Lunch at Luv2Eat

About to leave for LAX to fly to Delhi and so will quickly park the text portion of my review of our lunch at Luv2Eat last week here. As always, pictures with more detailed captions on the food are on the blog for those who want to see/read them. And now it’s off to three weeks of eating in Delhi and then a few days in Hong Kong!


As I’ve noted on multiple occasions, Los Angeles almost certainly has the best Thai food in the United States. Las Vegas may have Lotus of Siam and Portland may have Pok Pok, but Los Angeles has Thai Town with its seemingly endless series of holes in the wall on Sunset and Hollywood Boulevards. Yes, LA has seen a couple of trendier places open in the last year or so in Night+Market (and it’s spinoff, Song) and more recently two outposts of Andy Ricker’s burgeoning Pok Pok empire (which have failed to set the town on fire so far), but it’s to old Thai Town you must go to experience the breadth of what LA has to offer. From Jitlada‘s legendary and expansive southern Thai menu to more abbreviated regional proffers at Pailin or Lacha Somtum, from boat noodles at Sapp to Muslim dishes at Kruang Tedd, Thai Town has enough to keep both the specialist and the generalist happy.

Into this thriving scene in late 2014 came a restaurant with probably the silliest name in all of LA, Luv2Eat Thai Bistro (though Yummy Yummy Tasty Thai of Aurora and then Louisville, CO has them beat). Luckily, the food is great and it is true that you will love to eat it. The chefs decamped from Hoy-Ka to open their own place (which was renovated in November of 2015) and, like their previous stop, Luv2Eat is located outside Thai Town proper—in their case, well outside it, in the tourist-heavy swamps of Sunset and Highland. It’s an odd location, and must be driven by an inability to find a space inside Thai Town. I say this because their food is uncompromising and cannot possibly be aimed at the passing foot-traffic that a location like this would normally be out to capture. Indeed, right by the door, pasted onto a refrigerator, is a warning about the heat level of the food and the risk of wastage if you’re unable to handle it.

And no, they’re not kidding about the heat. Not everything is hot, and of course you can ask for things to be made mild and medium as well, but some of the southern Thai dishes that are their specialty are apparently lethal (I say “apparently” only because we only had one of them) and approaching Jitlada levels of danger. And there isn’t a consistent heat scale for everything on the menu: we asked for everything that was meant to be hot to be hot but our waitress independently downgraded one of those to medium and it was far hotter than everything else and very close to the boundary of what I could handle without lots of chilled lager to help (alas, they don’t have a liquor license). It was a very good meal on the whole with a number of things that were just excellent.

On to what we ate!

Hat Yai Fried Chicken
Pork Liver Salad
Turmeric Chicken Soup
Massamun Curry with Chicken
Phuket Style Fish Curry Kanomjean
Please click on an image below to launch a slideshow with more details in the captions.

Not one thing was less than very good (well, the chicken was okay) and the fish curry, the turmeric soup and the massamun curry were excellent. All of this plus tax and tip came to about $63 and we took leftovers home. It was enough food for five adults, really. Apart from the crab/fish curry confusion, service was fine: attentive and helpful if you ask questions. Not that anyone in LA needs a Minnesota-based blogger to tell them what they already know, but if you haven’t gone yet you really should go. Word is their menu is going to expand to include more northern Thai dishes. Even if that hasn’t happened by the time we’re back in the summer we’ll be back for sure: we’ve not made much of a dent yet in what they already offer (here is the current menu: page 1 and page 2).


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THREAD MERGE PLEASE, mod.

mods be moderating.

We’ll be back in L.A for just over a week in early July. A return to Luv2Eat is all but certain. This is what we ate last time:

Hat Yai Fried Chicken
Pork Liver Salad
Turmeric Chicken Soup
Massamun Curry with Chicken
Phuket Style Fish Curry Kanomjean

What are four or five other dishes you’d recommend over all others?

Jade noodles with mixed bbq is my favorite dish there.

Just tried the zeed spare rib noodle soup–spectacular.

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jade noodles, shrimp paste fried rice, moo-ping, papaya salad with salted egg

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I went the other night and found the mixed bbq a bit lacking. Most likely an off night, but not one of the three cuts was that good. The fried version was so hard it could only be sucked on.

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twss

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tried to think of a better way to express my thoughts. gave up quickly. :slight_smile:

I see I never reported back on our lunch at Luv2Eat following the recommendations above. It was a very good meal again but didn’t quite wow us in the way our first meal there in January had. I finally got around to writing it up on the blog today. Here is the text portion of the review (pictures with some additional narrative in the captions are on the blog-- https://myannoyingopinions.com/2016/08/02/luv2eat-2/).


Our meal in January at Luv2Eat, the Thai restaurant in Hollywood that is currently the favourite of a large subset of the Angeleno foodie set, was so good that it (like Szechuan Impression and Mori) was one of the places we wanted to come back to for sure on this recent trip as well. We wanted to try more of their menu and see how deep their list of hits runs. Well, the meal certainly did not disappoint—everything was very good indeed—but we didn’t find it quite as excellent as our first meal six months ago. Part of this is probably due to the fact that our expectations were very high after that meal and it wasn’t possible for us to be surprised a second time; part of it has to do with the fact that a couple of our dishes were served somewhat toned down. At any rate, I’d still recommend Luv2Eat to anyone looking for excellent Thai food in Los Angeles, but perhaps not quite as breathlessly as I did in January.

For more detail on the restaurant, its location, and for pictures of the exterior and interior, please see my previous review. I am going to focus here on what we ate. It was the two of us with our boys in tow and, as at the last meal, we ordered five items. One of these was a dish we wanted to eat again for sure (the Phuket Style Fish Curry Kanomjean); the other four were recommendations from members of Food Talk Central who eat there often.

  1. Moo Ping: Grilled skewers of pork served with a sweet-tangy-spicy dipping sauce. These were primarily for the boys, in place of the regulation chicken satay we usually get for them at Thai restaurants, and they inhaled them. The bites I got were very good indeed, and the dipping sauce was great.

  2. Sparerib Zeed Noodle Soup: We were asked if we wanted this spicy and said yes. What we got was pretty mild. What we got was also not what we’d ordered. What we got was the regular Zeed Noodle Soup with Pork which comes with barbecued pork, meatballs and ground pork. It was good though and better kicked up a little with the crushed peppers at the table.

  3. Regular Shrimp Paste Fried Rice: There’s also a spicy version that’s served with a whole deep-fried mackerel but as we were hoping the boys would eat it we went for the milder version. It was quite good as well with the large number of condiments (including very nice, sticky-sweet-fatty porky bits) mixed in. As it happened, the smell of the fermented shrimp paste was not to the boys’ liking and they begged off after a few bites each. In hindsight we should have gotten the spicy rice for ourselves and they would have eaten the hell out of the deep-fried mackerel.

  4. Jade Noodle with 3 BBQ: Some folks on Food Talk Central seem to like this version better than that at Sapp (the previous champion in the category) but I can’t say I agree. Perhaps it would be different if two of the three meats weren’t a bit too dry. Also, with bbq pork, duck and crab, Sapp’s version has more going on than the triple pork version here.

  5. Phuket Style Fish Curry Kanomjean: This was one of our favourite dishes at our previous meal and we were looking forward to it. Luckily, it didn’t disappoint. At that meal we’d asked for it spicy and our waitress independently downgraded us to medium. Given that it was at the edge of my comfort zone that was probably a good thing. At this meal we accordingly asked for it at medium and it came out somewhere between medium and mild. Still quite good. And once again we ate it after dumping everything in the accompanying plate in and mixing it up. If this is the wrong way to eat it, please let me know.

And pictures (with some desultory narrative):

[ https://myannoyingopinions.com/2016/08/02/luv2eat-2/ ]

We arrived bang in the middle of the lunch hour on a Wednesday, by the way, and it was quite busy. In keeping with its out-of-Thai Town, tourist zone location, it had a more mixed crowd than you’d see at most Thai Town places (other than Jitlada), and at one point we had a family of Chinese tourists next to us who went down the menu like good Minnesotans, asking for every single thing if it was spicy (most of them settled on pad Thai, which I’m sure is very good here too). Due to the rush it took a little while to get our order in and service was a bit spotty in general—and see also the zeed noodle soup mixup and the issue with heat levels. The food itself, however, came out at a steady clip once the order was in.

Though I said above that this meal didn’t thrill quite as much as our outing in January, we did finish everything at the meal itself. This is largely because only one dish (the fish curry) was heavy, and partly because we are greedy. All of this plus tax and tip came to about $68, which remains a screaming deal in the larger scheme of things. I think we’ll go back to Jitlada and finally try Night+Market before coming back again to Luv2Eat.

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