QUESTION: I’d really like to know where I can order a killer plate of simple proletarian, generic, everyday, average pad Thai. Maybe with shrimp or tofu. Not all of us are Atkins lovers. I want a hot, steaming piled-up plate of slightly sweet, slightly spicy noodles to nudge me toward a hypoglycemic coma as sweet and spicy as the squiggly love that has eluded me until now.
—Yours in merciless carbs, Lycia
ANSWER: Pad Thai, indifferently prepared, might be the dullest single thing on most Los Angeles Thai menus, stiff, oversugared rice noodles slicked with scarlet oil, tossed with a few shrimp, sprinkled with dusty ground peanuts and plopped on top of a mass of bean sprouts. A woman once broke up with me because I insisted on ordering pad Thai every time I went to the old Chao Praya, citing it as proof of my severe lack of imagination. (In my defense, Chao Praya’s pad Thai was an awfully good plate of noodles.) But you can hardly walk a block in parts of Bangkok without encountering the smell of pad Thai — the dish is not just for tourists. And the ultra-spicy, tamarind-soured, fish-sauce-laced house-special version at Krua Thai, an excellent noodle shop not far from the big Buddhist temple in North Hollywood, is about as good as it gets, a powerful dish, truly exotic, sweet and squiggly and delicious, stocked with both tofu and big shrimp. Krua Thai’s may not be all that generic, but maybe you could live with that. Krua Thai, 13130 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, (818) 759-7998.
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