Thai Classic Restaurant's chefs work with an array of exotic ingredients and savory spices, from creamy coconut milk to fiery dried chilies to fresh ginger. They distribute these ingredients across an extensive menu of traditional Thai soups, curries, and noodle dishes. To craft one of their specialties—Thai Classic seafood curry—the chefs simmer fresh seafood in tangy red curry with bamboo shoots and basil leaves. Diners await meals over glasses of sweet iced tea in the sunlit dining room, where gold flowers speckle deep red walls.
Aromas of curries, sautéed vegetables, and spicy sauces permeate Krung Thep Thai Cuisine’s sunny space. Meat-packed entrees of beef curry, spicy thai fried rice, and lime-infused rib-eye steak fill tables alongside hearty vegetarian platefuls, such as stir-fried tofu and sautéed bean sprouts. Authentic Thai soups simmer with spicy herbs or succulent ground pork, and classic noodle dishes entangle chinese broccoli, baby corn, and your choice of protein, such as chicken, pork, or tofu. To wash down meals or water its epicurean bonsai tree, the eatery conjures Thai iced teas and coffees, and fresh juices made from lemongrass, coconut, and palm.
Charm Vegan's menu draws from an eclectic assortment of international cuisines, but every dish demonstrates the same commitment to healthful, vegan-friendly cooking. Soy-based meat and seafood alternatives find their way into dishes that embrace the flavors of southeast Asian cuisine. Although the wealth of spicy chilies, sweet basil leaves, and bold curries demonstrates the chefs' dedication to Thai recipes, they also draw culinary inspiration from other regions. American standbys also find their way into the menu in the shape of burgers made with grilled tofu instead of traditional patties formed with ground beef and copies of the U.S. Constitution.
From panang curry to crispy pork in garlic and oyster sauce, chefs use USDA-certified meats and quality ingredients to create fresh Thai dishes with no MSG or preservatives. The kitchen combines three distinctive cooking styles—authentic, signature, and Bangkok style—to highlight Thailand’s diverse recipes. Expansive leather booths and spacious tables give customers space to stretch out and do short sprinting drills as they dig into the chefs’ creations.
For the casual observer passing Tuk Tuk, it might seem as though there has been an accident. The front of a tuk tuk—the Thai term for rickshaw—juts from the front of the building above the awning, as though its wheel has just burst through the wall. But if that observer ventured inside, they would find neither debris nor an apologetic teleporter proclaiming that his calculations were off. Instead they would see diners seated beneath colorful wall art and hanging lamps whose shades resemble curving Möbius strips, or, according to one review from Gayot, snail shells. Then, once the adrenaline faded and reality set in, the investigating observer would be smacked by what was so obvious to everyone else: the aroma of mingling spices.
A compendium of noodle dishes, wok stir-fries, curries, and house specialties, the menu prioritizes the power of complementary ingredients. According to the same Gayot review, chef Aoi Rattanamanee has a particular knack for seasoning grilled dishes: "Chicken is marinated overnight in garlic, cilantro and black pepper, fostering deep flavor." The spicy basil fried rice mixes chili and thai basil within a vegetable medley, and the Crying Tiger beef derives its zest from garlic, galangal root, and soybean sauce. Those in search of proven staples can indulge in pad thai or one of three curry variants, whose ingredients have all simmered in a creamy coconut milk.
Today, the Los Angeles foodscape is saturated with the culinary styles of countries from the other side of the Pacific. But nearly 40 years ago, that was hardly the case. In 1976, Supa Kuntee and her family opened Chao Krung, one of L.A.'s very first Thai restaurants (the second ever, as far as they know). Early on, they attracted hordes of curious diners who had never sampled the Kuntees' native foods. Years later, the family still follows those traditional recipes when crafting their wide selection of noodle, rice, curry, grill-based, and wok-prepared entrees. The pad thai is quite popular, as is papaya salad and tom yum, a soup that can be made with spicy lemongrass chicken or tofu and mushrooms.
As they did with the menu, the Kuntees looked to authentic Thai traditions when designing Chao Krung. They pride themselves on recreating the elaborate decor found in many Bangkok restaurants, hinted at by the intricately carved welcome sign that greets guests in two languages. From tables set with linen napkins folded into lotus flowers, people can admire the ornate mural of the Chao Praya riverbank, or gaze through one the painted window boxes set into teak-wood walls. An illuminated sala roof, meanwhile, covers one end of the bar, protecting patrons from the intrusive gaze of any secret agent spies hiding in the rafters.