It’s the season of pumpkins, when that orange, hard-skinned, winter squash shows up in everything from ravioli to beer. So why limit yourself to that same old synthetic Starbucks pumpkin spice? Thai Town is filled with far more interesting pumpkin dishes to tempt your palate.
In Thailand, pumpkins are available throughout the year. So when it's jack-o-lantern season in L.A., Thai Town restaurants are a good bet to find delicious pumpkin concoctions. These three dishes are a great start.
Custard Pumpkin at Pa-Ord Noodle
The gently sweet slices of a custard pumpkin (sankaya fak thong) make for a dessert that’s not too sugary or a great breakfast with tea. Kombacha squash (Japanese pumpkins) are filled with coconut custard and then steamed whole until the pumpkin is cooked and the custard is set, at which point the whole thing can be sliced like a pie and eaten, skin and all. Snap these treats up at Pa-Ord in the packaged food section by the register.
Pumpkin Crispy Pork at Jitlada
Jitlada’s famed “second half of the menu” features spicy southern Thai specialties, which include lots of savory pumpkin options. The pumpkin crispy pork is a healthy portion of pumpkin mixed with green beans and bell peppers and tender pork (not particularly crispy) in a southern curry sauce. The same spicy pumpkin option can be ordered with lamb, salmon, prawns, soft shell crab, mixed seafood, or frog legs. (Owner Jazz Singsanong tells us the pumpkin with prawns is a personal favorite.)
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Whichever way you order it, prepare to feel the heat! Check out the stir-fried pumpkin with eggs or the chicken wings with dry pumpkin curry too.
Pumpkin in Coconut Milk at Bhan Kanom Thai
Bhan Kanom Thai is a sweets shop stuffed with dry, wet, cold and hot desserts for take-out. At the hot station, you can now find pumpkin in sweet coconut milk syrup (fak thong gang buad). This type of Thai dessert is made by simmering vegetables or fruit in sugar and coconut milk, and not with sticky rice. It’s meant to be eaten straight (but if you want to go rogue, it tastes great over rice too). It's definitely heavy on the sugar, but the pumpkin still dominates — if you’re in the mood for a sweet and creamy take on the squash, this dish will hit the spot.
Pa-Ord Noodle: 5269 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles; (323) 466-4281.
Jitlada: 5233 Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles; (323) 667-9809.
Bhan Kanom Thai: 5271 Hollywood Blvd, Los Angeles; (323) 871-8030.