Thursday, September 02, 2010

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park - Thai Soup Noodles in SGV

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Little China, or as most people know it, San Gabriel Valley, welcomes a new restaurant to an otherwise homogenous land of Chinese restaurants ranging from Hong Kong/Cantonese, the mainland including Yunnan, Hunan, Sichuan and Chiu Chow. Instead of being greeted by someone saying "ni hao" or "how meh-nee peepo!" on an old Aiwa stereo-turned-PA-system, you'll hear "so waat dii", which is Thai for "hello". Thai restaurants are not a new thing in San Gabriel Valley but from many experiences, most seem to offer the usual suspects during lunch special and sport purple tablecloths and Buddha paintings. Over the last two decades, Thai has become the new "Chinese" and offer the same old pad thai, tom yum soup and papaya salad – not many of them feature soup noodles. Although this place is nearly hidden in an ugly grey shopping center, this place actually sticks out like a sore thumb.

You may know of Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, formerly as Ord on Hollywood Blvd. It was at Ord that Lawan Bhanduram established her noodle empire and then branched off to Panorama City to launch Ord 2. She sold Ord on Hollywood to a nice, hardworking family led by Bell Morawong. The food didn't taste exactly the same but it was still a favorite amongst noodle whores of all shapes and sizes. But much to their surprise, Bhanduram made an unexpected return to Thai Town a few months later. As much as I love Bhanduram's Pa Ord, it was a bit too close to the original Ord if you ask me. Now Morawong has expanded her business down into a new territory and I'm hoping they get some decent attention for some otherwise "different" soup noodles in Little China.

If you've been to Dean Sin World, which I believe just changed its name to something else weird, for their dumplings, then you've seen this ugly shopping center. For years I've wondered when exactly tumbleweeds would roll through there. But with the addition of Dean Sin World and Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, this shopping center seems to be slowly regaining a pulse. Since they've only been opened for 2 weeks, they don't have a sign, so look for the homemade sign with Thai writing on it. It looks squigglier than Chinese and drawn with Crayola markers.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

I took a seat and one look at the interior, knew that this was a Chinese restaurant in the previous life. Well I got a hint, the booth seats actually had Chinese embroidery. My dad, Noodle Whore Senior, told me about this place and we weren't sure if this was in fact Morawong's new project or a newcomer also offering the favored Hoy Kha Tom Yum soup noodles. I recognized the condiments and containers used here... especially the tin box containing the chopsticks and metal spoon and knew this was place was opened up by one of the Ord owners. Hoy kha means 'dangling feet noodles'. Don't worry, the cooks weren't soaking their feet in your broth, it's a reference to the bench seating at this particular noodle shop along the rivers in Thailand. The seating along the edges of this outdoor restaurant don't have any flooring so you have to sit on the floor and drop your legs through, and eat off the table that's built into the side railing. Next time you're at Hoy Kha Thai Noodles in Hollywood, look at the photos of the dangling feet and you'll understand.

With the Thai soup noodle places, it's important to know that you can choose between many types of noodles, five to be exact. You can also order this sans soup. In Chinese/Chiu Chow places, you'll also have the option of wide, egg noodles. Like Italian pasta, some shapes hold better than others.

(A) Big, flat rice noodles
(B) Rice noodles used in pho or pad thai
(C) Thin, egg noodles
(D) Vermicelli (common in the pink-colored Yen Ta Fo)
(E) Glass noodles (bean threads)
(F) Square rice noodles/rolled cylinders (used only for Kuay Jup soup noodles)

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Hoy Kha Tom Yum Noodles
I tried the namesake noodle dish first. This is based off a Chinese/Chiu Chow soup noodle dish which is basically a soupy version of chop suey and noodles. Like most peasant food and for people on the go, this was a mix of either leftovers or unwanted animal parts plus your choice of noodles. In this Thai version, you have Chinese BBQ pork (cha shu), ground chicken, pork balls, pork liver, fishcake and dried shrimp. The soup tasted exactly as I remembered from the first location. The soup is light, slightly sweet and just tart enough. It was good. But my only problem with this dish and most of the places that offer the mini/large bowl soup noodles is that they throw in too many raw ingredients like bean sprouts and lettuce, which bring down the soup temperature. Booooooo. So try asking for steamed bean sprouts as some people do with Vietnamese pho.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Kuay Tiao Luh Thai Boat Noodles
I fell in love with Thai Boat noodles at a place you wouldn't expect. It was sometime in the early 90s, when Noodle Planet/World was the "hot spot" for SGV denizens. A brilliant idea run by a young man of Thai and Caucasian decent, this was a place where you could order soup noodles from "around the globe". And they happened to offer Thai Boat Noodles. One look at my dad, who was sweating bullets while finishing the last spoonful of soup, I could tell this was a good bowl of soup noodles. But like Chinese beef noodle soup, there are so many interpretations. People love Sapp Coffee Shop, which we used to frequent back in the 90s, for their daring, more vulgar broth that gave off salty, bloody, spiceful and sour tones. My recent favorite is Pa Ord's, which has a nice thickness to the soup that isn't as rich as Sapp's, yet has a balance that I prefer. But here at Hoy Kha's, it's a good thing they didn't name the place after this dish because it's definitely not the main event. The soup had the five-spice action, but there was no punch. I added vinegar from the green chili relish to make it work.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Another thing was there was only braised beef shank, which tastes good, but I was really craving some pork blood cubes and rare beef. I was hoping for more out of this but I'll definitely try it again next time I come. Why not, it's only $3.50.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Crispy Pork & Holy Basil Rice with Fried Egg
Yes, I know, I always order this with my diminutive noodle bowls, but this dish is for me a way to gauge a Thai restaurant. A pho restaurant that can't do a decent bowl of pho... a taco truck that can't do a carne asada taco right? I never eat pad thai, even if it's offered in gigantic dumpster trays at office meetings... I just have no interest. But this dish, this is what you'll most likely see the employees of a Thai restaurant eating on their lunch break. Crispy pork that is wok-fried again before service, crunchy long beans, basil and a sloppy fried egg. Man.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park


Hoy Kha Thai Noodles, Monterey Park

Look at that. Magic happens once you crack that egg. Make sure you ask for it over-easy, runny yolk. It's as beautiful as cracking a beautifully poached egg into your bowl of tonkotsu ramen. Pa Ord's is still my favorite, but I have to say that this tasted better than the original location.

For those that can't venture into Thai Town for Pa Ord or Ord, this serves as a great option for your Thai soup noodle needs. Also, it's a nice break from Little China. I recommend the Hoy Kha soup noodles with mild spice and Crispy pork rice with basil (not Chinese broccoli) and runny over-easy egg. The Thai sausages from what I remember are a good appetizer as well. Thanks for reading.

Hoy Kha Thai Noodles
230 N. Garfield Avenue
Monterey Park, CA 91754
(626) 927-9629
Everyday 10 am - 9 pm


Hungry Pandas said...

Okay Dylan, I think you are officially one of my favorite blogs. After reading your posts, I just get hungry and excited. I have the "I HAVE TO GO THERE" feeling. Especially with this post.

So you're telling me that a version of Ord is in our very own SGV? I HAVE TO GO THERE ASAP.

Thanks for the post!


Andrew said...

Actually, that restaurant in the back of the plaza (straight back from Dean Sin World) always seems to be doing gangbusters at night.

Now they just need that old arcade/video game store to open back up with a Street Fighter machine

e d b m said...

HungryPandas, thanks for stopping by. Yeah it's already there, definitely check it out. Again, seems like the hoy kha may be the best soup noodle there. But that crispy pork...

Andrew, OK, if there is a Street Fighter Machine, I think I have a 3rd reason to grow out my bangs and hang out in that plaza again. Motorola!

Anonymous said...

Nicely done up as always. The location has failed 2x as a Taiwanese beer house, hopefully it'll make it as a Thai noodle joint. Andrew, this is not in the same strip mall as Da Shoe Warehouse, it's the 1 to the south. Kudos to EDBM Sr. for leading the way. I was too incredulous to try.

Eddie Lin said...

That looks great! I was just out there yesterday too! Wish I would've known yesterday. Next time.

Great work. Love the pix!

Daily Gluttony said...

I would imagine that soaking feet in ones soup would make it taste better. hahaha

This is awesome, thanks! I know I can always count on you for great food recs in my hood!

BruBruBlah said...

Thanks for the great find. I have meaning to add Thai into my one of the weekdays lunch routine and this looks very promising. (especially with your pictures :)

e d b m said...

Sinosoul, thanks.

Eddie, you've been to the Hollywood one right... it's closer to you.

DG, the day you have Pho Dac Biet Chef's Feet, will be the day haha.

BruBruBlah, thanks for stopping by.

weezermonkey said...

We are obsessed with crispy pork rice. OBSESSED. This is going on my list just for that.

Thank you, thank you, thank you for "how meh-nee peepo!" I am crying here.

EatTravelEat said...

Now I have yet another restaurant to visit in that same strip mall! DSW and now this place. LOL. Nice new terminology for the SGV by the way. :)

Tryabreathmint said...

i think you convinced me to check out this place!

e d b m said...

Weezer, I know me too! That is one dish I can't stop eating.

ETE, new terminology? It's always been a China Jr. haha.

Breathmint, would love your thoughts. Original location in Hollywood.

Tryabreathmint said...

going to try it this weekend if everything goes to plan! * crosses fingers *

mpken said...

oh man. ate there 3 times this week. now that Eight Cafe is gone, this is the new leader in cheap eats, soup noodle style. this place is definitely in our rotation now. thanks for the review.

patra316 said...

Thai food is the most delicious food in the world.

Ach said...

i've been to the original hoy ka noodle place in thailand. i wish i could find the pics to show you!

Tryabreathmint said...

i went because of this post and it was pretty darn good. i never know where to go for good Thai food and i love the SGV area!

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