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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.


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.

RockSugar was so good yesterday that I went back today with 3 friends and we ordered the prix fixe lunch for four of us as well as an additional appetizer, side dish, and main course (we were all very hungry since it was about 3pm and none of us had eaten lunch).

I am happy to report that the service was again very efficient and friendly, and our food pleased even a very picky eater who commented “I thought this would be weird, but it tastes really good.” Just goes to prove that everyone can appreciate good food if they are simply brave enough to try something different.

We had the lacquered ribs as our additional appetizer and although they were sweet and sticky, they were not cloyingly so, and meaty enough for the four of us to share one plate. Our prix fixe for four included 2 salads, so we chose the green salad and the jicama with ruby grapefruit and candied walnuts, which was the favorite for all four of us. For our meats we ordered the caramel chicken and the clay pot beef, which was so good we ordered another full order of the beef at the end of our meal to take home (but we ended up eating it). Our noodle dishe of Thai noodles (Pad Thai) and stir fried vegetables were both delicious, but we also wanted rice with our meal so we ordered the ginger fried rice as an additional menu item. The rice was good, but one of my friends found it too spicy (I did not) and another did not like the fried egg that topped it (so one of us ate the egg without having it mixed into the rice); it a personal taste issue, but better to know before ordering it that it can be both spicy and too eggy for some people.

We wanted cake for dessert, but since only ice creams and sorbets are offered at lunch, we passed and had some great drinks, like the Champagne and lychee which was a refreshing dessert-like drink for people who don’t like strong alcohol, and some dirty martinis for those of us who like our drinks strong (like me). Even the one who ordered a Coke loved the taste, remarking that it was a “really good Coke.”

Always good to know that a place is as wonderful the second time on the day after the first visit. The decor was even more remarkable this time because it was so empty at 3pm that we had the whole place to ourselves and we felt as if we had out own private food temple in the middle of Century City; this must be what nirvana feels like.

>RockSugar was so good yesterday that I went back today with 3 friends and we ordered the prix fixe lunch for four of us as well as an additional appetizer, side dish, and main course (we were all very hungry since it was about 3pm and none of us had eaten lunch).

I am happy to report that the service was again very efficient and friendly, and our food pleased even a very picky eater who commented “I thought this would be weird, but it tastes really good.” Just goes to prove that everyone can appreciate good food if they are simply brave enough to try something different.

We had the lacquered ribs as our additional appetizer and although they were sweet and sticky, they were not cloyingly so, and meaty enough for the four of us to share one plate. Our prix fixe for four included 2 salads, so we chose the green salad and the jicama with ruby grapefruit and candied walnuts, which was the favorite for all four of us. For our meats we ordered the caramel chicken and the clay pot beef, which was so good we ordered another full order of the beef at the end of our meal to take home (but we ended up eating it). Our noodle dishe of Thai noodles (Pad Thai) and stir fried vegetables were both delicious, but we also wanted rice with our meal so we ordered the ginger fried rice as an additional menu item. The rice was good, but one of my friends found it too spicy (I did not) and another did not like the fried egg that topped it (so one of us ate the egg without having it mixed into the rice); it a personal taste issue, but better to know before ordering it that it can be both spicy and too eggy for some people.

We wanted cake for dessert, but since only ice creams and sorbets are offered at lunch, we passed and had some great drinks, like the Champagne and lychee which was a refreshing dessert-like drink for people who don’t like strong alcohol, and some dirty martinis for those of us who like our drinks strong (like me). Even the one who ordered a Coke loved the taste, remarking that it was a “really good Coke.”

Always good to know that a place is as wonderful the second time on the day after the first visit. The decor was even more remarkable this time because it was so empty at 3pm that we had the whole place to ourselves and we felt as if we had out own private food temple in the middle of Century City; this must be what nirvana feels like.

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