Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Hollywood: Venturing into Thai Town!

After living in LA for all these years, I've never been to Thai Town in Hollywood. Heck, I don't even remember the last time I was in Hollywood, except for a night out. Last year Michael gave me a gift certificate to Six Taste, a walking culinary tour in LA focusing on different neighborhoods of LA, so I asked him to book the Thai Town tour for me in January. Thai Town was always one of those places I wanted to check out, but never really got a chance to.

It was on a Sunday and our little group consisted of Michael, Tiff Tseng, Tiff Hsu, Diana, Ken, and a few others. Now, I did have a little reservation about the whole walking tour idea since I went out the night before and wasn't sure if I was really up to the task of walking for 3 hours, but our tour guide Wanda was great and informative, and as soon as she introduced herself to us, I knew we were in good hands.

Six Taste Tour: Thai Town Food Tour
Guide: Wanda

The tour started out at the Thai Angel statues that sits on Hollywood Blvd. Was definitely surprised to find out that Los Angeles has the biggest Thai population outside of Thailand, and Thai Town is even referred as the 78th province of Thailand!


Plaque (click to enlarge).

Wanda started out the tour with a little introduction of Thai Town and a little treat for us: tamarind! I've never seen tamarind in its original state so that was pretty awesome.

Inside! Somewhat fibrous. Sweet.

First stop: Silom Supermarket, an authentic Thai market!

What we came here for: Kanom Beuang! Kanom Beuang is essentially a thin crepe or wafer then topped with meringue and either coconut or strips of egg.

Making the "Thai taco."

The coconut is actually salted so it is more savory while the egg is the sweet one out of the two. Sorta expected the other way around haha.

Egg + meringue + thin wafer

Salted coconut "taco"

Next stop, Pa Ord for some Northeastern Thai cuisine.

Hours & address.

So this part of the tour focused on the Northeastern-style Thai sausage, Isaan sausages, which is this tangy pork sausage. The reason why it is "tangy" is because it is actually fermented. Comes with all sorts of veggies to eat the sausage with. Definitely one of the most unique things on this tour.

Wrapped by ginger.

Personally, I like it with garlic straight up :P

Next stop, we got a taste of how Thai eats breakfast at Siam Sunset, which is a small hole-in-the-wall located inside a motel. There's no sign outside, or at least I couldn't find one. Love these places! Wanda is showing us how to eat Pa Tong Go, which is Chinese donuts, aka 油條 youtiao.

Pa Tong Go!

Eaten with condensed milk. I also had it with condensed milk once at this breakfast place in Taipei.

A little more doughy than the Chinese counterparts, and smaller so easier to eat haha.

At Siam Sunset, we also got our drinks. The selections were Thai Iced Tea, Thai Iced Coffee, Iced lemon Tea, Chrysanthemum Tea, and Coconut Palm Juice. A lot of people went with the coconut palm juice.

I went with the Thai Iced Coffee, since I needed a boost of caffeine. Very strong and bitter then it is offset by the condensed milk and cream.

Next, to the popular Sanamluang Cafe.

Front of menu.

duck stew noodle soup
First up, Roasted Duck Noodle Soup. What's crazy about this is that they add cinnamon to it! A little weird but very tasty and unique! The flat noodles and the roasted duck were amazing.

pad kee mow!
Something that I know really well, Pad Kee Mao :] Spicy and greasy. Perfect.

ong choy with soy bean sauce
Perhaps my favorite of the tour: Stir-fry Morning Glory with Soybean Sauce. Morning glory, aka ong choy, aka water spinach, is my favorite veggie of all time, and Sanamluang Cafe has a super tasty version of it! Been eating ong choy since I was born but never had it with soybean sauce.

Had to take a picture of this :P And it was a beautiful day!

Off to Ruen Pair for our food challenge!

Wanda mentioned that we would have a food challenge at the beginning of the tour and it was eating spicy raw shrimp!

To be honest... don't think it is such a big deal for most Asians that have been eating sashimi but I can see why people would say no :P Look at that gelatinous goodness!

The spicy soy dressing. Straight up addicting.

Wanda showing us how to eat the shrimp.

A little bit of cilantro, cabbage, add the shrimp and the dressing... I think I did alright. Not as pretty as Wanda's that is for sure haha.

Moo Daed Diew, which is pork jerky. Great dish and that sauce, again, so damn good!

The fried pork can be eaten with sticky rice, which comes in that basket.

Som Tam Thai, young papaya salad. Much needed after all the salty dishes.

Pad Prik King with chicken. Spicy green beans!

Afterwards, we went to Red Corner Asia, which is actually in the same plaza for more food!

Coconut Ice Cream. There's actual coconut chunks in it.

Ginger Fish Filet. Fried fish then wokked with all sorts of ingredients. Even though it is fried, flavor-wise, it is one of the "calmer" dishes.

Before we went back to the market, we stopped by Bhan Kanom Thai, which is a Thai sweets shop.

Kanom Kruk, coconut pudding. Essentially it is a coconut batter cooked in a cast iron mold, and the middle is still sorta uncooked so when you bite into it, it has a pudding-like texture. Awesome.

Chewy and soft at the same time.

They also sell durian chips.... not.. for me.

Afterwards, we went back to the Silom Supermarket, where Wanda showed us what ingredients to get if we wanted to make our own morning glory with soybean sauce. Saw a bag of Tom Yum Crisps... interesting haha.

Tiffany went absolutely berserk and got more of kanom beuang!

Definitely a fun and informative day! One thing that did strike me was that most of the dishes we've had were more family-style rather than individual entree. Looking through the menu at all the restaurants, there's so much more items as well that is meant for family-style. I've never really enjoyed Thai food in the States like I did in Taiwan, until today. Thai food in Taiwan is obviously changed a little to suit Taiwanese's palates but I really enjoy the family-style aspect of it rather than people ordering their own noodles or curries, so looking forward to the next time I head into Hollywood for some authentic Thai food!

Oh and next month, off to Taipei and NYC!