Last night my girlfriend and I decided to brave the parking of East Hollywood to give CH Thai favorite Ruen Pair a shot. For those not aware, the parking in that area is nightmarish... the strip mall where the restaurant is located had cars blocking each other in (parked perpindicular to each other!!) with a small annex in the corner that was impossible to get out of without reversing out.
Street parking was no easier-- we drove around block after block for 20 minutes and finally found parking about a 10 minute walk from the restaurant, and were offered the option to purchase something from a shady character as we walked by. Be aware, this is not the kind of place to take a chance on if you're pressed for time. Thankfully, we weren't.
After the walk to the restaurant, we were greeted by an extremely cozy little room, and an extremely uncozy crowd of people waiting to get in. Thankfully most of them got frustrated and dispersed during my interim trip to the ATM in the donut shop next door :-) (Note: cash only)
Upon returning, we were seated right away. It's a very cute room, with a friendly, family vibe. Restaurant had a great smell, not entirely typical of other Thai places I've visited (most recently Wat Thai in NH). The air was perfumed, and a little sweet.
We ordered 3 dishes-- soup hotpot with shrimp and mushrooms, chinese broccoli and crispy pork and pad se ew. First the hotpot arrived, in a dramatic presentation with a flame erupting from the middle of a bundt cake shaped serving bowl. It was our own little Mt. Vesuvius. The soup had a real punch of sour, unlike any thai soup I've had before. I believe the menu said they use lemongrass in the broth. There was a generous amount of shrimp in the soup, which soaked up a bit of the sour. I felt that the sweetness of the shrimp augmented the sour of the soup in a way that reinvented a flavor better as a combination that as individual elements. Oh, and a word of caution, those aren't green beans floating in the soup. Total cost- about $6.00
Next was crispy pork in chinese broccoli. This was truly delicious. Big, varied sized chunks of fried pork (largest must have been about 1" square), tossed with chinese broccoli. Superb. Only complaint is that the plate was a little small. Total cost- about $6.00
Finally, the chicken pad se ew w/ chinese broccoli. I wish that we had started with this dish, because compared to the other items this was a little light on flavor, but that is not to say it was a bad preparation of this dish. The sweetness of the sauce and bitterness of the chinese broccoli complimented each other very nicely. In fact, after taking a few bites of both chinese broccoli dishes separately, we started to combine them into a lovely chinese broccoli-noodle-pork combination.
Thanks everyone for the recommendations for this place. Next time we'll try the morning glory and green papaya salad with crab. If only the parking weren't so... questionable.