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Madame Shawn is a Thai restaurant that has a branch in Bangkok and four in Paris, so if you are craving something spicy in Paris, I highly recommend that you stop by and savor the flavors that are a rarity in Paris where anything spicier than pepper is met with shocked and frightened looks by the locals 😉

Luckily my friends are not afraid of spice and love to travel by both palate and plane, so we went to the Madame Shawn next door to my favorite Boulangerie Du Pain et des Idées in the 10th. I had discovered Madame Shawn because it was next door to the bakery and I was too hungry to just eat bread for a meal. they offer lunch menus from 14-19 Euros  and their dinners are fantastic!

Their 18 Euro sampler of appetizers will give you a taste of all the variations of taste they offer.

Their #47 with rice noodles and chicken was a delicious version of pad see ew in Los Angeles with vegetables and a citrus spark.

The #321, a spicy vegetarian stir fry with tofu, was a nice piquant plate to add to our assortment for 13 Euros.

Their #306 for 18 Euros was a beautiful coconut presentation with  creamy lemongrass flavored shrimp.

 This is the plated view of that curry 🙂

 Desserts ranged from sorbets and ice cream for 7.50 euros,

 to the best mango and sticky rice I’ve e er tasted for 8.50 euros.

You may not crave Thai food while in Paris, but if you do, you won’t be disappointed by Madame Shawn.

I have never been to Thailand, so my take on Thai restaurants is entirely based on what I have eaten outside of Thailand. Jitlada is wonderful, but Hollywood too far away for regular visits, as is Chan Dara, now that it is only in Larchmont, so Natalee Thai has become my default place for Thai food.

One of my litmus tests for Thai food is the level and kind of spice they use. Warnings of spicy are good when they use thai chilis (not jalapenos) and I actually need several tissues to blow my nose and wipe the tears from my eyes 🙂 

The Phu Ket steamed sole filet, with garlic, lime, chili, and Thai fish sauce for $13.75 on steamed baby bok choy was a tender symphony of fish simply done. the surprising level of heat in the chilis was astounding, and I grabbed some of the thai iced coffee one of my friends was drinking to calm the fire down. 

I tried the sea bass version of the same in take out for $18.95, but sadly the sauce had spilled out of the take out container and the pieces of sea bass were disappointing small for the price.

The Pad See Ew with beef for $11.25 was slightly oily, but the flavors were so good that one person literally polished off the entire plate and wanted another serving to go!

The Yum Woon Sen clear glass noodles for $10.50 had a nice fresh lime garlic and chili sauce with the calamari, shrimp, chicken, and vegetables. This was perfect for a lighter noodle dish.

To round out some of the noodles and meat, we also got the mixed vegetables for $9.25.

The nice thing about eating with people who love to eat is that we are always planning our next meal as we are eating, so we ordered some food to go as soon as we finished eating! 

We chose to get the Natalee fresh rolls for $7.50,

and order of pad thai for $11.95 which includes chicken, shrimp, and tofu,

and their BBQ chicken for $11.50, which was a great idea because with the stormy weather in Southern California lately, having great food for another meal with friends is priceless!

Thai Cafe has no website, is in a strip mall in Hawthorne, and sometimes the woman who owns it is both the cook and server. I ate there with a friend and we both felt as if we were channeling Jonathan Gold as we marveled at the flavors, quality, and quantity of Thai food.

Nothing on the menu is over $20 and the quantities are copious enough for me to eat two meals (your appetite may be bigger than mine, but chances are you will be very full if you finish your serving). The best surprise of all was that the flavors are wonderful! After just one bite of the Pad Woon Sen with shrimp (glass noodles), my friend started smiling. And although he is bigger than I am, he could not finish his plate, saying, “I usually just eat the shrimp if I can’t finish the noodles, but there are too many shrimp for me to do that!” At $12 for a tasty generous portion, it is truly smile worthy:)

I love rice noodles, so I ordered Pad See Ew with shrimp for $12 and asked for it to be spicy. I beamed after I took a bite and found that I did not need to add anything to perk up the flavors from the array of chilies on the table. As you can see, it was an equally generous portion, and I was so relieved to find it wasn’t greasy! My only note on this otherwise perfect plate was that I found the shrimp a tad overcooked.

Because the cafe is in a strip mall that is not in a great area, I ordered some food to go, the chili ginger stir fry with beef for $10, which was mostly celery and although tasty, not a dish I would order again.

My friend’s Pad Woon Sen looked so good, that I ordered it to go with tofu for $10 and was very happy to be able to choose fried tofu, adding a nice texture contrast to the noodles. I managed to eat about half of the portion for lunch, and enjoyed having leftovers for another day.

They also offer curries, soups, rice, and other sauteed dishes, and I will surely be back to try some other items. They recently repainted and refreshed the interior, so you may want to eat in, but if you do, it is still likely that you will be taking leftovers home!

Thai food is one of my favorite Asian flavors, so much so that if I had to choose to eat only one kind of cuisine, I would pick Thai. Because I moved (again) last month, I was too tired to cook, but luckily Ubon is located at the halfway point between my old and new abodes. The first time I was early enough to catch the lunch special that included a salad and crispy fried egg roll with my beef Kee Mao flat rice noodles, stir fried with garlic, chili, onions, bell peppers, green beans, bean sprouts, and scallions for $9.95. I asked for it to be spicy and although I really didn’t need to add any spice to it, there were three containers of various peppers on the table, so I “had” to add a bit 🙂

 The small simple salad had a slightly sweet, but refreshing sauce.

 The crispy vegetable egg roll had plenty of vegetables and a great crunch.

On another day, I chose shrimp, and asked for more spice…this time I did not need to add any more peppers, but I did need more tissues 🙂

I had to try one of the non noodle dishes, so the Chinese broccoli with crispy pork belly fit the $10.95 bill. In spite of have to pack and unpack, this nice balance of flavors and textures made me smile all day 🙂 For those who want brown rice instead of jasmine, they offer that, as well as soups, rice dishes, curries (including one with duck), and boba drinks, so Ubon can be a stopover anytime you want a taste of Thai in the middle of Torrance.

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:)

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




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