Mint & Basil
1741 N. Milpitas Blvd.
Milpitas, CA 95035
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!
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
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
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
I finally tried the well know Banana Bay in Rowland Heights during Memorial Day weekend, since my family was in the area househunting, as usual.
Ambiance: The restaurant’s fairly spacious, with a full bar and a stage where a live band plays every evening (according to my sources on Yelp). And there’s a huge aquarium at the entrance, which also doubles as a Thai snack shop.
Food: Fair enough, the waiters and servers were all Thai (or at least Thai-speaking), and the food was decently priced (mostly under $10 a dish). We ordered a Banana Bay special pad thai, which was NOT generous in portions. They were stingy on the shrimp, but the noodles were slightly undercooked, which is exactly how I like authentic pad thai, and the noodles were not totally greased up in oil.
Next came the Gulf of Siam, almost $10, overpriced, to say the least. All it was, despite its fancy menu description, was a fried egg, some stir fried seafood (mostly squid), and a small clump of steamed rice.
The seafood fried rice was similarly overpriced and came with a minimal amount of seafood. If there’s one thing I hate about restaurants, it’s small portions.
Humorously enough, though, the water is served in beer jugs.