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Pailin Thai

by on 04 November 2012

Pailin serves some of the best Thai food in Los Angeles, but doesn't seem to garner the same press as the late night haunts or the super spicy. The restaurant offers many of the standards Angelenos come to expect out of a Thai Town restaurant, as well as some homestyle Thai favorites. That is, if you can read the menu.

Khanom JiinKhanom Jiin Nam Ya

khanom chin / khanom chin nam ya

One of the classic "any time of day" dishes you might enjoy in Thailand is ขนมจีน khanom chin, a pasta-like dish that literally translates to Chinese noodles. The ragu is sometimes a mild coconut milk based sauce, but one of the more common version of the dish is ขนมจีนน้ำยา khanom chin nam ya, or the "wild style". This refers to a spicier version that includes fish sauce to give it a salty, fermented punch.

Papaya Salad

som tam
papaya salad

Of course, there's ส้มตำ som tam papaya salad available as well, which comes with tiny dried shrimp by default, but you could also order with salty crab.

One dish that I'm beginning to see throughout many restaurants in Thai Town (or perhaps have only now noticed) is ไส้กรอก อีสาน sai krok isan, Isaan-style summer sausage. Its slightly sour flavor profile is tempered with the raw cabbage and peanuts with which it's served, but this bar snack pairs best with beer.

Thai Sausage

ไส้กรอก อีสาน
sai krok isan
Isaan-style sausage



You'll do just fine staying on the menu at Pailin, but there are a few very exceptional dishes available on the specials board, written only in Thai. This whiteboard changes up every now and then, and I never got a chance to try the first dish listed using baby clams. But here are the next three.

First up is หอยจ๊อ hoi cho -- a "rolled" sausage of crab and pork. The exterior indicates frying as part of the preparation, but I couldn't quite tell. My buddy Nita told me later that it's tofu skin, similar to the Japanese inari.

Crab and Pork Sausage

hoi cho
crab and pork sausage

Next up is one of my favorites here at Pailin, and whose photo is the headlining photo as well. It's the ปูนิ่มผัด pu nim phat stir-fried soft-shell crab. Here is a closeup:

Stir Fried Soft Shell Crab (closeup)

pu nim phat
stir-fried soft-shell crab

Great heat on this dish, nice aromatics coming from the fried basil, and it's all balanced nicely when paired with steamed white rice. Soft shell crab is one of my favorite ingredients, and the flavor comes through even with all the spicy heat present.

Finally, here's a photo of the ซี่โครงหมูแหนม si khrong mu naem -- fermented pork spareribs. The ribs are left to marinate in a garlic sauce for a few days to impart a sour flavor. Just like the sour sausage earlier, this makes for a great bar snack.

Fermented Pork Ribs

si khrong mu naem
fermented pork spareribs

Pailin's cooking is approachable as well as exciting, and while other places in Thai Town hit higher highs with particular dishes, Pailin is certainly one of my favorite all around Thai restaurants.

Pailin Thai is one of my favorite all-around Thai restaurants.

Pailin Thai's cooking is approachable as well as exciting. From the specials board (written only in Thai) to a menu of comforting Thai favorites, it's is one of my favorite all-around restaurants in Thai Town.
4 / 5 stars
Pailin Thai
5621 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90028