Only in Hollywood does Palms Thai Restaurant kind of make sense. Yet, with its flashy green neon sign flanked between Thai Town and Hollywood I can sort of start to wrap my brain around the bizarreness of this place. Not too far up the road is the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where impersonators roam, employing the personas of Marilyn Monroe, Batman and the King himself - Elvis Presley. But only at Palms Thai will you find the one-of-a-kind Thai Elvis shaking his pelvis and getting 'All Shook Up' as you lap up your spicy noodle soup.
The large, open, cafeteria-style dining room was already packed when we arrived early on a Saturday night. Traditional Thai decor is juxtaposed with old-style Hollywood glamor (most notably, a bedazzled statue of original flavor Elvis). And Thai Elvis certainly doesn't disappoint. His enthusiastic rendition of 'Don't Be Cruel' proved nearly as memorable as the meal itself, and that's no knock against the food. The ongoing performances lent a sort of surreal feel to the meal, but one appropriate to Hollywood.
We took our time browsing the menu, with an eclectic list of dishes that stretches well into the hundreds. In addition to plenty of Thai classics, expect to find a selection of horizon-broadening plates in the 'Wild Things' section, where dishes like deep-fried frog, curry sauteed deer and wild boar stand out. The first dish we ordered was the Rad Nar, flat rice noodels, topped with brown gravy and Chinese broccoli. It's a pretty basic dish, and while it isn't going to win any awards for originality (we've reserved those for Thai Elvis), it was solidly executed, with tender chunks of white meat chicken and greens ensconced in a thick, nicely-seasoned sauce. For me, this kind of dish is Asian comfort food, and for the price ($6.99), it's something I would gladly eat every day.
For our second entree, we ordered my new obsession, Thai-style beef noodle soup, with rice noodles, sliced beef, beef ball, and beef tripe, all swimming in a spicy soup, with a little cow's blood thrown in to thicken up the broth. This is exactly the type of soup you want on a cold day, or when you're feeling a little under the weather, or even if you're just feeling a little lonesome tonight...well, really any time for me. It's spicy, bursting with flavor, and filled with all sorts of meaty goodies.
For our third and final entree we dug into the B.B.Q. pork and wonton with egg noodles, been sprouts, green onion, cilantro, and tons of crispy garlic (below). We ordered it without broth, since we already had the soup portion of the meal covered. Loaded with juicy, caramelized pork and hunka hunka wontons, just a few bites into this dish and both Mark and I couldn't help falling in love with the Thai food at this sort of strange eatery.
I can't say that Palms beats out the boat noodles and authentic fare we recently had at nearby Pa-Ord Noodle, but pairing excellent Thai food with the flair of old Hollywood makes this much more of an experience than just a meal.