(Sorry, have not been keeping on promised Thai Town quest, largely due to the Carl Chu book keeping me so damn excited that I've been cruising San Gabriel alot, and a resurgent incredible need for Indian. Will post on that later.)
Was trying to do some writing in a cafe, in a foul mood, smelled some take-out the guy next to me was eating, and was suddenly need with a nasty need for some sweet and sour pork, with the brutality of a porn craving.
I wanted it fried, I wanted it greasy, and I wanted it now.
Packed my stuff up and walked towards Thai Town. Did the reverse of what I normally do - this time, dismissed any place full of Thai, looked for a place packed with gringos. (Or maybe that's the wrong word, since there don't really seem to be Americanized Thai places in Thai Town. Just Thai places oriented for Thai people, and Thai places oriented for Mexicans.) Suddenly was transfixed by the gigantic plaster hotdog leftover from the previous incarnation of the joint at the corner of Western and Hollywood - I think it's called Thai Town Express? Anyway, they had a sweet and sour pork value meal, with fried rice, which sounded exactly the level of cheapness and dirtiness I needed, so I popped in.
What I was expecting was old skool. You know - awful pork, maybe half lard, deep fried to within an inch of its former life and then drenched in goopy sweet and sour. What I got was... an exceedingly fresh stir fry of tomatoes, onions, pineapple, and bell peppers, and decent quality pork, unfatty and unfried. Drizzled in non-goopy, thin-tasting, sweet and sour pork. It was kind of like a good, simple Thai stir fry that had been nudged gently in the direction of some half-remembered childhood memory of sweet and sour.
And the fried rice was surprisingly good, too - ungreasy, hearty, almost delicate.
And good fried wings, too, as a little added bonus. Again, ungreasy, direct, and relatively flavorful.
By no means, am I saying this was a particularly exceptional meal. Nowhere near the same league as Ruen Pair, or Ganda. I am just struck by - as opposed to the kind of heartless cuisine I've been exposed to in so many of the hip-factory restaurants I've been dragged to - that I actually haven't been able to find bad food in Thai Town. I mean this was cheap, sure, and not exactly exciting, but the ingredients were fresh, the stir fry was pleasing, and even the fried rice was nice.
Actually, I take that back. Palm Thai for lunch sucks the big one. Actually, come to think of it, probably the least satisfying Thai food I've had lately has been Palm Thai, which in the last year and a half has suffered.