Ruen Pair

Located in the heart of Thai Town, Ruen Pair is definitely on our go-to list for very reasonably-priced and consistently delicious Thai food. We’ve been coming here for years, and every dish we’ve tried is great. So you can’t really go wrong with anything you oder at Ruen Pair.

There are, however, a few stand-out dishes that Ruen Pair does the best! And we’re excited to share more about those dishes with you in this post. Here’s a snippet: Ruen Pair’s got the best Fried Pork Jerky and Pad See Yew dishes we’ve had! Their Papaya Salad is also amazing…It’s one of the best, and definitely the largest portioned one, we’ve found in LA! Scroll below to read more about these tasty, must-have dishes.

Ruen Pair is also super-accessible. It’s opened from 11:00am to 3:00am daily—that’s a 16-hour period you can go enjoy great Thai food, every single day of the week! Closing time for Fridays and Saturdays are extended to 3:30am. Perfect for you late night owls with the munchies, or those of you looking to fill your stomachs after a night of clubbing in Hollywood.

Location

This restaurant is located in Thai Town, within a plaza with at least three other Thai restaurants—Thai Patio, Red Corner Asia, and Crispy Pork Gang—and a place to pick up some traditional Thai desserts! There’s also a very-out-of-place sushi restaurant, on the left of Ruen Pair.

 

Ruen Pair
5257 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90027
Directions

The Dishes

Fried Pork Jerky

If you only get one dish at Ruen Pair, make sure it’s this one. It sounds like a simple dish, and many Thai places have a version of this, but this one is better than any we’ve had. Most places will over-cook the pork and you’ll be gnawing on tough, super dry, meat but Ruen Pair cooks their’s perfectly. Browned on the outside and still slightly tender on the inside.

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The pork itself has a semi sweet and salty flavor that’s good by itself, but the real magic happens when you use the dipping sauce that comes with it. It’s so complex; We haven’t figured out all the ingredients in it. Lime juice, roasted chillies, tamarind, and shallots are definitely components though.

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Roast Duck Krapow

This is one of our favorite dishes at Ruen Pair. It’s a primarily savory dish with garlic, basil, chillies, and pieces of roast duck. It’s a dish with a lot of sauce; served with a generous helping of the duck “gravy” as well as a small dish of fish sauce and chillies, which we usually find unnecessary to use since the dish has the perfect amount of saltiness already. This dish is best enjoyed on top of a fragrant bowl of jasmine rice.

 

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Pad See Yew

I am not a big fan of Pad Thai but I love me some Pad See Yew. Pan fried wide rice noodles cooked with Chinese broccoli, egg and (usually) beef in a slightly salty and sweet sauce. The noodles don’t have any sauce (like Pad Kee Mao) but they have a great subtle flavor.

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The dish is always meant to be accompanied by the condiment tray that every Thai restaurant will have even if you don’t see it on each table. Ruen Pairs consist of dried chillies, chili sauce, chillies in vinegar, and plain white sugar. We tend to like ours with chillies in vinegar and dried chillies, but you can season it how you want.

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Ruen Pair has a very large menu and even though we’ve been here dozens of times, we still haven’t tried everything. These three dishes are our personal favorites but some other notable dishes are:

  • Salty vegetable soup
  • Cha Po (Three types of pork over rice with sweet soy sauce)
  • Papaya salad. One of the best and most generous portions in L.A.
  • Penang curry
  • Morning glory

We’ll be reviewing those dishes on our future visits.

Tips

  • Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place, but there’s an ATM inside.
  • There is valet parking in the lot, and it’s usually $3 with validation. Metered and free street parking is also available, but it can be hard to find!
  • Sundays – Thursdays: 11:00am – 3:00am (you read correctly; that’s AM!), Fridays and Saturdays: 11:00am – 3:30am

Spicy BBQ

Terrible name. Great food.

Spicy BBQ has got to be one of the most generic names for a Thai restaurant, but that’s the actual name of this amazing, hole-in-the-wall place we’re about to tell you about! Located in the Little Armenia neighborhood of East Hollywood, this restaurant specializes in traditional Northern Thai cuisine from the Chiang Mai region, and serves some of the best Thai dishes we’ve had in LA.

Location

Spicy BBQ
5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90029
Directions

Monica Plaza

The restaurant is easy to miss and located in the small, two-story outdoor Monica Plaza, with other businesses, ranging from medical offices to a market and falafel place. Spicy BBQ is on the bottom floor, closest to the Santa Monica Boulevard side. There’s a sign above the restaurant door with “Thai Food” in bold, bright green letters. It has red window curtains that are always closed, which makes it seem like the restaurant is closed from the exterior, but don’t be fooled!Thai Food

Walk into Spicy BBQ, and you will find yourself in a little Thai restaurant that has seating for 18 people max. There are only six tables, decorated each with its own Thailand tourism poster under a glass pane.  Its staff is also very modest. There’s only one Thai waitress and a couple of older Thai women in the kitchen. Surprisingly, there’s rarely a wait for a table.

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The Dishes

The dishes at Spicy BBQ are fairly cheap with very big portions. For this visit, we ordered three of the best dishes this restaurant has to offer: Gang Hang Lae (aka Chaing Mai Curry), Jack Fruit Salad, and Khao Soi (aka Chiang Mai Noodles)

Gang Hang Lae – $12.95

The best in Los Angeles! Gang Hang Lae, also known as Chiang Mai Curry, is a hard dish to find. The waitress at Spicy BBQ said this restaurant is the only one in LA that serves it, but now Pok Pok and Night+Market do too.  We’ve tried the dish at these three places, and this one truly stands out.

At Spicy BBQ, the Gang Hang Lae is oily, fragrant, and slightly sweet with large chunks of perfectly cooked pork. Occasionally, you may get a large piece of pure pork fat which isn’t very pleasant but overall, this dish has complex flavors that mix so well together! It’s delicious.

Ingredients: pork, curry paste, onions, lots of ginger, pickled garlic, peanuts, star anise

Gang Hang Lae

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Jackfruit Salad – $10.95

This Jackfruit Salad is one of our favorite Spicy BBQ dishes and one of the best Thai dishes in LA! What makes this dish unique is how similar the texture of the jackfruit is to the shredded pork. You can’t really tell the difference when you take a bite. It’s just all very tasty! The dish also has a nice balance of oiliness and spiciness. The flavor of the lime leaves, which is an essential ingredient in Thai cooking, and herbs all come together and enhance how yummy this dish is.

Ingredients: jackfruit, pork, crispy pork, lime leaves, cilantro, green onions, onions, garlic, tomatoes, fish sauce, shrimp paste(?)

Jack Fruit Salad 1

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Khao Soi – $9.95

Khao Sio, also known as Chiang Mai Noodles, is a curry noodle soup that you actually eat with chopsticks and an Asian soup spoon. This is the best one we’ve have had in LA so far as well.

The bowl comes topped with crispy noodles, cilantro, and a generous amount of coconut cream. On the side is a small dish of pickled cabbage, red shallots, and lime. (If it doesn’t come with this side dish, it’s not authentic Khao Soi!) To begin, you mix all these ingredients together in the bowl. So good!

Ingredients: Lots of coconut milk, curry paste, egg noodles, chicken, crispy noodles

Khao Soi

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Tips

  • Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place, but there’s an ATM right by the entrance.
  • Use the bathroom before you come eat! There’s no bathroom inside restaurant. If you need to use it, you have to get a key, walk outside, upstairs and down a sketchy hallway locked by a metal gate. Not fun, especially at night.
  • If you’re lucky, you can snag one of the limited free parking spots in the small plaza lot. Otherwise, you’ll have to look for free or metered street parking.
  • If you’re using public transit, the restaurant is 8 blocks from the Metro Red Line’s Vermont/Santa Monica station. Metro Lines 206 and 704, and Metro Bus 4 also have stops right on the corner of Normandie/Santa Monica, where Thai Spicy BBQ is located.
  • It’s closed on Wednesdays. Opened all other days from 11:00am -9:30pm.