It’s so ghetto, but in a good way,” stated a man with tattoos from Amsterdam who sat next to us while dining at Saramluang Cafe. He shared with us that he has lived in Los Angeles for over ten years and dines at Saramluang at least once a week. Call it a ghetto, dive, or bare bones; the food is the draw here.
A dear friend of mine invited me to lunch with her at her favorite Thai restaurant. She has been dining here since she was a doctor in residency at the nearby Children’s Hospital. One of her Thai co-workers discovered the tiny restaurant located in a strip mall, and took my friend one day. Of all the hundreds of Thai restaurants in our wonderful city, this woman felt Saramluang is the best. She stated, “nothing is bland on the menu” and it’s “as authentic as Thai food can get.”
As we took a seat at one of the few booth tables, the décor reminded me of the inside of a donut shop. It’s very basic, with white walls, paper napkins and a tiny kitchen. Our tablemate from Amsterdam was enjoying the sliced beef salad on a bed of mixed greens and tomatoes with a spicy lime dressing. He also devoured shrimp cakes served with a sweet and sour sauce. I tried the deep fried ground shrimp and found the appetizer too greasy for my taste buds.
My friend said that we must try the Emperor’s noodles, because it’s her favorite dish and she orders it every time. She asked the waitress to hold the squid. On a simple plate arrived a mound of wide and flat rice noodles with scrambled eggs, chicken and shrimp. The orange colored sauce on top was divine. When I asked the waitress what ingredients were in the sauce, she would not divulge their secret. It was heavenly. Next, we tried the yellow curry with chicken, potatoes and onions in coconut milk. Silly me, to ask for brown rice. I received a “you’ve got to be kidding” look from our server and was told that they only serve white rice. The curry was mild per our request, yet lacked the carrots and sweetness I enjoy from my favorite Thai restaurant.
The majority of the items are priced under $7. Thai women prepare each dish fresh to order. Not a lot of men work here, it’s mostly all women cooking, serving and managing the restaurant that has been in Hollywood for 25 years. Since it stays open nightly until 3 am, the place is usually packed with people late at night and in the early hours.
Next door is a Thai supermarket that is owned by the same family who own the restaurant. Sometimes my friend has seen a cook or server run next door to get ingredients for a dish. Parking is tight at this location, so be prepared to park a block away.
As we left, we said goodbye to our Amsterdam friend. “Wasn’t it beyond good?” he exclaimed. For the price, yes, but don’t go for the ambiance. $
5176 Hollywood Blvd. (323)660-8006.