if you're heading south from LA.

In the meantime -- we played rochambeau for the leftovers and I won -- so I think I'm going to snack on some of that yum nuah... I have been thinking about it since I got home.

Renu Nakorn Restaurant
13019 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, CA 90650

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