Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Hungry Zombies of Thai Town - Sanamluang, Thai Town

Last night, I went to the Troubadour in West Hollywood to see the French Kicks show. After a few beers, I was drunk and hungry. I met up with J around midnight to forage for some double dinner. We didn't feel like eating tacos and decided to continue our Thai Town spree. Yes, again I'm after the perfect bowl of Thai Boat Noodles, while J, is after a delectable bowl of BBQ Duck Noodles. This brings us to Sanamluang and it's bright neon-pink and yellow sign. It had the feel of a diner located in the middle of the "Nowhere Desert". Only their lights were working properly. It'd be cool if they strobed dysfunctionally, then it would've truly been an eerie dining experience.

Outside on the tarp, Sanamluang proclaims that they have "The Best Noodles In Town". Maybe it's a direct quote from LA Weekly food writer, Jonathan Gold. Whatever the case, I was even more interested in eating at this joint. I laugh everytime I drive by a divey hamburger joint that claims they have "World Famous Burgers". This would hold true if their world consisted of a few blocks on a busy street.

We walked in and I immediately felt a weird buzz. Not because I was drunk either. The fluorescent lights projected a yellowish hue in the restaurant. The patrons stared at us like zombies - eyes fixated on us, hands slowly bringing the soup spoons to their mouths without spilling. The employees walked around slowly - tired from a long day of hustling and bustling. There were only about 5 occupied tables and everyone was spaced out. Definitely odd. Not as odd as a hospital cafeteria though.

The waitress handed us sticky menus. But again, we knew what we wanted. Here's what we had:

Thai Boat Noodle Soup
This massive bowl of noodles arrived within 7 minutes. A hot, steaming bowl of noodles, beef parts, green onions/cilantros and brothy goodness ladeled into a tacky-looking bowl. The bowl looked like it was the same ones used back in the late 80s/early 90s - possibly when they first opened. A pattern that was similar to one of Parker Lewis's many rayon dress shirts. J noticed that "Krua Thai" was written on the 80s artifact. Krua Thai is a Thai restaurant in North Hollywood, and purportedly serves up some of the best Pad Thai in LA. I don't care for Pad Thai so I won't bother challenging them. The owner of Sanamluang obviously runs Krua Thai as well. Back to the soup. Wow, this really smelled good. Things are tastier when you're drunk, but I had J try it out too. The soup was somewhat sour - more than usual. The noodles were cooked beautifully yet the portions of beef were sparse. I like a place that serves an equal balance of components - right amount of soup, noodles, garnishes and meat. This bowl was purely noodles and soup. For sure this bowl of TBN beats Red Corner Asia's. As of now, here are my rankings for Thai Boat Noodles:

#1 - Sapp Coffee Shop
#2 - Yai Thai Restaurant
#3 - Sanamluang
#4 - Red Corner Asia

BBQ Duck Noodles
J forgot to specify that she wanted yellow egg noodles. We were quite surprised that it came with thick white rice noodles - never seen it before. There was also NO SIGN OF SAUCE. Most places I've eaten at come with just a little bit of duck flavored broth - not here. The waitress was quite surprised with our request for a small bowl of broth. We saw her speaking to the chef and the chef gave us a look. Not a good sign. A chef on a bad day could add his own personal garnish if he wanted to. I could see that J wasn't too thrilled with the noodles so we switched. Either way, I was fine. I was buzzing and hungry haha. This dish came with a nice portion of fatty/savory pieces of duck. It was good.

I think this will be my new late night choice. This or Palm's - both will be good. Thanks for reading.

Sanamluang Cafe
5176 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-8006