Since I moved to near Thai Town, I've been slowly trying to eat at every place. This is taking me longer than I expected, partially because I like to go back to a place a bunch of times and try out lots of things before I move on.
Scores are out of 10, and are in no way objective, but simply reflect the state of joy in my soul leaving the place.
The first time I ate at Renu Nakorn, that might have been worth a 10. Since then, more like an 8. Will go to that other OC Thai place (Thai Nakorn?) soon.
Ruen Pair: still the Thai Town winner. Maybe an 8.5, so long as you avoid stir fries and curries and other bangkok usuals, which here tend to be greasy and flavorless. I'm a hungry man and a poor man, and the last time I got a pad kee mao here I actually couldn't finish it.
Safest is to stick to the stuff under "rice porridge a la carte," and various soups.
In my book, a perfect meal there would be: combination salad (Thai sausage, mustard pickle, raw ginger, thousand year old egg, preserved egg, bits of shrimp, other goodies), stir-fried morning glory, stir-fried broccoli with fried pork (imagine Thai chicarrones, it's a hefty hunk of dense porky-pork), kou-jub soup.
The kou jub soup is kind of the blood-and-liver soup, mysterious and dense and glorious. If you're afraid of that, try their vermicelli and stuffed bean-curd soup instead.
For the mighty: order green papaya salad, very spicy, with salty crab. This is my favorite green papaya salad in town. They understand spice use. It is MIGHTY. Trust me.
Rodded: for duck soup, 8. Fiery, balanced, lots of intense flavors. Very ducky.
Samnaluang: for #32, soup with pork bits and flat rice noodles, 7. For everything else, say a 4 or 5. The more I eat here, the more I realize how lucky I got with my first few orders. Everything that involves chicken broth and those beautiful, supple flat rice noodles is grand. Everything else is kind of poor. Broths with duck are greasy, yen ta fo is one-flavor sour, all kind of eh-ish.
Oh, chicken over rice here is real good.
Ganda: Mixed bag, seriously, overall, say, 6. But some dishes are great, up to 8 level, and some are cruddy. Highlights: best, most balanced pad kee mao. During lunch, there's a big lunch-steam-table thing. Stir-fried dishes and the like are soggy and old, but certain dishes (I'm thinking of the cold smoked catfish in intense chili sauce) are goddamn great. Homey. Worth experimenting with.
Siam Sunset: having only had their stewed pork leg: 7. Good fresh soy milk for breakfast, too, I'm a bit of an addict for that. Best before 8 AM.
The place over the supermarket with the stage: is it Hollywood Thai? Can't remember the name. 5. Decent curries and stir fries. Likeable. Only been there once. I think somebody claimed the chicken over rice here was best in Thaitown. Will go back for that.
Palm Thai: Used to be great. Now: 3. Almost inedible last time I went there (about a year ago), and, from all accounts of friends, it's gotten worse.
Thai Food Express: The hot dog sign place. It's actually sort of at 3 stage, but I feel great affection for this place. It's the lowest sort of fast-food crap food - sweet and sour pork and fried rice and egg rolls - but done with affection and care. I think of this place with affection, but don't actually go there.
Kruang Tedd: 2. Should, probably, be a 4 or 5, because there's actually some effort towards the gourmet and careful, but crappily executed high aspiring food - pretentious food - I goddamn hate. This place depresses me, and is the only restaurant in L.A. that I've ever left after appetizers. The only place in ThaiTown where I had the taste of stale, old ginger.
What's up with the strength in Northern Thai and Thai/Chinese dishes in Thaitown. Is there some immigration pattern? I truly love green curry and pad thai and all that jazz, and but I have trouble finding good ones of that around L.A. ThaiTown. All the good stuff seems to be northern, most of the times.
I'd been eyeing Sapp Coffee House, but since the L.A. Weekly review came out, it's been busy and the staff looks jumpy. I'll wait a bit a try. But it smells good.
Oh - weekend lunches at Wat Thai in North Hollywood is fantastic, and probably comes in at the same level as Rodded, although the best dishes at Ruen Pair I love a little better than the best dishes at Wat Thai.