Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Krua Thai

Once I discovered the great Thai neighbourhood on Sherman Way in North Hollywood, I knew there would be many happy meals in the vicinity. Krua Thai [13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, (818) 759-7998] is the latest bombshell in my culinary universe, a noodle-centric Thai restaurant to set one's tastebuds aglow with the characteristic vibrancy missing from non-Thai neighbourhoods. As usual, there's a long menu with your favourite Thai classics. I'm sure many of these are tremendous, but this place is the North Hollywood noodle motherlode that puts Sanamluang in the shade. I would follow your Thai fellow-diners and hew to the noodle sections.

Pad kee mao.
Back in my San Francisco days, frequent King of Thai visits centred on the eternal question, #14 or #15? One was the pad see eew with meat of your choice (ground chicken or pork are my favourites), fat rice noodles/fun stir-fried with the sweet black soy sauce called kecap manis in Indonesia. Pad kee mao was the other unvarying choice, the same noodles cooked with copious amounts of chilli, garlic and basil for a hotter and more fragrant dish. Krua Thai's pad kee mao is the best I've had. You'll want to tuck in as soon as it arrives, piping hot from the wok. With noodles this great, etiquette must take a back seat - worst comes to worst you'll have to share with your salivating table companions.

Pad thai.
The exemplar of the Thai dish that loses it's stinky funk when rendered in bland Westside Thai emporia. But this is Krua Thai, so fear not, the dish is saturated in tiny dried shrimp and fish sauce, and is good and hot like it should be. Without over-egging, the sour flavours are more prominent and a squeeze of lime plus spoonful of preserved green chillis from the condiments jar perfects the dish.

General's Noodle.
Sanamluang makes a famous and tasty version of this dish, but I can attest that Krua Thai's is even better. First of all, you can choose soup or dry. The waitress recommended dry with soup on the side which turned out perfect. A large deep bowl is filled with a plenitude of meats and fixin's plus thin egg noodles that one mixes together bibimbap style. Fatty roast duck, fine char siu/roast pork, ground chicken and sliced pork meet bean sprouts, ground peanuts, green onions, fried garlic in a fabulous fermented-fish-rich sauce. There is glory and variety in each bite, and like the greatest of noodle dishes the noodles themselves are an equal partner; I felt sad when I finished mine too soon and had to eat the remaining meats. If you had to order one thing off the menu, I think this would be it.

Salted blue crab salad.
LA street food mavens are familiar with the green papaya salad from the Thai temple, and generally have their favourite stall and chef. This is where I discovered the salted blue crab, an ingredient that screams "stinky authentic Thai food". It's a small little crab generally broken into quarters or so and eaten as a crunchy whole. The flavour is very salty but tastes almost exactly like seawater, with a long and pleasant aftertaste. The salted crab salad at Krua Thai is made of green papaya but the crab is the star. Ask for it spicy and savour the greatness of North Hollywood!

16 Comments:

Anonymous Kirk said...

Hi Simon - We ate at the Krua Thai in West Covina recently and thought the Papaya Salad with Crab was excellent, it was dressed a bit differently than I've ever had. The prices were also great. The Pad Kee Mao was good, but on this day needed a bit more flavor.

7:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Also make sure to try the fresh fruit smoothies there. I've had lychee and watermelon, and both are amazing.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ate at Krua Thai tonight. WOW. Great food and great place to eat, but don't be Black. I was astounded by the stares and horrid service because I was there with my Thai girlfriend. A shame because the food really is delightful. I knew racism ran rampant but never this blatantly obvious. If you're anything other than Black, it's a great place to go.

3:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i like sanamluang cafe down the street is better.

1:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love Krua Thai... the food is amazing. I have eaten at several of the other nearby thai restaurants, including sanamluang and khun dang and both the quality of the food and service is far better at krua. Sanamluang is often over packed, the parking is terrible, and the crowd is made up of teenagers and young adults that may be attracted to the place more for a hang out spot then for the food. Some of our favorites include the papaya salad w/ dried shrimp, tom yum soup, and pad see ew. In response to a previous comment about being discriminated for being black and the place being racist... that's extremely had to believe, I'm Black and have never had that experience and the crowd is always diverse.

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9:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been going here for over 10 years. I've gone with my parents, black boyfriend, Latina girlfriend, and Armenian cousin...The service has always been bad(so to the black guy who felt discriminated against, its really not you, or who you were dating...), their bathrooms are gross, BUT the food ALWAYS more than makes up for it. I've never ordered less than 5 items at a time off the menu even if its only myself and 1 other person. Left overs will be packed to go and eaten within the next 2 hours (trust me, you'll miss the taste in your mouth). I've been to Thai places everywhere from santa monica to north hollywood to santa clarita and lancaster...NONE CAN COMPARE!

2:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is my favorite restaurant.the pad see ew, wonton soup, and chow mein are the best food ever. i go there all the time.Oh and dont forget the boba thai iced tea!

11:17 PM  
Anonymous viagra online said...

It's definitely have the best food across North Hollywood,I live in San Francisco, and I went with my wife last summer to celebrate our anniversary. I asked for Pad Kee Mao, and was really exquisite. My wife ate the same and she stayed fascinated. However something that impressed us were the excellent service and the cheaper prices.

6:49 AM  
Anonymous thailand real estate said...

Discovering Krua Thai is one of the most important event that happened to my stomach. I love the food here! Plus the staff are so friendly that you feel like at home. Krua Thai is a great place and I highly recommend it!

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