I feel like if I want Isaan, I go to Isaan Station or Kruang Tedd, if I want Northern, it’s Pailin or Spicy BBQ and if I want Southern it’s Luv2Eat or Jitlada but Central food is so common that I don’t really know any good places that serve standout versions. Ruen Pair?
I love the Pad Kee Mao at Pailin if you can catch them on a day when they use holy basil but that has historically been a crapshoot for me and I know people rave about the Massaman curry at Luv2Eat but I found it too sweet.
People who know more about Thai than me: are some of the more interesting dishes at Ruen Pair, like the Chinese pork and Olive or the turnip and egg Central Thai cooking?
It’s Thai-Chinese most likely Chiu Chow. Bangkok does have a high population of Thai-Chinese, but not exclusive to that city. The South also has a lot of Thai-Chinese (Luv2Eat ladies are Thai-Chinese).
The Salty Turnip Egg and Water Spinach with bean sauce and lots of garlic with a bowl of Khao Tom!!!
Thai-Chinese is stereotypically associated with Central style but so are curries like Gaeng Som/Sour Curry with Cha Om omelette, and Green Curry. Tom Yum Goong and Tom Kha Gai are some other popular Central dishes.
If you notice the above dishes all try to incorporate a balance of sweet, sour, salty, and spicy/hot.
Steamed jasmine rice with lots of dishes and a soup would be a stereotypical Central family meal.
Ruen Pair is a good example!
Have you been to Yai’s?
You can order up a Sour Curry, Green Curry, Tom Yum, Water Spinach with or without Crispy Pork, some type of Thai-Chinese omelette.
Siam Sunset covers the breakfast side. You mentioned Spicy BBQ as a Northern specialist but they also have a really good Gaeng Som, one of the workers there is from Central I believe.
Have you had the Buried Chicken at Kruang Tedd?
I haven’t been to Yai’s, but I’ll definitely check it out! I love Siam Sunset! the porridge and the hainan chicken rice are two of my absolute favorites.
Thank you for your recs. What are things to look for when evaluating Central Thai? Is is the balance of flavors that you were talking about? Would you say that Central Thai is more about achieving that balance than, say something like Isaan where the flavors may be more funky?
Is the buried chicken the Khao Mok Gai? If so it’s one of my favorite things to get at KT along with the crispy rice salad and the oxtail soup.
Which Yai’s do you like it seems like there is one on Vermont and one on Hollywood?
haven’t been to the one on hollywood for almost five years, but liked our meals there a lot then.
Are there really restaurants in LA (or OC) that specialize in Central Thai cuisine?
Seems like most places do Northern Thai, and a few do Southern Thai, and both types of places have various types of Central Thai dishes (like Massman Curry) but I can’t really wrap my mind around a place that specializes in Central Thai.
That seemed to be my impression too, like they have Central Thai dishes because that is what most of the people are familiar with/expect from a Thai restaurant but no one seems to really highlight it.
I mean, I think you could argue that any Thai place on the westside, like Emerald Thai for example, “specializes” in Central Thai cuisine, because most of their stuff like tom yum, tom kha, pad thai, green curry etc is Bangkok style, right? I can’t argue that those kinds of places are any good or that they aren’t trying to cater to western palates, but couldn’t you say that they are essentially “Central Thai” restaurants?
But even if you can’t think of a Central Thai specialist, are there any Thai places that just do good versions of Central Thai dishes? Like a particularly spectacular tom yum, or pad kee mao or even a pad thai (is there such a thing?)
Yes sweet, sour, spicy/hot, and salty.
Although different dishes characterize Central cooking.
But you can’t forget the stir fry noodle dishes, noodle soups, and homestyle Thai-Chinese.
I only eat at the Hollywood Blvd location of Yai’s.
Yup that Buried Chicken! It really is a special dish because I don’t think anyone is doing it. The green-mint-herb sauce is out of this world good.
Have you been to Kim Thai Food??? I hear it is one of the best places for Isaan food. I like a meal of gai yang, sticky rice and papaya salad at Isaan Station but Kim’s goes deeper.
Braised pork leg/duck leg in a 5 spice based sauce served with steamed rice, mustard greens, and a boiled egg with some chile vinegar garlic sauce.
Also very common Central dish…a little Chinese influence hitting all those diffferent flavor profiles.
Love that at Siam Sunset. The special chili vinegar you get with it there is one of my top sauces
Yai’s Crispy Pork and Chinese Broccoli (or Chinese Water Spinach) comes with that chile vinegar sauce. Don’t forget the fried egg! I think Yai’s does this dish the best.