Friday, August 28, 2009

Pad Thai, Patbingsoo and the Change Machine

My cousin D and I have craving some thai food so we decided to hit up Thai Town. I haven't been back in LA for a few years now so I wasn't sure where to go. I feel like there is such high turnover of restaurants in LA, what was popular a year ago, might not even be around anymore. We decided to check out Pailin Thai on Hollywood Blvd., between Wilshire and Western. It's a tiny place, easy to miss if you're not paying attention. When we got there around 8:30 pm, all the tables were full. I think there were about 4 booths on one side of the table and a few makeshift tables on the other side. I think it's always a good sign when the place is packed. Once we were seated, the most adorable kid (owner's 11 year old son) came and took our drink order. Throughout the meal, I saw him refilling other patron's water cups and even clearing up some of the tables. It was nice to see a family-runned business, especially when the kids are helping out too. It was endearing to see.

After taking a peek at their menu, we decided on the pad thai and duck curry. We were debating between the pad kee mao or the pad thai and opted for the pad thai instead since we thought the curry might be quite spicy. It turned out that the curry wasn't spicy at all, but I'm glad we tried the pad thai anyway. I think a thai restaurant's barometer of authenticity is often the pad thai. So many places make pad thai doused in ketchup or make it way too sweet, but Pailin's was pretty spot on. There were several pieces of large shrimp in the dish, with the peels taken off for easier consumption. I usually have to ask for chili paste if the dish is a bit bland, but none was required yesterday.
We also ordered the duck curry. I've only tasted two duck curries in my life, the other one being at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, which was superb. This one was alright, not very memorable. I wasn't a big fan of the pineapple in the curry, but the duck, which was thinly sliced, with bamboo shoots were good. I had wished the curry had chunks of duck rather than thin slices of it.
D also ordered a thai ice tea for $1. Yes, $1. All of the dishes in fact were reasonably priced. I think our order of two entrees and a drink, with tip came out to less than $20. What a bargain! That's pretty hard to come by these days. I would definitely come back and check out the other items on their menu. I spied some fried rice that looked pretty good and also heard that their shrimp balls were pretty delish.

After our tasty meal, we headed to ktown to get some patbingsoo. Patbingsoo is korean shaved ice with red bean paste and condensed milk. I had an awesome fruit patbingsoo on a hot, balmy day at Haus Dessert Boutique a few weeks ago, so we opted to go there. The unique thing about their patbingsoo is that it comes in a frozen ice bowl that is filled to the brim with shaved ice, milk, red bean paste, fruit and mochi.

Last time I was there, it was really hot so the ice melted pretty fast and the shaved ice was quite soft, but last night, it looks as though the shaved ice was sitting out for awhile b/c the ice flakes froze together and was harder to eat. D commented that she didn't taste any condensed milk and it seemed like they added milk with some sort of sweetener. It was, however, filled with strawberries, bananas, mangoes, pineapples and kiwis. The fruit was fresh and ripe and D really liked the mochi (the thing that looks like uni in the picture), which tasted like it had roasted grain powder in it. I think it's a genius idea to have a frozen ice bowl to keep the shaved ice from melting. It wasn't quite as necessary last night, but it's a pretty display nevertheless. We eyed another table next to us who ordered soft serve ice cream and it was piled at least a foot high in its dense, glorious icy wonder. I'll have to try it next time.

Now for the change machine... my cousin D, while we were passing OMC, one of the huge korean churches in ktown, reminisced about how our parents enrolled us in Vacation Bible School one summer not knowing it was a religious program. I think they just thought it was free child care. We laughed about how confused we were that we were studying the bible and how everyone else seemed to know all these biblical stories except for us. We laughed about how walking to KFC back then was like going to Canaan, but how we always needed an escort to cross the street. D told me a story about how she needed change for a dollar, so one of her friends takes her to where one is. Two little girls stare up at a tall machine that has just swallowed their dollar bill. Meanwhile, a group of kids who had been staring at them for awhile, came by, pressed a button and snatched the can of coke that tumbled down. Poor D and her friend. They had no idea that their change machine was in fact a soda vending machine. They got their first taste of getting swindled at the tender age of seven. Ahh, to be a kid again. =)

Pailin Thai Cuisine
5621 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028

Haus Dessert Boutique
3826 W 6th St.
Los Angeles, CA 90020


  1. Dude, no wonder you were distracted. While I was chatting up a storm, you were making very precise observations about our surroundings so you could blog about it! haha jk

    I am impressed by your camera. The pictures came out so well, as in, the food looks yummy. Also, I like this listing of the restaurants with address at the end as a summary. It reminds me of stories in food section for NY times, LA times,, etc :) haha that Uni comment...I was thinking the same thing all night.


  2. what kind of camera are u using for these pics? you should invest in an SLR now :)

    Okay -- next comment.. HELLO?!~ why haven't you guys taken me to this patbingsoo place?!!~???~?~