The chefs at Chaba Thai Bay Grill rely on healthy, fresh herbs and fruits to flavor their dishes instead of excess oil, salt, and sugar. The menu of classic Thai cuisine includes stir-fried veggies or noodles with a choice of meat, spicy curries, and grilled seafood. Bartenders shake up tropical cocktails with colorful names such as the Emerald, the Topaz, and the Ruby, and pour beers imported from Thailand, Japan, and St. Louis. Hanging tapestries and Thai artwork decorate Chaba's warm-colored dining room, and the outdoor patio encourages post-meal lounging with its cushioned chairs and colorful flowers.
At Kah Asian Restaurant & Lounge, Chef Vit Suttichanond blends Thai, Japanese, and Chinese flavors into pan-regional cuisine that Easy Reader News has praised for its presentation and its approachable flavor combinations. Familiar Thai curries and noodle dishes fill most of the menu, although wok-fried orders of kung pao chicken and meaty fried rice lend distinctly Chinese touches as well. The sushi chefs also breathe new life into sushi-bar staples with inventive aesthetic details, such as the crimson slivers that explode from the center of the dynamite roll.
Sconce-lit walls and exposed ceiling beams surround the dining room's gleaming wooden tables. Separated by a line of high-backed booths, the lounge area's backlit bar brims with potent spirits and a collection of bottled sakes that diners can knock over in hopes of winning an enormous stuffed animal.
Thai Gourmet by Sri Maya serves up traditional Thai plates that blend fresh ingredients with a mix of meat, tofu, and seafood. Jump-start the meal with an appetizer, such as the goong in blanket, deep-fried, stuffed shrimp accompanied by sweet chili sauce ($8.95). The eatery’s servers can assist indecisive diners by making suggestions, such as the salad kagg, which blends mixed greens, fried tofu chips, and egg with Thai dressing ($7.95). Pad thai reassures palates with an old favorite ($8.95), and the noodles wang dange combines the best of the sky and sea, mixing flat noodles, chicken, squid, and bean sprouts ($9.95). In accordance with tradition, Thai Gourmet by Sri Maya uses fresh ingredients for all its dishes, including the delectable desserts. The sticky rice with Thai custard ($5) meets daily cream requirements, and homemade mixed-fruit ice cream ($4) marries wholesomeness to indulgence, like playing hooky from work to help old ladies cross the street.
Chefs at the brand-new Aura Thai evoke Thailand's lush tropics with a menu of modern, fragrantly spiced dishes. Inside the dramatic burgundy dining room, groups of diners dunk beef and vegetable pot stickers ($6.95) in tangy sauce or settle for layups in soy sauce. Boat noodle soup with beef or pork buoys rice noodles and chinese broccoli in savory broth ($6.95), and the fried catfish ($12.95) dons a robe of thai chili and cilantro fit for a mad king. A sweet and tangy curry sauce accented with pineapple and basil pigments white rice in the classic Aura duck curry ($9.95). At meal's end, flurries of spoons dip into the Aura Thai parfait ($5.95), with its layered blend of coconut sticky rice, ice cream, and deep-fried banana. Aura Thai's chefs are happy to convert most entrees into vegetarian-friendly dishes upon request.
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.