Mama Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes

Out of all the Thai places we’ve eaten at in LA, Mama Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes reminds us the most of eating street food in Thailand. Perhaps, it’s because of how this place is set up. Mama Mae Ting’s is under a tin roofed tent, with a station for making papaya salad, coconut cakes, and BBQ skewers. It smells amazing. There are also little Thai snacks everywhere.

Mama Mae Ting

Mama Mae runs the spot. You can tell because of her vibrant presence. She always welcomes you the moment you step foot into her make-shift restaurant. Plus, there’s a gigantic banner of her hung on the side of the tent!

Underneath the tent, there are two tables you can sit and eat at. There are also a few small tables in the sun, under some umbrellas, if you prefer some sun.

Location

Mama Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes
1100 N. Main Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012
Directions

Mama Mae Ting's

This place is street vendor set-up in the parking lot of LAX-C, also know as the Thai Costco. This is where people go to get loads of ingredients and supplies for their restaurants. But unlike Costco, it doesn’t require a membership to get in and buy something. So you can definitely go in and explore, and maybe, buy 5 lbs of fresh lemongrass. It’s worth noting that there’s also a Thai fast-food place to eat inside LAX-C, but it’s never been that great the few times we’ve tried.

There are a few other Thai restaurants and Chimney Coffee House within the same enclosed area, sharing the parking lot.

The Dishes

Mama Mae Ting’s Coconut Cakes has a super-simple menu. They offer meat skewers (chicken and pork), papaya salad, sticky rice, Thai sausage, and coconut cakes, of course! But that’s it. We haven’t had a chance to try the E-saan sausage and papaya salad yet, but we’ll have to try it the next time we go.

Meat Skewers

These meat skewers, especially the pork ones, are a must-try when you come to Mama Mae Ting’s! You order what you want, and the guy with the cap that presides over the BBQ grill masterfully grills your meat orders to perfection. Most of the time, he’s got some on the grill, ready to serve already, which means you get your skewers very quickly. So good if you come hungry.

These skewers have been well-marinated, and taste delicious after it’s cooked over the grill and dripping in its own fats. The best are the pieces with little pieces of fats on them! You can eat this with a sticky rice to balance out the rich flavors.

meat skewers

Coconut Cakes

It’s in the name! These coconut cakes are what Mama Mae Ting’s is known for. They make it fresh.

Making coconut cakes

Coconut Cake detailCoconut cakes

Tips

  • Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place.
  • There is a parking lot, which you can park in for free. It’s an enclosed parking lot for LAX-C (the large supermarket), and other places to eat and grab a drink, but the lot has never been full when we’ve gone on the weekends.
  • If you take the Gold Line Metro-Rail, you can jump off the Chinatown stop, and get to it within a 5-10 minute walk. You’ll pass mostly industrial areas to get to it.
  • Opened on weekends only. Saturdays and Sundays 9:00am – 5:00pm.

Isaan Station

One of our favorite Thai places in L.A. is Isaan Station—a restaurant that specializes in Northeastern Thai food, and has the best sour pork ribs we’ve had!

The restaurant is a fairly large two room building in a small plaza with valet parking. The main dining area has a few TVs constantly playing Thai pop music videos. All sappy love stories. You can become addicted to watching these in a matter of minutes.

There is a large window that lets you see into the kitchen. We knew this place was going to be good the first time we came. Why? Because we saw some Thai grandmas cooking the food!

Isaan Station’s menu is not as large as some Thai places, but the dishes they do offer seem to be well perfected.

The highlights of coming here include the fact that there’s never a wait! You can try unique dishes. And they can easily accommodate large parties. Oh, and we must not forget the Thai pop music videos! These are all the reasons why we decided to celebrate JP’s birthday dinner here.

Location

This Thai restaurant happens to be located in Koreatown; not Thai Town!

Isaan Station
125 N Western Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90004
Directions

The Dishes

Sour Pork Ribs

If you only get one dish at Isaan Station, make sure it’s this one. The ribs have an unusual sour flavor that comes from the preparation process, which allows them to ferment over a few days before cooking. The ribs are then deep fried and served with raw ginger, peanuts, chilies, lime and cabbage. In our opinion, the best way to eat this is to take a small bite of everything together. It creates a really complex balance of salty, sour and spicy!

sourporkribs1Papaya Salad with salted egg

There are a lot of Thai restaurants in L.A. that serve papaya salad, but we haven’t found too many with this version. It’s a murky blend of the usual fish sauce, lime juice, palm sugar dressing but with the addition of salted egg. The dressing is a little more subtle in flavor and not quite as sweet or sour as the usual papaya salad.

papayasalad

Crying Tiger

You can’t go wrong with grilled beef. And Isaan Station does this dish well. Slightly sweet and caramelized. It comes with a very tangy and flavorful dipping sauce.

cryingtiger

 

Cockle Salad

This dish was recommended to use by our Thai friend, Warin. We had to look up what a “cockle” was because neither of us had any idea! It’s a salt-water clam, apparently.

This dish is incredibly flavorful and highly recommended for anyone that loves complex Thai flavors. Large clams chopped and mixed with lemongrass, onions, mint, chilies, lime juice and a generous amount of fish sauce dressing. Very spicy, sour and salty.

cocklesalad

cocklesalad1

 

Pork Larb

We got one more dish which was a basic pork larb. It was not particularly memorable or unique, but very solid and well done. Pork, red onions, cilantro, green onions and lime and fish sauce dressing.DSC_2983

 

Tips

  • Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place, but there’s an ATM inside.
  • There is valet parking in the lot (full sometimes), and it’s about $2-3 with validation. We don’t know exactly because we’ve always found parking at a meter or for free on the streets not far from the restaurant.
  • Closed Mondays. Tuesdays – Fridays: 11:30 am3:00 pm and 5:00 pm12:00 am. Saturday and Sunday: 11:30 am – 12:00 am.

Kim Thai Food

For our first stop, we drove out to the Valley in search of a place called Kim Thai Food. We hadn’t been before, but we heard from a few friends that it had some great dishes, especially a delicious papaya salad. We decided to give it a try!

 

Location, Location, Location

Address: 12727 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605

It took us a few tries before finding Kim Thai Food because of its hidden location. We knew that it was in a shopping plaza off Sherman Way, but there were so many shopping plazas in that area! We even used Waze to navigate there but ended up walking around the wrong plaza. After driving into the second plaza, we decideLa Fiesta Swap Meetd to walk into “La Fiesta Swap Meet.”

We had no idea what was inside, but it showed promise because of a small sign that said “Food Court: Comida Internaccional.” Luckily, both of us understand a bit of Spanish. No outside signage for Kim Thai Food but our instincts told us it was in there.

We walked in and saw aisles  full of small toy and clothing shops, left and right. No indication of food though; at least not until we walked all the way to the back…

shopsAnd then…BINGO! There it was. Kim Thai Food—a small, unpretentious, hole-in-the-wall with a neon sign and delicious looking Thai food. We were so happy to find it.

Kim Thai Food

Kim Thai Food

The Dishes

We ordered three dishes: grilled pork, duck larb, and papaya salad.

Grilled Pork – $10

All the dishes were delicious, but this one stood out. We’d definitely come back and order this again. The meat was well cooked and still tender.

grilled pork 1

The sauce that came with the grilled pork was A-M-A-Z-I-N-G. Imagine concentrating all the Thai flavors into one small bowl and that’s what it tasted like. Raw garlic, chilies, lime juice, fish sauce and who knows what else. While our tastebuds were in heaven, anyone within breathing distance from us for the rest of the day was not.

grill pork sauce
Duck Larb – $15

We had seen this dish on their Yelp page and decided to try it despite it’s unusually high price tag. From what we could tell, the Duck Larb consisted of ground duck meat, liver, kidney, crispy chicharones (fried pork skin), dried chilies and fresh herbs. Mint, lemongrass, lime leaves, garlic and cilantro all gave it a really fresh and flavorful taste.

duck larb
Papaya Salad – $6

This was the dish we came specifically for. We heard from a friend that it might be the best papaya salad in L.A. There were a few minor things we would have done differently (like using cherry tomatoes and dried shrimp) but all in all, it was a very authentic and flavorful papaya salad with just the right amount of fish sauce, lime juice and palm sugar dressing. Peanuts, chilies, long beans and cabbage completed the dish.

Proportion was good for two people, but it can easily feed three, especially if you’re all sharing another dish or two.

We’re not sure if it beats the papaya salad at Ruen Pair but it’s definitely in our top three.

papaya salad

Environment

The Environment was definitely interesting. One of the views, while we were eating, was of a woman getting her eyebrows professionally threaded.

Another view was of Kim Thai Food staff making papaya salad and handling orders behind the counter.

Kim Thai Food Environment

 

We really enjoyed Kim Thai Food not only for it’s authentic Thai food, but also for the experience of hunting it down. Eating amazing Thai food in a mall full of random shops is definitely an authentic Thai experience, which made it even more nostalgic for us.

Tips

  • Bring cash with you. It’s a cash-only place.
  • Parking is free and easily available in the shopping plaza lot.
  • It’s closed on Tuesdays.
  • Check out other dishes to order: Kim Thai Food on Yelp.
Photography by JP Candelier.