Mint & Basil
1741 N. Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
Ever since I booked flights to Bangkok, I had my eyes and stomach set on visiting Thip Samai, perhaps Bangkok’s most famous noodle institution, known for one dish and one dish only: pad thai.
Who comes to Thailand to eat pad thai, quite possibly the most pedestrian of Thai dishes anyway? But Thip Samai is outstanding, as evidenced by the huge crowds (locals and foreigners alike) that form every afternoon, even before the restaurant opens its doors.
Olarn Thai Cuisine
19672 Stevens Creek Blvd
Cupertino, CA 95014
I was craving tom kha soup so boyfriend took me to this place in Cupertino. We ordered tom kha soup for 2, roti panang, pad see ew with beef and pineapple fried rice. The tom kha soup was really good, although I wished they had an option to add seafood. Roti panang was good too! The pad see ew was sweet like I how I like it. I was unimpressed by the pineapple fried rice, it just tasted like regular fried rice with pineapple chunks in it, and it didn’t have raisins. Thai iced tea was pretty good, it came separated, like it should, and I mixed it myself.
I’d like to come back to try some other dishes, but if anything, I’ll just default to going to Krung Thai in San Jose.
Happy new year, everyone!
Hello everyone 🙂
Let’s continue with my Asia trip recap. After spending a couple of days in Bangkok, we flew to Phuket. Phuket is known for being a beautiful ocean-side city. Our hotel had a wonderful view, and we were only a 5 minute walk from the beach. Phuket is a lot more chill, in terms of the food scene. You’re not going to find a lot of food stalls on the streets. However, you will find that the streets are packed with outdoor restaurants and indoor restaurants.
What I loved most about Phuket was the fresh seafood. We took advantage of how cheap seafood was there, and ate seafood every day. Fresh caught fish, crab, shrimp, and more. It was amazing. Unfortunately, I don’t have too many pictures of the seafood we ate, because some nights we got back quite late from traveling around, that we just wanted to dig in once the food arrived.
When I say that seafood is cheap, it really is. You could pay around $8-$10 for a 2-3 lb crab, which is an amazing deal! So, if you’re in Phuket, take advantage of the seafood here. It’s the best steal!
I want to apologize for the lack of pictures from Phuket. Really, it was difficult to document everything and every time. However, I promise the next leg of the trip will be a lot better.
After Phuket, we traveled back to Bangkok for one night and then flew out to Indonesia the next morning. I was able to visit a lot of family in Indonesia and it was fun.
I have to apologize in regards to recapping my Indonesian trip. Unfortunately, I was quite sick while I was there and was on bed rest for several days. I didn’t get to eat a lot of different foods, because I hardly ate. I didn’t get sick because of the food there or anything like that. It was just a combination of things that left me on bed rest for a while. However, please don’t let that deter you from trying out some of Indonesia’s best dishes!
After Indonesia, I traveled to Singapore for a day. It was quite a short trip, so there isn’t much to document on. I spent that time shopping and just visiting the Marina Bay.
So, for the next recap, I will be recapping my trip in Japan.
Look forward to it!
Tokyo, here we come 🙂
As promised, I’ve finally had the chance to sort through all of my photos from my Asia trip from a few weeks ago. I’ve been trying to decide how I should share my short adventure through Asia with you all. I’ve decided to just do a short recap of my trip and just let the pictures speak for themselves. As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” so let’s get started!
(Warning: picture heavy post)
My first stop in Thailand was in Bangkok. This city was full of life and a whole lot of traffic–this was foreshadowing the terrible traffic that would be had when I reached Indonesia. One of the things I noticed the most was that there were billboards with advertisements featuring some of my favorite K-pop boys: 2pm, Super Junior, Big Bang, and more! Certainly I was in Asia, and slightly closer to my K-pop biases.
I won’t get into too much details in terms of places I visited and what I did specifically, day by day, however, I did visit the Imperial Palace, Sleeping Buddha, Temple of the Dawn, and the infamous Floating market. Our hotel was right across from the World Center, a very large shopping complex, bigger than any mall in the United States. When you exit the hotel, you’ll notice a whole different world– a food filled world.
There were food stalls lined up on every street. It stretched for what seemed like forever. In between each food stall or cart, there were small vendors, selling trinkets, make up, shirts, bootlegged bags, and much much more. It was simply amazing!
The thing I LOVED the most about Thailand was the fact that you could get homemade quality food for such a good price! Most of my meals ranged from 20 baht to 55 baht, which is about $1 to $4. I could not believe how cheap food was here.
Okay, I have to say, I was really scared about eating in Asia, because I have the weakest stomach of our group. Nicole is known to have the stomach of steel, but when it comes to me, I’m like Ross from “Friends”–I bruise like a peach. It’s sad, I know. I was super paranoid about what I would eat from the streets of Thailand. I had told myself “only hot food!” So, the first morning, I was quite cautious in terms of what I would eat. However, as the day went on, I couldn’t resist anymore. I didn’t care whether I got food poisoning or not! There was just too much good food everywhere! I mean, EVERYWHERE!!!!!
So, maybe I went a little overboard and ate like there was no tomorrow (my stomach was happy for a while, until the weight gain settled in). I was quite surprised to find that I did not get sick at all! The main reason for this is that Thailand is incredibly clean! Cleaner than Indonesia that’s for sure. I didn’t get bit by any mosquitoes while I was in Bangkok, nor did I see a lot of flies flying around near the food. Everything I ate, surprisingly went down with no problems. No stomach issues. No achy tummy. Nope. Nothing. It was just, food heaven for me!
We didn’t get to stay too long in Bangkok, because we had to fly out to Phuket after a couple of days. So, let me just leave you with some pictures from my Bangkok adventure, and stay tuned for more adventures through Asia!
Next up: Phuket, Thailand!
After failing to find interesting dishes at the Songkran festival (documented here), my friend and I decided to eat at a sit-down place, Sapp Coffee Shop, a pretty prominent Thai food landmark in the area.
Sapp Coffee Shop is in a strip mall on Hollywood Blvd. It’s nondescript on the outside and similarly plain on the inside. At the recommendation of one of Alvin’s friends, we decided to try this place for ourselves.
Once inside, I was immediately taken back to Thailand (the King’s portrait is found in practically every shop). There are portraits of Thai kings hanging from practically all four walls. I won’t say anything critical about the Thai king (god forbid I fall foul of Thailand’s insanely strict lese majeste laws, which makes criticisms of the King or Crown Prince punishable with up to 25 years in prison), but Thailand’s monarchy has been able to cultivate a god-like aura surrounding the King by capitalizing on the country’s otherwise weak democratic institutions.
Sapp offers a variety of dishes not normally seen at Thai restaurants, including boat noodle soup. Everything is pretty cheap too ($5-7 per dish)! Another plus in my book.
We split the Thai boat noodles, noodles served in a rich and spicy broth of pork blood, innards and topped with fried pork skin, meat balls, and slices of pork. Found throughout Thailand as a street food, it has an interesting taste profile: spicy, sweet, salty and sour, all at once. Both of us weren’t exactly awed by the noodle soup. It was alright, but I didn’t like the noodles. I personally prefer Pa Ord Noodle (on Sunset), which allows you to customize the order (they offer 4 types of noodles). Sorry, Sapp!
(Apparently the dish people rave about is the boat noodle soup with beef, but since I don’t eat beef, I don’t have much of an opinion to offer.)
We also split the seasoned duck noodle soup, another common Thai street dish, made with a soy sauce base. Okay, not gonna lie, I was really disappointed with the portion size. The dish came with a measly four duck slices, and the broth to noodle ratio was pretty extreme.
Considering how salty duck noodle soup is, it’s not like I could have downed the broth alone. And yes, the dish was too salty for my sensitive taste buds. No go.
As for drinks, I was tempted by the cheap prices ($2), so we got a longan juice drink (listed as num lum yai) and Thai iced coffee, as the Thai iced tea had run out for the day.
P.S. Thanks for the pics, Alvin (even though I took most of them.)
Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
The Southeast Asian New Year (more specifically the traditional new year of Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos) is in mid-April, based on the lunar calendar. Its origins are rooted in Hindu traditions, but nowadays, the holiday is deeply woven in with Theravada Buddhist rituals. (Also, nowadays, a lot of hardcore partying occurs during this festival. Alcohol, drugs and all that jazz, especially in cities.)
Earlier this year, I went with Alvin to the Songkran festivities in LA’s Thai Town, taking the 302 Metro line to the event. There were a lot of food stands, a lot of craft stands, and a lot of ‘traditional’ activities as well.
This Burmese commercial, for another festival, depicts the practice of veneration, minus the commercial content.
One of the major merit-making activities to perform during the New Year is to venerate the Buddha and to venerate one’s elder family members. The Burmese venerate their parents and grandparents by kneeling on the floor and bowing thrice, much in the same way they do to the Buddha. I suppose it reinforces a rigid social hierarchy much in the same way vassal states “venerated” the central power in pre-colonial times.
I bathed a Buddha statue at one of the stands, for myself and for my parents~ There were also several Thai temples who set up stands, with monks chanting nonstop.
There were some traditional crafts on display there as well. A woman at one of the stands was stringing together flower garlands called malai. The only reason I even remember this word is because the Burmese equivalent is almost identical, as both words have etymological origins in Pali, an Indian language. I picked up pretty desk calendars from the Thai Tourism booth as well. Singha Beer also passed out cute headgear.
An overwhelming number of the food stands were selling the same exact items: satay, papaya salad and pad thai (and more unusually, orange chicken). The preexisting Thai restaurants nearby offered a superior and perhaps more “authentic” selection. The items were a overpriced too. DISLIKE.
We got chicken and pork satay kabobs, as well as a Thai sausage on a stick. I personally thought the meat was too dry. And no complementary peanut sauce. 😦
Another favorite: payaya salad. From the way they were making it, it looked to be made in the Isaan (Northern Thai) style. I didn’t like how monstrous the cabbage slices were. But it was sufficiently spicy and tasty. We also shared a grilled banana sticky rice dessert. It looks sort of like Chinese zongzi (粽子) or a miniature version of Vietnamese banh chung (side note: Nicole, I will never forget those blissful moments I engorged myself on the banh chung you brought back to the dorms), but the sticky rice is much finer (almost pureed), and the inner filling is sweet.
Disappointed in the food stands and the long lines, we decided to eat a complete meal at Sapp’s Coffee Shop, a pretty well-known landmark also on Hollywood Blvd.
P.S. Thanks for the photos, AC.
Thai Town Songkran Festival
Thai Town, Los Angeles, CA
Last Friday, Josie and I drove over to UCLA to attend our friends’ graduations. It was sort of bittersweet, as it marked the end of our close friends’ undergraduate journey at UCLA. Time flies by so quickly. It was just last year that I sat in those same exact seats, waiting to turn my tassel.
To celebrate Michelle’s graduation, we decided to eat at Siam Chan, after deliberating on a handful of different Thai restaurants in the West LA area. I was a bit skeptical, as the average yelp rating for the place was 3.5 stars, respectable but not spectacular.
The seating space was tiny, a bunch of tables crammed into a room probably the size of a small living room. We waited for a few minutes outside as the waiters reconfigured the tables to seat our party of 5.
All of us, famished and a bit dazed, quickly made our orders and awaited the food’s arrival. The menu offerings are typical for any Thai restaurant. There’s also a dinner special (for $10) that comes with Thai iced tea, shrimp fried rice, egg and salad), for a limited selection of entrees.
The Thai iced tea that Josie and I ordered arrived first. It was more milk than tea, and I could barely taste the brewed black tea (as the above photo illustrates–well-made Thai tea is dense with a strong brew of black tea, almost pitchblack at the bottom).
Josie ordered the spicy fried rice. Unfortunately, the restaurant had run out of mint, so the dish felt like it was missing something. The fried rice came in generous portions, but was not spicy, as the misleading name implied.
One of our friends, Janet, ordered a classic, the pad see ew, pan-fried rice noodles with beef.
The vegetarian in our group (and c/o 2012 grad), Michelle, was split on getting a vegetable curry or a red curry. She opted for a red curry, which comes separately with the rice. I honestly dislike restaurants that charge separately for bowls of rice, especially for dishes that, by default, are eaten with rice. Who the hell eats curry without rice? -_-
The eldest (also graduating this year with a Master’s!), Rosalie, ordered another classic Thai dish, rad na (also known as lad na), stir-fried rice noodles drenched in a starchy gravy. ‘Twas alright. Just your average rad na.
I tried to be a bit adventurous and ordered the jun pu, described on the menu as “Thai rice noodles pan-fried with real crab meat, egg, onion and chili.” First, the portion sizes were measly, fit for a kid’s menu. Second, where was all the “real” crab meat? Third, where did all the chili go? The noodles were not spicy at all. The dish was lackluster. It tasted like pad thai, except more sour-sweet and soggy from all the oil. I wouldn’t have guessed it was pan-fried.
All in all, Siam Chan was just okay. It delivered what I expected from the 3.5 star rating on Yelp, but I can’t complain about the price. There are plenty of other Thai places in West LA that provide tastier Thai.
P.S. Shout out to UCLA’s class of 2012! Congratulations Michelle, Rosalie, Laurie, Alvin and everyone else~!
1611 Colby Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025
So I’ve been meaning to write this review for the longest time, and I’ve been lagging it, despite the fact that I’ve gone here on multiple occasions.
I came here multiple times with different people. I’ve had mixed comments about this place, but overall, it’s a keeper for me, despite some turn-offs.
I want to mention that the co-owner of Factory Tea Bar is a friend of a close family friend of mine. When she saw me post a pic of my strawberry milk tea on facebook, she immediately commented, asking me if I saw her friend. It’s easy to spot him. He’s this Thai guy, who usually wears high water jeans, a black v-neck shirt, and is sporting huge-spiky, gelled hair. He’s really nice and always greets the customers with a smile.
The reason why I put this under so many different categories, is because of the different influences, and simply because I’m not too sure if it’s just one particular thing. Just know, it’s not your average tea house, but it’s a tea house.
I’ve tried various drinks from Factory Tea bar, including: green tea, strawberry milk tea, and passion green tea. My favorite has to be the strawberry milk tea (I’m a sucker for all things strawberry). The boba is chewy, sweet, and is a nice warm contrast to the cold drinks.
In terms of food, they offer a number of snacks. Amongst the ones I’ve tried, including fried cuttlefish and fried chicken, I’ve officially found my favorite. I am in love with the factory tea bar brick toast. Not to be confused with the amazingness of Guppy Tea House’s coconut brick toast, this brick toast is a different kind but is still good on its own. They take a brick toast, cut out the center portion, leaving the crust. In the center of the crust outline, they put four scoops of ice cream in the middle, then drizzle the whole thing with chocolate and caramel. It’s amazing! Every now and then I crave this, and try to sucker my friends into coming here with me just to get this.
Gah, talking about the brick toast makes me want to get it again. =( no bueno. The brick toast is around $6-7, and the drinks can range from $2.50 and above.
This place is cash only kiddos, so be prepared.
Also they offer free wifi, and they have these cool short tables, where you sit on bean bag chairs. If you’re not into bean bag chairs, they do have couches and normal tables where you could sit at.
Okay, my pet peeve about this place: the kids. The location is close to San Gabriel High, so be careful of the time of day in which you choose to visit. You might get swarmed by high school kids, so avoid those peak hours if you’re looking for a place to just chill quietly.
Overall, I love Factory Tea Bar. I only wish that it was closer to me!
323 S Mission Dr
San Gabriel, CA 91776
My friend and I walked a few blocks after Dine LA at The Hungry Cat (review here) to pay this dessert shop a visit, a gem I found on Yelp. Called “Baan Kanom Thai,” literally “House of Thai Sweets” (I know this much from my one quarter of Thai 1), it’s embedded in a typical Socal plaza, wedged in between a string of Thai businesses.
Their name to fame are these so-called “crispy pancakes” (khanom bueang, ขนมเบื้อง), a typical street snack found readily throughout Thailand (and also Burma, where they’re called khauk mont). They’re bite-sized and thin wafer-like confections, filled with coconut cream, shredded coconut and some strips of egg yolk. After being cooked, they’re folded into twos, like hard shell tacos. They’re sort of pricey (~$5 for 12 pieces), but boy are they delicious. They had an appetizing jasmine aroma to them too.
We also tried their grilled banana cake, made of sticky rice, filled in with some mushed bananas, and grilled in some banana leaves. It was pleasantly textured and the individual rice grains couldn’t even be discerned.
The shop sells a variety of other desserts, ice cream, cookies and more. I also bought a box of Durian toffees on another trip there. They make pretty good snacks.
Address: 5271 Hollywood Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90027 | Yelp
I’m not a fan of upscale Thai restaurants, but Saladang Song is indeed a nice place to dine. My mom enjoys eating here because of the ambiance and atmosphere, with Thai pop ballads humming in the background. There’s a large industrial/urban-style courtyard that has a lot of outdoor seating. And everyone’s seated in wicker chairs.
The food’s a bit on the expensive side, especially considering that there are far better deals in the 626. Nothing special about it, from pad see ew to ba mee. Portions are decent, but nothing was particularly memorable.
Kuay tiow: Thai noodle soup with fish balls and wontons
Khao ga pao: Stir-fried pork with chili and basil
Khanom jeen sao nam: Rice vermicelli with pineapple, garlic, coconut cream, ginger, dried chili and fish balls.
Nam prik Saladong Song: Grilled salmon served with a dip of kiwi fruit, mushroom, garlic, onion and chili and vegetables
Map: 383 S Fair Oaks Ave. Pasadena, CA 91105 | Yelp
Thai Moon Restaurant
Last Tuesday I went to UCLA to pick up my diploma with Justin. W00t! It’s official 🙂
While we were there we visited Nicole and went out to lunch at a Thai restaurant near Westwood, on Westwood boulevard. It is in a small plaza near the Penguins Ice Cream Shop.
We were the only ones in there when we first arrived, which was fine. I like catching up with friends without being stuck in an overcrowded restaurant. We ordered 4 dishes: Pork Ribs, Thai Boat Noodles, Chicken Yellow Curry(not pictured), and Mango Sticky Rice.
The pork ribs were the first to come out. It comes on a plate with four sizeable ribs. If I were to eat this by myself without ordering anything else, I don’t think it would be enough for me. The flavor reminds me of American style ribs. Honestly it wasn’t anything special.
My favorite dish was the one that Justin ordered. It was the Thai Boat Noodles. The noodles are fried and crispy, and it lays on a bed of this yellow, sweet sauce. It comes with chicken and red onions. When you mix it all together, you get this great flavor. I love the crunch of the noodles, and also the texture of when it soaks in the yellow sauce. I don’t know if it’s a curry sauce.. it didn’t have a super strong curry taste to it. I wish I could describe it better, but I think Justin could.
We also had yellow curry, which was not in any way memorable. Disappointing to say the least.
The mango sticky rice was wonderful. I love the flavor of the rice, and the mangoes were all ripe and sweet. My only problem with this dish was the proportions. I like a lot of sticky rice as opposed to mangoes in my dish. So I was disappointed by the amount we got.
Overall, not too bad when you sit in. I’ve read reviews about their take out being slow. It is a small restaurant, probably not good for large crowds. Also, it does take time for the food to come out.
Try it out.
2180 Westwood Blvd Unit 1G
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Neighborhood: West Los Angeles
Quick Recipes for Parties: Thai Chicken Wrap
- 1 head of Butter Lettuce
- 2 cucumbers sliced thinly
- Carrots (julienne cut)
- bean sprouts
- Peanut butter (for peanut sauce)
- 2 tbs of water
- 2 tbs of vinegar
- 1 tbs of sugar
- 2 tbs toasted sesame
- Teriyaki Chicken
My family hosted a Thanksgiving party at our home this year. I guess we’re known for hosting parties, but we don’t do Thanksgiving parties every year. Anyway, this year I helped my mom prep a lot of different dishes including a turkey, mashed potatoes, chicken pot pie soup, biscuits, and this dish— Thai Chicken wrap.
This dish is simple and easy to prepare. I know how stressful party planning can be, and sometimes you just don’t have enough time to prepare a lot of food. So this dish is really great, because it has a great shortcut to it and I’m sure a lot of people will love it. It was a great hit at our Thanksgiving party.
One of the key things to this dish is that you don’t have to make the teriyaki chicken from scratch. If you have time to do so, or prefer to do so, then go for it. However, we didn’t have time to make it from scratch, so we bought the frozen kind you can get at Sam’s club. It was decently priced, around $11. Just heat it up and slice up the chicken before you serve the dish.
Another key thing to this dish is the type of lettuce you use. Butter lettuce is preferred because it is able to form a wrap more readily than other types of lettuce, and it has a nice flavor and crunch to it.
The cucumbers were sliced thinly and marinated in a vinegar, sugar sauce. We also made a peanut sauce to go with this dish. Just take 1-2 tbs of peanut butter (creamy or chunky, whichever you prefer) and add 2 tbs of water. Sometimes you’ll require more, depending on the consistency you prefer for your sauce. Heat it up in the microwave for about 15 seconds, and then whisk the sauce together. You can add garlic chili to the sauce for an extra kick, but I left it out for those who can’t handle spicy foods. Also you can add 1/2 tbs of sesame oil to the sauce and 1/2 tbs of sugar as well. Adjust to your taste, depending on the amount you make.
I really like this dish, because it’s interactive as well. People can choose what they want in their wrap, and choose the amount that goes in as well. This is a really quick recipe/dish that you could serve at any party, with minimal preparation.
Try it out at your next party!
Mango Sticky Rice!
This post is for Justin haha. For Father’s day my friends and I had a bbq for our parents and one of the parents brought this item over, and it was sooo good! The rice was perfectly sticky without being mushy, the coconut milk was just sweet enough too compliment the fresh and ripe mangoes, plus the sesame seeds added that extra crunch and flavor ahhh….I couldn’t stop eating it. Definitely going to steal the recipe from her haha.
Sorry for the bad quality, most of these pictures are taken on my phone. Hope you all had a wonderful Father’s day too!