Fact #1: Los Angeles has the largest Thai population outside of Thailand. As a consequence, Thai Town, centered along Hollywood Boulevard between Normandie and Western Avenues is jam packed with countless Thai eateries, all jockeying for customers and hustling to find a way to distinguish their establishment from the pack. Fact #2: Mark and I both love Thai food - it's probably our favorite Asian cuisine. This second fact is what led us to New Hollywood Plaza, home to half a dozen Thai restaurants, including Thai Patio, Red Corner Thai Restaurant, Captain Thai, and the destination of a recent weekend lunch trip, Ruen Pair.
We didn't bother attempting to park in the very crowded lot - there's plenty of parking on the adjacent streets. Once we secured a spot, we walked past the plaza's neighboring restaurants (all sporting large and colorful banners enticing us to enter) to enter Ruen Pair's simply decorated interior, which is nicer and cleaner than the outside would indicate. A bonus consequence of the nearby competition? The restaurant was nearly empty, meaning immediate seating and prompt, efficient service. Upon seating, we doubled down on some sweet and creamy Thai iced tea (below, right).
We started off with a little greenery - the sauteed morning glory, also known as water spinach (below), was lightly cooked and maintained its fresh crunch, and was topped with a delicate yet garlicky sauce. We polished off the entire healthful dish without having to feel any guilt.
We couldn't pass up the fantastic fatty and sour Thai Issan sausage (below). The fermented taste could definitely be surprising if you're not expecting it, but we loved it. Mark thought this was the best Issan sausage he's had so far.
An order of stew duck noodles (below) ended up being a less aggressive soup than we typically order at Thai places as of late, but it was still really nice - the duck slices were plentiful and juicy, and the broth, while not as thick as I prefer, was fragrant and tasty.
While the preceding dishes were very, very good, the clear winner was the Chinese broccoli and crispy pork (below). The broccoli was perfectly crisp-tender and bathed in a light, velvety gravy alongside the star of the dish, the crunchy morsels of pork.
I think Jitlada and Pa-Ord still come out on top as our favorite Thai places, but Ruen Pair, with its slightly more subtle flavors, large portions, and great prices - the crispy pork, for instance, was under $8 - is not far behind. While we will still probably try to hit each and every Thai restaurant in Thai Town, Ruen Pair is a great go-to.