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Chan Dara was my favorite restaurant in Los Angeles, but sadly the location in West Los Angeles is now gone, and after hearing wonderful things about Jitlada, I took the metro and found my new favorite Thai restaurant.

On my first visit, I ordered the softshell crab with rice noodles and somehow I managed to finish this enormous plate. I kept eating just one more bite until there were no bites left to take home 🙂

They serve BEST oxtail curry I’ve ever eaten in my life! The curry was so fragrant, complex, and layered, that I wanted to drink it after eating the meat and vegetables. The meat was falling off the bone tender, and the vegetables were still a bit crunchy, so the combination was truly perfect.

The portion of rice was enough to soak up most of the curry, but seriously, I could have drunk the curry without anything else! The mild heat version is good for those who want to experience the flavors without pain, but I like the medium level for a bit of sweat and burn 🙂

The glass noodles with pork belly may be deceivingly  simple, but the chunks of pork, the raw vegetables, and the flavor of the noodles, make this a great choice to order as a mild dish accompaniment for a spicy curry or just as a dish for pork lovers.

The menu is so extensive, I will just *have* to go back a few more times and sample more:)

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Tao Thai in Upland is tucked away next to a huge Sprouts Farmers Market, so if you don’t want to shop while hungry, stop in to this tiny place for a quality meal at very affordable prices. You can accent your noodle, rice, soup, salad, or curry with the protein of your choice, including tofu. They give you free crispy egg rolls with a nice veggie filling, but the wrapper was too thick for my taste. I asked for spicy with my rice noodle and shrimp and was very happy with the flavors and heat on my plate. For less than $15 with tax and tip, the quality and quantity were noteworthy.

On a subsequent visit, I chose the chinese broccoli with shrimp, and again chose spicy for my level of heat. The sauce was slightly sweet which balanced out some of the heat from the SEVEN dried peppers at the bottom of the serving dish!

You can always add more spices and condiments from their trays 🙂

Pho Golden Star in Chino serves one of the best bowls of pho I’ve eaten in years. This is their first year, so if you check in on Yelp, they have added a bonus tea and egg roll if you order is over $9, but the bowls are so good and filling, I had no room for either. There is easy parking in the large lot, and the clean, well lit space fills quickly during regular meal times with take out orders and diners, so I’m sure this place has already become a regular spots for locals.

I ordered the brisket, steak, and tendon and spiced it up a bit with some of the tableside chilis. It was hearty and rich without being fatty. I added all the extras on the plate of accompaniments and ended up with a marvelous mix of textures and aromas.

I tried their oxtail soup because I rarely see oxtails on any menu, and after asking the server if I should get the combination or the oxtail, the server immediately said, “Oxtail”. Out came one of the best bowls of broth I’ve tasted in a long time, with tender falling off the bone oxtail, and an unbeatable price of around $10. This bowl is calling me to make the 30+ mile drive again, so next time I may get one order to go 🙂

There is a small altar tucked into the corner of the counter; I may create my own in gratitude for the skills of the woman in the kitchen of this place who made me love pho 🙂

President Thai was recommended by two unrelated food lovers, so I went to to lunches 🙂 The immense building, menu, and long lines, could have been overwhelming, but the service was so kind, patient, efficient, and happy, that I felt as if I was their honored guest. If you are ever in the neighborhood, or simply want to be in a place where you are surrounded by genuine smiles, head over to president Thai.

They start off all lunch specials with either a bowl of delectable soup or a small salad.

The first time I tried their beef because this was their most popular dish. The meat was tender, the flavors were balanced, and the portion was huge! Even as a lunch special for around $10, this was easily enough for two meals; the picture is a bit deceiving because the layers of meat are a bit hidden under the garnish.

I chose the chicken with rice noodles for another lunch and was happy

to add any variety of spice I wanted to my dish. The portion was again very generous and I ate two meals from the one order.

Sushi Roku has many locations, and I have eaten there several times, but I had never tried their Happy Hour until recently. Served only in the bar area (inside or outside), the selections are varied enough for those who like cooked and raw choices. I began with a $5 beer since it was so hot.

A yellow tail and scallion cut roll and a salmon skin hand roll (not crisp) at $5 each started things off,

segued into $5 tempura green beans and another order of the yellow tail cut roll.

The Albacore tacos for $6 were a good choice for those who like fusion.

The hit of the happy hour was the $5 popcorn shrimp with jalapeno cut roll.

At the Thursday night South Pasadena Farmers Market, the longest line is always at Mama Musubi. I braved the wait one day and got three, the beef, the tuna, and the seaweed; my favorite was the seaweed, seen at the right edge of the photo, and apparently it’s also the most popular one:)

There are times I miss the balmy temperate weather of Los Angeles, but sometimes I also miss my favorite restaurants. Yes, it’s true, there is world class wonderful food and wine here, but my palate misses the spiciness that is ubiquitous in nearly every neighborhood in California, from Thai to Mexican. When I am warned that something here is “spicy” that usually means it has garlic, or maybe some pepper. When I saw a Thai restaurant literally next door to Du Pain et Des Idées,  I was drawn to the aromas and the idea that I might enjoy a Thai restaurant here as much as my beloved Chan Dara in Los Angeles. It was a good idea, but as with many anticipated experiences, it wasn’t perfect. Service at lunch is friendly and efficiently bilingual in French and English, but dinner service is rudimentary at best with older Thai ladies who do not speak French (or English) very well, so be prepared to point to menu items to get what you want, and do not expect a smile.

The set menus had very good prices,

and the drinks were very nice glasses of wine

or classically prepared hot tea.

The side dish was either rice noodles

or a sauté of fresh vegetables, both good choices.

One one occasion, I ordered the spicy shrimp with basil (which was very slightly spiced, but flavorful).

One rainy day I ordered the soup with slices of tender beef and vermicelli noodles in a slightly sweet broth with vegetables and a fried “nem” which is like a mini eggroll. I’m not a fan of sweet broth, so the fact that I enjoyed this was a testament to their skills.

Thankfully, the third time was the charm, with a delicious spicy beef sauté that was still pink in the middle, and had enough spice and flavor to rank as the best Thai dish I’ve had in Paris so far.

This restaurant has several restaurants and cafés around the area, and each has slightly different service but similar menus. I would definitely recommend this as a place to introduce people to Thai food, but I’m sure there are better places in Paris; suggestions anyone?

My first visit to Swanya Thai turned out well, with lovely service, a clean open dining area, and food that was tasty and served generously. Since I had not brought my camera, I decided to go back and try them again, getting take out food so I could write a post about them with photos.

I was looking forward to a good meal, but I was hugely disappointed when I bit into an egg roll; they were undercooked to the point that the wrapper was elastic instead of crisp. The filling of carrots, celery and cabbage was crunchy and would have been good if it had not been over salted. For $5.50 this would have been a bargain, but it only if they had cooked and seasoned the rolls properly.

The most successful dish was the Pad Woon Sen for $7.95. You can order it with any protein you prefer, with prices adjusted accordingly. I chose tofu because I had ordered a beef dish and wanted this as my vegetable/starch dish. The flavors were good in this, but again the skill of the kitchen (or lack thereof) showed through with slices of celery stalk that were bigger than my fingers and clumps of egg (which you can see in the photo).

The dish I had the first time was the Crying Tiger Beef for $8.95. I was so impressed by the moist and succulent beef that I ordered the dish again to write about it. Sadly this tasted nothing like the beef I had tried the first time. The meat was so dry and tough that I ended up throwing it out (even if I had a dog, I’m not sure I would have subjected an animal to this dish). The spicy sauce was very good, but even using all of it to try to reconstitute the beef did not help this dish.

I am sad to have found my second foray to Swanya so disappointing, perhaps the regular chef was off that night or they changed chefs. I’m hoping it was just an off night, but when a restaurant’s food quality declines rather than improves on a subsequent visit, it does not bode well. I hope that they bring their food up to the level of their lovely service and decor; after all we go out to dinner for the food, not just the ambiance.

Swanya Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

Taste of Thai has two locations and after eating at the Del Mar address, I can say that there should be many more branches of this restaurant. It was of course, a local who introduced me to this place because locals come here regularly, but if you are visiting, you would not necessarily try this place, tucked next to a shopping center close to the freeway.

As in most Thai restaurants, the service is impeccably polite and efficient, and the decor ornate. The thing that counts the most is the food, and it is food excellent. You may adjust the spiciness on a scale from 1 to 10 so depending on your preference (and your dining companions) you can burn your taste buds or soothe them. I chose a level 7 for my spicy noodles with duck ($11.95) and it was just the right amount of heat to awaken my mouth without setting it on fire.


My companion chose the red curry made with coconut milk, bamboo shoots, green pepper, onion, peas & carrot at a level 3 with chicken ($10.95). I tasted this rich dish and loved it even though I would have liked it hotter, the flavors were complex and complimented the vegetables well.

Since no one has the same taste, it is nice that a restaurant will adjust spiciness and ingredients to your preferences; most items allow you to choose whether you want shrimp, squid, fish, beef, duck, chicken, scallops, or a mixture in your dish. They even have a nice wine selection by the glass or bottle, so you can cool your dishes with some liquid refreshment.

Taste of Thai is as its’ name implies, a Thai restaurant which emphasizes taste and caters to yours, no matter what that is, for that reason alone, it is worth a trip.

Taste of Thai on Urbanspoon

Chan Dara is my favorite Thai restaurant, but along with the blessings of blogging about new discoveries comes the curse of constantly finding and trying new places. I haven’t been patronizing my old favorites as much, but since Christmas is coming up, several of my friends suggested we have a holiday lunch, and it just happens that Chan Dara is located in an ideal location for all of us to meet.

I chose my favorite fish dish, the Miso Marinated Black Sea Bass with Ginger Ong Choy ($20.50). It was as wonderful as always, served with a garlic and pepper side sauce which gave it a nice refreshing bite as a contrast to the savory, but rich miso sauce.

One of my friends opted for his favorite Grilled Salmon ($19.50) with Coconut Rice and vegetables, which he finished slowly, savoring every bite.

The husband of my friend Shelly had never eaten here before and opted for the Roasted Duck on a bed of Chinese Broccoli ($17.95) for his virginal meal. He was kind enough to offer me a taste after demolishing all but one piece. I’m so glad I got a bite of the juicy honey & hoisin marinated duck meat before all of it disappeared into his stomach.

My friend Shelly has been here with me many times, so she has toured the menu with me. Today she chose Green Bean Garlic Stir Fry ($10.25) with tofu. Because she couldn’t quite finish it, she took what was leftover home, unable to leave any deliciousness at the restaurant.

We were all too full to contemplate dessert, but the fresh young coconut juice ($4.95) I had with my meal was my perfect dessert as I scraped the young coconut from the shell.

Holidays are meant to be shared with your favorite people in your favorite places; I was lucky enough to have done that today and I hope you all can enjoy your favorite people and places too.

For its’ 25th anniversary, Chaya has a new tasting menu called “La Petite Chaya,” in honor of the first restaurant that the Tsunoda family opened in California in 1982, featuring escargots en cocottes ($8), crunchy shrimp rolls ($6) or Kobe Beef rolls ($18) and desserts like French Apple tart ($6). If you go during the month of October, Executive chef Tachibe is offering a $25 prix-fixe dinner special with proceeds from $25 tickets for an Oct. 25 celebration to benefit the Careers through Culinary Arts Program which helps students interest in working in the food industry with scholarships and training.

Just up the street from Chaya’s in Beverly Hills, is Comme Ca on Melrose and they have a new Defaire Love Affair happy hour for lovers or workers who would like to enjoy their afternoons somewhere other than in Los Angeles traffic. Whether you want a tasty bite of steak tartare, salmon tartare, crabcake, croque Monsieur, shrimp cocktail, or fromage du jour, it will only cost $7, though lovers might prefer some of the $2 oysters. For a nice libation to lighten your mood while eating, but without lightening too much of your wallet, try one of their $7 specialty cocktails with fanciful names like the Little Prick, made with gin honey, lemon, rosemary, and rose water, the Mango Mahal, made with vodka, mango puree, lime, and rose water, or my personal favorite the Live to Love, made with cachaca, St. Germain, raspberry, and champagne.

So next time you are faced with driving during rush hour, go get a bite and a drink and let the traffic clog on without you; just make sure you get a cab if you end up drinking more than eating.


The little neighborhood place Silk Thai is at the border of Beverly Hills and Century City. When I say little, I mean ten tables, all full of locals lunching when I drove by, but by the time I found parking just one block away at a meter, one table had emptied just for me!

It’s always a good sign when a small place is filled with regulars and locals rather than tourists who may be there based purely on hype or a past reputation. It’s also good when the service is friendly even when the restaurant is swamped; there is only one waitress for the entire place and she also cleared, set, and delivered the orders after taking them! They offer take out and the delivery bicycle man was making runs throughout my meal (the bike is parked in front with a milk carton basket to carry the food, just like in Manhattan).

The decor is very calming, with touches of brightly colored cushions and flowers on every table. They offer a great lunch time special for only $8.95 which includes a small salad with very thick peanut dressing (I liked the flavor but not the consistency), two mini vegetable spring rolls, and a choice of entrees with rice. I chose the beef with basil and brown rice (so nice to have brown rice as an option) pictured above. The flavors were rich and flavorful, but not very spicy; probably a good thing for all the people who had to go back to work after lunch. Other options include a yellow curry chicken, tofu with cashew nuts, and broccoli with your choice of tofu or meat. You can also order off the regular menu of noodle and rice dishes which all run under $10; they have a vegetarian tofu alternative for nearly every dish that is made with meat or shrimp.

As a nice refreshing finish to a very good deal in Beverly Hills, they serve a very colorful scoop of frutti tutti sherbet after the meal; it made everyone (including me) smile like a kid when we got our desserts.


The little neighborhood place Silk Thai is at the border of Beverly Hills and Century City. When I say little, I mean ten tables, all full of locals lunching when I drove by, but by the time I found parking just one block away at a meter, one table had emptied just for me!

It’s always a good sign when a small place is filled with regulars and locals rather than tourists who may be there based purely on hype or a past reputation. It’s also good when the service is friendly even when the restaurant is swamped; there is only one waitress for the entire place and she also cleared, set, and delivered the orders after taking them! They offer take out and the delivery bicycle man was making runs throughout my meal (the bike is parked in front with a milk carton basket to carry the food, just like in Manhattan).

The decor is very calming, with touches of brightly colored cushions and flowers on every table. They offer a great lunch time special for only $8.95 which includes a small salad with very thick peanut dressing (I liked the flavor but not the consistency), two mini vegetable spring rolls, and a choice of entrees with rice. I chose the beef with basil and brown rice (so nice to have brown rice as an option) pictured above. The flavors were rich and flavorful, but not very spicy; probably a good thing for all the people who had to go back to work after lunch. Other options include a yellow curry chicken, tofu with cashew nuts, and broccoli with your choice of tofu or meat. You can also order off the regular menu of noodle and rice dishes which all run under $10; they have a vegetarian tofu alternative for nearly every dish that is made with meat or shrimp.

As a nice refreshing finish to a very good deal in Beverly Hills, they serve a very colorful scoop of frutti tutti sherbet after the meal; it made everyone (including me) smile like a kid when we got our desserts.

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