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Thai 

Thursday, Jun 2 2005
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Hi Thai Noodle. Both a collegiate hangout and a ­serious noodle shop, Hi Thai is a bright, noisy shotgun marriage between a fast-food restaurant and a high-style café. The menu is basic, a few different noodle dishes from the Bangkok street-food playbook assembled a few different ways; but this is a pretty good place to experience the offhanded excellence of real Thai cooking: vivid flavors, fresh ingredients and luscious textures, put together with something like love. 5229 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 465-4415. Lunch and dinner seven days 24 hours. No alcohol. Street parking. MC, V. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $10–$14. Thai. JG $ Palms Thai. Palms Thai may be the most famous Thai supper club in Hollywood — with Thai tour buses often parked out front. The food is first-rate. Bar snacks include crisp-skinned Thai sour sausages served with fried peanuts and raw cabbage and beef jerky, fried to a tooth-wrenching chaw. There is a proper papaya salad, the unripe fruit shredded into crunchy slaw, with taut chile heat, sweet-tart citrus dressing and the briny sting of salt-preserved raw crab. And Palms Thai prepares the best version in town of suea rong hai, northeastern-style barbecued beef. You can request a second menu, which includes most of Palms Thai’s best dishes: fiery salads, Isaan-style bar snacks and elaborate soups. But much of the restaurant’s exotica is confined to a third, untranslated menu tucked inside the second one, and if you ask nicely, a waitress may translate a few items for you. 5273 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-5073. Lunch and dinner seven days 11 a.m.–mid. (until 1:30 a.m. Fri.–Sat.). Beer and wine. Takeout. Lot parking. MC, V. Dinner for two, food only, $18–$40. Thai. JG $ Rod-Ded. Rod-Ded is well-known in the Thai community for its pungent bowls of duck noodle soup, as well as for a delicious dish of stewed pork leg with homemade pickles and the crustiest, most delicious fried bananas you have ever tasted. And Rod-Ded’s version of pad kee mao, rice noodles stir-fried with basil, is usually pretty good, slightly charred from contact with a really hot wok, and brought up to breathtaking heat with fresh and dried chiles. 5623 Hollywood Blvd., (323) 464-9689. Lunch and dinner Wed.–Mon. 11 a.m.–8 p.m. No alcohol. Street parking. Cash only. Lunch for two, food only, $10–$14. Thai. JG $ Ruen Pair Thai. One can order the standard pad Thai and cashew chicken, but more interesting choices include preserved-egg salad and pork fried with Chinese olives. At 2 a.m., everybody is eating more or less the same thing: flat, crisp Thai omelets, and morning-glory stems fried with an immoderate amount of garlic. 5257 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 466-0153. 11 a.m.–4 a.m. daily. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $4.95–$7.95. Thai. JG ¢ Sanamluang Café. Sanamluang is a Thai place to duck into and out of at 3 a.m. after the clubs close for vast plates of rice fried with mint leaves, seafood and chiles; for big, comforting bowls of chicken soup flavored with toasted garlic; and for wide noodles fried with Chinese broccoli and shiitake mushrooms. Truly extraordinary is the general’s noodle soup: thin, garlicky egg noodles garnished with bits of duck, barbecued pork, crumbles of ground pork and a couple of shrimp, submerged in a clean, clear broth. 5176 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 660-8006. Open daily 10:30 a.m.–4 a.m. No alcohol. Lot parking. Cash only. Entrées $5–$10. Thai. JG ¢ Sapp Coffee Shop. There is nothing at first glance to distinguish Sapp Coffee Shop from any of the other restaurants in Thai Town. But Sapp may be the best lunchroom in Hollywood, a bright Thai restaurant, unrelentingly yellow inside, sharing a small mini-mall with a video shop and a place to get griddled Thai desserts; crowded at noon, not with revelers but with people who have come to Thai Town to shop and eat noodles, tripe soup, and pork curry stinky with slices of sour bamboo. Sapp is the Thai equivalent of the Apple Pan, remarkable for its unremarkableness, a lunchroom where the virtues of homeliness become extraordinary when put in context with the shiny, glittery surfaces against which it might compete. 5183 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 665-1035. Lunch and dinner 7 a.m.–8 p.m.; closed Wednesdays. Cash only. No alcohol. Takeout. Lot parking. Lunch for two, food only, $8.50–$14.50. Thai. JG ¢ Yai. The sort of thing you don’t really find in garden-­variety Thai places is what Yai — located in the rear of a dingy Hollywood mini-mall, and as authentic a Thai restaurant as they come — calls roast pork with Chinese broccoli: fatty, crispy chunks of pigskin on a dark-green pile whose vegetable bitterness cuts through the richness like a knife. It looks something like a spinach salad, and fully half the customers here seem to have an order on their tables. The dish is bound together with enough garlic to induce a sweat in some people that will stay with them for days. There’s a pungent, searing chile dip on the side. This dish is kind of a walk on the wild side for the Western palate. 5757 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 462-0292. Lunch and dinner daily 11 a.m.–10 p.m. Beer only. Lot parking. Cash only. Lunch or dinner for two, food only, $8–$20. Thai. JG. ¢

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