The menu at Ruen Pair can be a bit of a minefield, but for me, their specialty lay not with their Thai noodles or curries, but with rice, and my go-to dish for helping to soak up the booze from an evening of heavy drinking is ข้าวขาหมู khao kha muu rice with stewed pork leg.
I'd started really appreciating this dish while I was in Portland, where the restaurant Ping did an excellent version of it, and so this was a case of me trying to find the same cherished flavors from the Northwest.
Ruen Pair's version of stewed pork leg is meaty and rich, with a generous amount of pork and skin glistening atop rice that slowly soaks up all the juice, giving it a flavor reminiscent of Hainanese chicken rice. Pickled greens and a spicy dipping sauce go a long way toward balancing the dish, cutting through all that richness.
khao mu daeng
rice with BBQ pork
The Thai name for barbecue pork translates to "red pork", which refers to the Thai-style barbecue sauce glaze on the meat. Pictured above, the dish also comes with deep-fried pork belly to go with it. But for a real combination, order the ข้าวเฉโป khao che po, listed cha-po, described on the menu as "Combination of B.B.Q. pork, roasted duck, and deep fried bellie pork over rice with special sauce".
khao che po
Often times, spicy dishes are the only thing that a palate can register after a relentless assault from gin and whiskey. Ruen Pair's ยำไข่ดาว yum khai dao fried egg salad fits that bill nicely. It's a typical Thai "mix" salad, and it features fried eggs that have been cooked over hard, chopped up, and topped with a chili sauce. This dish does well on its own, but I find it pairs incredibly well with the stewed pork leg, as the egg offers a nice "change up" of flavor while still remaining in balance.
yum khai dao
fried egg "salad"
It didn't take long to get back into my stride (Hollywood and Thai Town were my old stomping grounds, after all). And Ruen Pair has resumed its role in my post-drinking sobering-up ritual. The rich and spicy dishes are salves, the waitresses administering them like Thai Florence Nightengales, shepherding my booze-addled mind down the path to recovery.