Just about everyone has been to Ruen Pair before, but there might as well be a central thread for it no?
Panang Curry w/ Fried Tofu
I arrived to my friend already tucking into panang with fried tofu. They nail the tofu making it a bit chewy, a bit crispy, and perfect for soaking in the curry. The nuttiness, slight sweetness and savor of Ruen Pair’s panang has always been my favorite rendition of the dish in Thai town, bested only by the absurdist tendon version at Night + Market.
Spicy Raw Shrimp Salad
Made Thai spicy this is a beautiful, beautiful salad. The shrimp gets cooked slightly as in a great augachile and yields a creamy texture that is still toothsome set against the crisp cabbage and intensely acidic bite of the chile sauce. A truly wondrous example of textural contrasts and flavors as well as heat that makes Thai cuisine one of my favorites. To be able to get a raw seafood dish this good at 2 am is just remarkable.
Ruen Pair’s pork jerky is crispier than most versions around town as well as less saccharine. This makes it my favorite version that I have had since it allows the blistered pork fat to create a more savory sensation that is balanced by the heat and acid of the accompanying sauce; the effect is quite addictive.
Salty Turnip and Egg
Perhaps the most humble dish on Ruen Pair’s expansive menu, and yet also perhaps its best. Essentially a fritatta of salty turnips that are like more savory/salty papaya strands, when paired with a bit of rice and ample amounts of the tableside pepper vinegar sauce there is something transcendent in the elemental experience of crisped edges of egg, salt, funk, and acid that is unlike any other Thai dish I’ve tried.
Ah Ruen Pair…truly not somewhere that doesn’t require review, but it’s fun nonetheless. It remains one of the top places in my mind that I think of when I miss LA, or think about what makes LA such a wonderful city to currently be in.