In an anonymous Chinatown warehouse lies an unlikely trove of treasures from Thailand. Just a short distance from the newly revamped State Historic Park, an unassuming strip mall features the offices of a Thai newspaper, a seafood spot and the Andy Ricker–approved Chimney Coffee cafe, which serves third-wave java and savory larb burgers. But tucked away behind them is the LAX-C warehouse, containing everything from Bangkok and beyond. While the exterior of the building is emblazoned with an Old West mural depicting Native Americans hunting bison, the interior feels more like Asian Costco, with rows upon rows of Thai, Indian and pan-Asian items. If you've ever wondered where your pad Thai came from, this is the place. Looking for a gallon of hoisin sauce? There's aisle after aisle of Asian marinades and hot sauces. The expansive freezer section showcases enormous boxes of dumplings and an entire hog leg or two. And seafood doesn't get any fresher than the water tanks in the front of the compound, where live crab and lobsters await their unfortunate fate. But beyond food, there are restaurant-grade kitchen supplies, including dumpling pots and woks galore. Another wing of the compound features decoration for restaurants, such as hand-carved Buddhist statues, low-slung tea tables and roll-out sleeping mats. Need an $11,000 gamelan — that immense percussive instrument sometimes clanging away in Björk songs? There's one over there, under a pile of empty boxes. If you're in for an adventure, sneak around back to the outdoor area, where you'll find even bigger altars, elaborately carved furniture and a few tuk tuk motorcycles, those whimsically painted taxis that zip along Thai thoroughfares. With each visit, you'll discover something new among the Thai treasures in this warehouse of wonders.
Credit: Drew Tewksbury