Tuesday, August 22, 2006

The Hungry Zombies of Thai Town - Sanamluang, Thai Town

Last night, I went to the Troubadour in West Hollywood to see the French Kicks show. After a few beers, I was drunk and hungry. I met up with J around midnight to forage for some double dinner. We didn't feel like eating tacos and decided to continue our Thai Town spree. Yes, again I'm after the perfect bowl of Thai Boat Noodles, while J, is after a delectable bowl of BBQ Duck Noodles. This brings us to Sanamluang and it's bright neon-pink and yellow sign. It had the feel of a diner located in the middle of the "Nowhere Desert". Only their lights were working properly. It'd be cool if they strobed dysfunctionally, then it would've truly been an eerie dining experience.

Outside on the tarp, Sanamluang proclaims that they have "The Best Noodles In Town". Maybe it's a direct quote from LA Weekly food writer, Jonathan Gold. Whatever the case, I was even more interested in eating at this joint. I laugh everytime I drive by a divey hamburger joint that claims they have "World Famous Burgers". This would hold true if their world consisted of a few blocks on a busy street.

We walked in and I immediately felt a weird buzz. Not because I was drunk either. The fluorescent lights projected a yellowish hue in the restaurant. The patrons stared at us like zombies - eyes fixated on us, hands slowly bringing the soup spoons to their mouths without spilling. The employees walked around slowly - tired from a long day of hustling and bustling. There were only about 5 occupied tables and everyone was spaced out. Definitely odd. Not as odd as a hospital cafeteria though.

The waitress handed us sticky menus. But again, we knew what we wanted. Here's what we had:

Thai Boat Noodle Soup
This massive bowl of noodles arrived within 7 minutes. A hot, steaming bowl of noodles, beef parts, green onions/cilantros and brothy goodness ladeled into a tacky-looking bowl. The bowl looked like it was the same ones used back in the late 80s/early 90s - possibly when they first opened. A pattern that was similar to one of Parker Lewis's many rayon dress shirts. J noticed that "Krua Thai" was written on the 80s artifact. Krua Thai is a Thai restaurant in North Hollywood, and purportedly serves up some of the best Pad Thai in LA. I don't care for Pad Thai so I won't bother challenging them. The owner of Sanamluang obviously runs Krua Thai as well. Back to the soup. Wow, this really smelled good. Things are tastier when you're drunk, but I had J try it out too. The soup was somewhat sour - more than usual. The noodles were cooked beautifully yet the portions of beef were sparse. I like a place that serves an equal balance of components - right amount of soup, noodles, garnishes and meat. This bowl was purely noodles and soup. For sure this bowl of TBN beats Red Corner Asia's. As of now, here are my rankings for Thai Boat Noodles:

#1 - Sapp Coffee Shop
#2 - Yai Thai Restaurant
#3 - Sanamluang
#4 - Red Corner Asia

BBQ Duck Noodles
J forgot to specify that she wanted yellow egg noodles. We were quite surprised that it came with thick white rice noodles - never seen it before. There was also NO SIGN OF SAUCE. Most places I've eaten at come with just a little bit of duck flavored broth - not here. The waitress was quite surprised with our request for a small bowl of broth. We saw her speaking to the chef and the chef gave us a look. Not a good sign. A chef on a bad day could add his own personal garnish if he wanted to. I could see that J wasn't too thrilled with the noodles so we switched. Either way, I was fine. I was buzzing and hungry haha. This dish came with a nice portion of fatty/savory pieces of duck. It was good.

I think this will be my new late night choice. This or Palm's - both will be good. Thanks for reading.

Sanamluang Cafe
5176 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 660-8006


Passionate Eater said...

I thought I was gonna be the first one to comment, but Jeni already commented on Noodle Whore, the alternative universe of your posts!

Pretty cool that you can get buzzed with no alcohol. That in and of itself makes Sanamluang a place to go back to! But for future visits, it seems like you'd have to order the moistening broth beforehand.

Passionate Eater said...

Do you prefer being called "the Noodle Whore" or "EDNBM"? I really like the new name, but I also like the old one. Or, I guess I'll just keep the same names for the different sites.

Anonymous said...

you must try the chicken noodle soup at sanamluang and add some of the chili peppers in vinegar. SO good and very good post-drinking meal. I also like their pad kee mow but it can be a little too spicy at times.

Daily Gluttony said...

i went here once & i gotta say i really wish i had a better experience! everyone always gives it so many props but here's what happened:

1) i touched the side/underside of my chair to scoot it up and all this sticky stuff got on my hand. now you know i'm all for the nasty, hole in the wall places but i gotta draw the line somewhere.

2) we ordered some kind of soup noodles & an order of crispy pork w/ chinese broccoli. they were just *eh* neither dish seemed to have too much flavor.

i'd give them another chance though--maybe we just didn't order the right thing!

eatdrinknbmerry said...

PE, any type of broth is good when you've done a little partying. It flushes out the system. You can just say ED&BM on this site, and NW on the other one.

Anon, that sounds really good too. I used to do the vinegar/chili pepper thing but can't anymore. My tolerance for spiciness has really gone down the tubes. After the TBNoodle spree, i'm doing the stir-fried noodles such as pad kee mow.

DG, I had TBnoodles set in my mind and Jeni with her BBQ Duck noodles. We are looking for the restaurant that serves the best of those dishes. Of course Sanamluang has dishes their known for, but in this case, they didn't beat Sapp or Yai w/ the noodles we like. I don't even wanna know what kind of 'substance' that was under the table. As a rule, I try not to touch the sides of chairs or the undersides of tables haha. I just eat on the sticky tables.

Why We Type said...

When I moved to LA 13 years ago, I lived just a few blocks away from Sanamluang--and I was poor. This meant I ate there religiously. It was already cool then, and always crowded, but it hadn't quite reached it's cult that it has today.

The reason I had to comment was, that after not having eaten there for maybe five years (?) your description of the place absolutely NAILS my recollection of it. There is a weird buzz there, everyone looks at you when you walk in (can't blame 'em, it's so small), the menus are sticky, the plastic plates are overcolored, yet faded too. Service was a decidedly hand-signal and pointing affair, but the food was always soul-satisfying, exotic (to me), and memorable. Whereever else I go, I order stir-fried beansprouts, which is typically off-menu, because I love 'em with a mountain of white rice, and it reminds me of my Sanamluang days.

rick james said...

yo noodle whore,

this is our usual late night in hollywood nothing else is open but its way better than denny's hangout...

good eats... shitty parking

monkey_see said...

Here's a little secret.

When I was in college we ALWAYS took our friend from Hong Kong. Kalvin would always order in Chinese and we NEVER had any trouble with service. When I was in Japan (okinawa and the big Island) I found MANY little spots that reminded me of this joint.
It's what Late Night Dinner Diving is all about.

Blog Widget by LinkWithin