Tuesday, December 27, 2005

The New MOCA Exhibit in Thai Town - "Hi" Thai Noodles Thai Town

My Dad (who speaks Thai) loves to go to Thai Town every once in a while to pick up some goods. Like what you ask? Mango and rice desserts. Soong Tum (papaya salad). Newspapers. Crickets. No joke, he bought some frozen crickets as a beer snack. And those Thai karaoke laserdisc/dvd’s. Oh god. I come back every weekend to see the parents and I always find my dad singing to his favorite Thai and Laotian songs with a 6-pack of MGD’s. Ghetto I know. But that’s what makes my dad happy. Sometimes you might catch me at a karaoke bar singing 80s songs with a 6-pack of MGD’s too. Like father, like son.

One thing prevalent within each Asian culture is the simple, yet comforting bowl of soup noodles. Chinese and Nu Ro Mian. Cantonese and Wonton Mien. Vietnamese and Pho. Koreans and Neng Myeon. Japanese and ramen/udon. I’d keep going but I really don’t know what kind of soup noodles Cambodians, Malaysians and Indonesians eat. For sure they have something though.

Dad: “What do you want to eat?”
Me: “Do you have to ask? You know what I always want.”
Dad: “Soup noodles it is.”

I like anything with beef and when I go for Thai food, I know I’m getting the Thai Boat noodles (Kuai Teow Reua); even before glancing at the sticky ass menus. Mmmmm. This was first created by boat peddlers who’d paddle up to you for direct service. Kinda like room service I guess. The cook would have a boiling pot of goodness and hand you the bowl of noodles for a small charge. If the service was bad, you could simply paddle away. At least you could see what the cooks were doing to your food since you were so close. No ‘behind-closed-doors’ mischief going on.

The reason we picked this place was because of its blatant advertising. As we were driving by slowly, our eyes caught the huge framed photos of their noodles. We parked and I started salivating for the Thai Boat noodles. Once I walked in I found myself staring at 6-7 framed photos. I thought to myself, “Are we in the museum of noodles?” It seriously looked like a museum exhibit with the huge 5’ x 3’ framed photos of the soup noodles. All they needed were those little white cards from the MOCA or LACMA to describe what I was staring at. And maybe have an usher posted by the wall warning visitors to refrain from taking photos. *Being a foodblogger, I can shoot photos withoutt flash while holding the camera under my armpit.

We sat down and were quickly greeted by the owner and given sticky menus. I rested my elbows on the sticky tables and saw that ‘Hi-Thai Noodle’ had a ‘Three-bowls-for $10’ deal. Dope. Problem was, it was only my Dad and I. Should we get the $10 deal and bring the third bowl home? We both got the “Beef and Beef Ball” soup noodle with a salted crab papaya salad to start out with. What the waiter brought out shocked me.

It was the tiniest bowl of soup noodles I’d ever seen. No wonder they were three-for-$10. If you ordered one bowl, you wouldn’t be full. If you ordered two bowls, you’re paying $8 for a regular sized bowl of noodles. Good thing about Hi-Thai is that they have quite a variety of soup noodles – beef, pork stew and seafood. Looking up at gallery pieces, you got a pretty clear idea what you were going to order. No need to lean over at the other table and spy.

The Thai Boat noodles tasted pretty good. Thai boat noodles, unlike Chinese beef noodles, have a thicker consistency in the broth. You can actually see that it’s made with a lot of beef stock because of the cloudiness. That’s a good sign. The slices of beef and beef balls were also quite tender and flavorful.

Still hungry, my Dad and I went for round 2. This time I ordered a fishcake and pork ball dried soup noodle. It had peanuts, fried garlic, cilantro, green onions and a little oil, which you mixed up. I loved it. My dad got this pork stew with rolled up noodles – resembling mini scrolls. It was sweet and heavy on star anise.

The Soong Tum papaya salad with salted blue crab was very good as well. Made with a lot of lime and fish sauce, it had a real kick to it. Not sure if many people know this, but Laotians also have a papaya salad with salted blue crab called “Dama Hoong”. It’s the same as the Thai version but with less of a sweet and sour taste. I prefer the Laotian version. Total for 4 mini-bowls of soup noodles and papaya salad came out to $22 without tip.

This was only my second stop in my search for good Thai Boat noodles and I’m sure there are better. Hi-Thai is open 24/7 and is on the corner of Hollywood and Harvard in Thai Town.

“Hi” Thai Noodle
5229 Hollywood Blvd. (c/o Harvard in Thai Town)
Hollywood, CA


Kirk said...

Hey Dylan - Looks good! I love Papaya Salad, and have just had Dama Hoong yesterday - the sauce is alot darker then what I'm used to for papaya salad, and there was alot of fish sauce!

yoony said...

hi dylan,

have you had kalgooksoo? now that stuff is comfort in a bowl. especially the chicken flavored one.

Erik M. said...

Try the kũay tĩaw reua (boat noodles) at Sapp Coffee Shop.


Try the sômtam puu dawng (papaya salad with pickled blue crab) at Ganda.



eatdrinknbmerry said...

Kirk, so do you see a major difference between thai and laotian food? i think laotian food is generally less sweet/sour? My dad has a few laotian places he goes to when he's down in SD.

yoony, i've only had neng myeon and jaampong soup noodles. does it have noodles in it? or is it just a soup/stew?

erik m.,
thanks. i read your postings on lthforum and will try Saap very soon. Atleast 5 other ppl have told me that they have the best Kuay Tiew Reua there.

Kirk said...

Hey Dylan - I agree, I also found that Laotian Food uses alot more fish sauce, and is alot more spicy then Thai Food. What Laotian Restaurants does your Dad frequent here? - I've only tried two - Sao Sang, and Vientiane in Lao Plaza. I know of one other Asia Cafe, but I haven't had a chance to visit. I really enjoy tam mak hung and think that Laotian Larb has much more flavor then the Thai(except Issan style Larb) versions I've had. So any places that you'd recommend, I'd appreciate.

eatdrinknbmerry said...

kirk, yeah laotian food uses more fish sauce and gup bee (salty shrimp paste... almost like a pasty demiglace sauce). i'm not sure that it's right in SD, it could be a county before SD, so i don't know the names. i just know that my parents consider it to be the best laotian food they can get in California. laotian larb is great, which is the minced version...i like the salad with sliced meat, forgot what it was called.

you're a true asian food-foodie, you're really open to try anything. i wish i knew more about cambodian, malaysian/indonesian and burmese food.

Passionate Eater said...

Sounds like great gourmet genes run in the family! Have a wonderful New Year Eat, Drink, & Be Merry!

elmomonster said...

This seems like a trend in Thai Town...the mini-plates, like Bua Siam's $2.50/plate meals. Gotta have more to get full, but it's a good primer for those wanting to explore.

J said...

hi dylan, everything looks fantastic...happy new year to you and your loved ones!

Blog Widget by LinkWithin