Outside of Arunee House, two giant signs and a dark-green awning bear the eatery’s MO: to serve up a mix of more than 100 Thai and Chinese dishes. The kitchen staff tosses chicken, pork, beef, or shrimp into six different types of thai curry and mixes chantaboon noodles with chili powder and sprouts to create generous portions of pad thai. Servings of spicy squid prelude the house-special vegetable plate, a cornucopia of snow peas, chinese cabbage, bamboo shoots, black mushrooms, and freshly weaned baby corn. Eaters can augment their meals with glasses of thai iced tea or finish things off with a dessert of sweet sticky rice with mango.
Summer Canteen boasts a casual, yet chicly urbane atmosphere, and its main dining room is furnished with cool metallic seating juxtaposed against warm wood tabletops and banquettes. A colorful mural presides over the dining area, like a judge over a courtroom full of guilty-looking babies.
Nariya Thai’s menu not only packs in the flavor of traditional Thai cuisine; many entrees are also seasoned with healthy ingredients such as garlic, ginger, and kaffir lime to aid in digestion, weight loss, and warding off vampires. The menu includes red, yellow, and green curries and honors the grill with barbecue chicken and pork options. Chefs whip up aromatic dishes of pra ram by combining beef, chicken, or pork with steamed vegetables and peanut sauce. A happy-hour menu allows friends and coworkers to gather for discounted cocktails and beers and small bites of golden tofu, Thai-style buffalo wings, and spring rolls offered from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on weekdays.
The chefs at Chadaka Thai shower traditional spices over a bevy of fresh seafood, spicy curries, and refreshing vegetarian dishes. Tender steak and succulent lamb chops don flavors of lemongrass and hot peppers as egg and rice noodles take on a range of shapes beneath savory sauces. In the dining room, towering windows and pillar-like pendant lights illuminate dark-wood décor as stark geometric furnishings find a rustic complement with burl accents and a patchwork-quilt ceiling. Candlelit tables for two fan the flames of a romantic evening or passionate fire-eating contest, whereas an outdoor patio framed by pinewood-hued beams grants diners a glimpse of the bustling shoppers just beyond their savory sanctuary.
BBQ pork spareribs marinated overnight with a special blend of Asian spices. A half-duck marinated, steamed, deep-fried, and served alongside honey sauce. A whole deep-fried fish coated with chili-garlic sauce. All of these dishes are made using house recipes put together by the cooks at Bamboo House, who make Thai food infused with bold flavors.
Specialties aside, the culinary team focuses on classic curry, noodle, and vegetarian dishes such as deep-fried tofu smothered in crushed peanuts and plum sauce. Of the meat- and seafood-focused options, there’s the spicy seafood, a pan-fried medley of shrimp, mussels, and imitation crab—a fancy name for mussels with pincers tied to their shells.
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 Restaurant, 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 Restaurant. 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.