L.A.’s Thai Town: A whole nation in one neighborhood
Not far from the Hollywood Walk of Fame lies an ethnic neighborhood that’s “a whole different world,” said Noy Thrupkaew in The Washington Post. Los Angeles’ Thai Town plays crossroads to the largest Thai population in the U.S., so it’s a great place to sample regional Thai cooking, from the “blood, bile, and bitter herbs” of Northern Thai cuisine to the “incendiary funk” of Southern seafood. Below, a morning-to-night sampling.
Siam Sunset Ignore the name, because this is a prime spot for breakfast—“a daytime dive that serves up soul-satisfying comfort.” Order a $2 iced coffee and decide between a savory, oatmeal-esque rice porridge and $5 specials such as spicy curry with noodles, perfumed by Thai basil. 5265 Sunset Blvd., (323) 467-8935
Jitlada Because it’s packed every night, try this casual strip-mall spot at lunchtime to sample such Southern Thai specialties as fish-kidney curry or the acacia-leaf omelet. If you fear heat or pungent odors, no worries: Jitlada also serves steamed mussels in fragrant, lemon grass–spiked broth, and some “addictive” salads, including one featuring spinach that’s been battered and fried. 5233 Sunset Blvd., (323) 667-9809
Lacha Somtum To appreciate the “tart, punchy,” lime-lashed northeastern Thai cuisine, get to know som tum—a term that describes a variety of dishes made by mashing the ingredients together with a mortar and pestle. The “most assertive” expression of som tum here is the salted black crab with fermented fish paste: “For those who love its haunting, basso-profundo pitch, all others pale in comparison.” If that’s too adventurous, “the fermented sausages and spicy pork-rib soup are also delicious.” 5171 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 486-7380
Kristin Perers, Ken Hively/LA Times, Lizzie Munro ■