It's Thai--in the Middle of Koreatown

Fried som tam from It's Thai
Fried som tam from It's Thai
Barbara Hansen

What's new in Koreatown? A Thai restaurant, of course. A place called It's Thai, Noodle 'n More has opened in the same block as Ice Kiss and Ham Ji Park barbecue. That's Sixth Street between Kenmore and Catalina, a food hub where you can find anything from all night live seafood to Vietnamese pho and French-Korean pastries.

The original It's Thai is on Glendale Blvd. in Echo Park. There, food is more fusion. In Koreatown, it's more Thai, meaning spicier, says owner/chef Danny Supthong, who makes his own curry pastes and almost everything else from scratch.

Pad Thai usually comes to the table unseasoned. Thais then toss the noodles with hot chiles, sugar and other condiments. Here it's spicy when you get it. Only a show-off would dump in more chile.

But not everything will sear your taste buds. It's Thai heaven noodles is the exact opposite, a Chinese style noodle, vegetable and meat dish in a pleasant but totally bland cornstarch-thickened sauce.

Owner Danny Supthong, with his homemade curry paste
Owner Danny Supthong, with his homemade curry paste
Barbara Hansen

What's really popular is yen ta fo, soupy rice noodles with fish balls, fish cake, squid, tiny fish, white fungus, little squares of hard tofu, dark cubes of congealed pork blood and short lengths of morning glory vine. One of the most popular noodle dishes in Thailand, it got good marks from the Thais I ate with.

Fried som tam (green papaya salad) made a splash when it was introduced in Hollywood's Thai Town last year by winners of a som tam cooking contest in Thailand. You can get that same dish at It's Thai, a handsome platter of tempura-style green papaya and carrot strands with tomatoes, green beans, cashews and fried shrimp in a spicy sweet and sour sauce.

Supthong puts his own curry paste into massaman, the southern curry with meat and potatoes, and it's spicy enough to be interesting, no doubt one of the better versions around town. One day, fried shrimp cakes couldn't have been more fresh. Supthong was mixing the batter as the lunch crowd arrived.

You can look into the kitchen through a small window to see what's happening or just ask him what is best that day. Although Supthong runs both restaurants, he's spending more time at the Koreatown branch while it settles down. Small with nice design touches, it's still being tweaked. In the next few weeks, Supthong plans to put in comfortable bench seating instead of the high tables with backless seats that make leaning back a high-risk move.

It's Thai, Noodle 'n More: 3407 W. 6th St. (213) 738-8849.


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