Just kidding... they aren't THAT small. Just wanted to bring to light, some of my favorite soup noodles from the Thai Town area in Hollywood. When I was writing the Noodle Whore blog, I started out researching the Thai Town area – places like Yai, Sanamluang, Sapp Coffee Shop and Rodded were definitely popular. In a matter of 5 years, my dad (Noodle Whore Sr.) and I have seen Thai Town change quite a bit. A few changes in ownership and new chefs really kept it dynamic. So it's not a wonder that I, maybe you as well, jump around the restaurants a lot in Thai Town. In my opinion, one thing remains true though. Besides the spicy curries, hand-mixed food, soups and stir-fries, the Thais are outstanding at producing tasty soup noodles. And it's why I continue to eat here at least twice a month.
It was only a few years ago that Thai Town introduced their version of a Jack-in-the-Box/Burger King slider, or as they call it Mini Sirloin and Burger Shots. My Dad said that I was being too much of a fat, greedy, over-consuming American because this is how they do it in Asia – smaller bowls. Face it, we all like miniature things. As much as I hold myself back in using the C-word, miniature things are CUTE. And I think the same thing can be said about these smaller bowls of soup noodles – or as I call them, Diet Soup Noodles. It's not that they are healthier in any way, it's just that you get a smaller serving. For anyone that enjoys soup noodles, this is great because you can try more than one type of noodle each time you visit. Or you can be a Debbie-downer-pessimist and see that you're actually spending more money for two miniature bowls than a regular sized bowl. Whatever the case, your stomach will thank you.
Ode to Ord
This place has always been solid. The crowd here is typically younger and the clientele primarily speak Thai. At any time of the day, you can find yourself bobbing your head to Thai R&B slow jams busting out from the mini stereo system here. Ord has also started closing daily at midnight – oh joy.
They have 4-5 different types of noodles you can pick from in the mini $3 bowl category. Not everything is offered in a midget form, just a few. Most people come here for the Crispy Pork & Basil Rice and Thai Boat noodles, but Ord prides itself most on these noodles called hoy khaa. Literally, it means 'dangling feet noodles'. Don't worry, the cooks weren't soaking their feet in your broth, it's a reference to the makeshift-seating at this particular noodle shop along the rivers in Thailand. I believe Ord is the name of the city this family is from. When you go in, look at the photos of the dangling feet and you'll know what they mean. $3.50 for diet bowl, $5 for regular bowl.
Ground Pork, Pork Ball, Dried Shrimp & Pork Liver Soup Noodles (#1 Hoy Kha)
This is a true pork-heavy treat. Nice chunks of ground pork, a toothsome pork ball, slightly-bloody pork liver with your choice of noodles - served dry or with soup. I almost always go with the soup and thin rice noodles. The soup has a nice pork bone base with a sharp sweetness and a bit of tartness to it. There are so many delicious things to pick at and excavate from the bowl. Thinly sliced green beans and fresh bean sprouts are added for texture.
Note: medium spicy is pretty SPICY. I'd go with mild and add your own chili flakes. Also, for some reason, if you order hoy kha with glass noodles, you can't get a small bowl – only a large bowl. Also #2, I sometimes find the regular-sized bowl isn't filling enough, simply add $1 more for noodles.
Recommendation: Thin or thick rice noodles with soup. Egg noodles just don't seem to work well with this.
Thai Boat Noodles (Kuay Tiao Luh)
This is the most common bowl of soup noodles in Thai Town, much like Chinese beef noodle soup in San Gabriel Valley. The soup is made with Thai soy sauce, fish sauce, herbs, spices and of course, beef blood for the rich flavor. I really enjoy their soup, as it has a nice beefiness and vinegar kick to it. Compared to Sapp Coffee Shop's bold kick-in-the-face TBN, this is more on the delicate, sour side. I used to eat at Sapp a lot, but lately, it has become a bit salty for my taste. But they do a great TBN.
Recommendation: Thick rice noodles with soup. Choose from Beef or Pork, both are good.
On the other side of the street and just a few blocks east is another strip mall gem that doesn't get as much attention. We've been coming here for years to this noodle shop run by a mother and daughter. In January '09, the mother retired and sold the business to another woman. My Dad and I still call it "Mama's Noodle shop" though because it's so homey. The space is no bigger than your average dining room/kitchen, seats approximately 20 pigs and really feels like you're eating at someone's house. The chef is pretty much within arm's reach. And they barely have any room to contain their restaurant products. I remember one time having to use the restroom. The place was so small, the cook AND the waitress had to stop cooking and move out of the way just so that I could walk through haha.
On the outside of the restaurant is a giant hint as to what you should order. I want one of these to hang over my fireplace but I think you-know-who would be upset. Nam tok can be translated as 'beef blood' noodle soup. But it doesn't matter, just saying these two words will get you to a happy place. $3 for a diet bowl, $5 for a regular bowl.
You are looking at one quarter of the restaurant.
Here's another soup noodle worth trying. Think TBN with tendon and minus the blood.
Here's the chef in the second quadrant of the restaurant.
Preparing the nam tok noodle soup.
Nam Tok Beef Noodle Soup (Kuay Tiao Nam Tok)
I'm sad that the previous owner is no longer here because she truly made a great bowl of nam tok noodles. Although these are a bit different, I still think it is decent if you don't want to wait at Ord, which can sometimes be crowded. The major difference between this version and Mama's is that they add a lot of fried garlic, fried pork skins (chicharrones) and have a clearer soup. Mama's was way more rich in beef blood, while this is stronger on the five-spice powder flavor. Still, both are good. Meat is cooked perfectly as I love my liver pieces to be more on the bloody side.
Tom Yum Pork Noodle Soup (Kuay Tiao Tom Yum)
I usually order a small bowl of this along with my nam tok noodles. It's nice to have two different flavors going on. Tom Yum, as you're probably familiar with, describes a distinct sour taste in food – almost limey and spicy. The soup noodles here don't employ the same broth, but something way more delicate than its counterpart, tom yum goong. This is served with similar ingredients as Ord's hoi kha, and also includes fish cake, fish ball, fried garlic and fried pork skin. Try this out sometime.
Thanks for reading. Both places are cash only.
5401 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Monday - Sunday 10am - Midnight
5136 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Monday - Sunday 8am - 8pm