Jitlada

When you walk into Jitlada, you’ll notice it’s dimly lit with colorful Christmas lights and hanging lamps. Once your eyes adjust, you’ll see ornaments hanging from the ceiling and the walls cluttered with interesting Thai decorations, articles about the restaurant, and signage about water and its small kitchen. There are also chef recommendations on the table, and more articles underneath the table’s glass. We’re also not sure what relationship Jitlada has with Simpsons creator Matt Groening, but many of his autographed drawings are scattered throughout the restaurant. It’s a lot to take in!

Aside from the interesting decor, Jitlada is a Thai restaurant with a menu that has grown tremendously, since its opening in 1971. The current menu is literally a large booklet with a few photos and a lot of small type! The numbered list of dishes go up into the 200s! There has been a few changes in ownership. It seems as though the current owners kept the menu that came with the acquired restaurant and added to it, making the menu massive! The current owners are from southern Thailand. Hence, all the southern Thai dishes on the back of the menu.

Location

Jitlada
5233 1/2 West Sunset Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027
Directions

Jitlada is located in East Hollywood. It’s inside a small plaza on the corner of Sunset and Harvard.

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The Dishes

Steamed Mussels

If you only get one dish at Jitlada, make sure it’s this one. These New Zealand green mussels are HUGE, and cooked perfectly in a rich, slightly oily broth filled with lemon grass, basil, and chilies. A spoonful of this delicious broth will make you fall in love at first taste.

The mussels come with the broth in a large metal soup bowl with a flame underneath. This dish tastes best when it still hot! It also comes with a homemade chili sauce on the side, which is small but rich of flavor. It’s a little spicy, sweet, and sour…the perfect combination for dipping the mussels in.

Another little tip on eating this dish is to add a bit of that yummy broth into a bowl of fragrant, jasmine rice. So good!

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Fried Morning Glory

The fried morning glory dish one of the most unique dishes we’ve tasted. The morning glory is crispy, and lightly battered. Delicate. It comes with chopped shrimp and a lot of red onion. The sauce is sour and a little sweet, and instead of using the traditional lime juice in their dressing, we believe they use a less sour pomelo, which adds a more subtle flavor. The dish is topped with a generous helping of fried shallots.

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Pork Belly Kra Pao

This dish is very similar to the Duck Kra Pao from Ruen Pair. The pork belly is sliced similar to thick bacon but doesn’t feel overly fatty. The sauce is a rich dark “gravy” with lots of garlic, onions, red peppers, chilies and crispy Thai basil. It may not be the most unique dish on Jitlada’s vast menu, but it’s consistently delicious and a safe bet considering that some of the dishes at Jitlada can be hit or miss, especially when they are too spicy to even eat. You’ll definitely want a bowl of jasmine rice to accompany this dish.

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Tips

  • There is small lot in the corner plaza where this restaurant is located, but it’s usually full. Plenty metered parking is available on the streets.
  • Closed Mondays. Tuesdays – Sundays: 11:30am – 3:00pm and 5:00 – 10:30pm. 
  • If you are concerned about spiciness, always ask about which dishes are spicy or not, because it is NOT noted in the menu.
  • Because the menu is filled with hundreds of dishes, it can be a little overwhelming if it’s your first time looking at it. Take a look at photos on this piece or Yelp to help you decide.

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  • Don’t come “hangry.” Be ready to wait a while (more often than not) to order and for your food to come out. It usually takes a long time. They even have warning signs posted on their walls about this matter.
  • Bring a sweat-shirt or jacket; It can get really cold inside!

 

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

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.

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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

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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.