There are few dishes that I crave more frequently than pad thai. Although some might categorize it as an unadventurous default dish, pad thai combines some of my favorite comfort food elements--noodles (a.k.a carbohydrate goodness), shrimp (the only seafood I touched until this year) and Asian flavors (Japanese; from Hawaii; you get it).
After sampling many restaurants' take on the dish and being disappointed by most, I finally stumbled upon Pailin Thai Cuisine about a year ago and, now, it is specifically their pad thai that I crave.
Located in Hollywood, Pailin Thai offers traditional Thai fair as well as regional off-the-menu specials (fans of these more adventurous dishes include Tony of SinoSoul and Zach of Midtown Lunch). What is most charming about the restaurant, however, is not its small size or its Buddhist-inspired decor but its family feel; your server will either be the owner or one of his two adorable children.
On the most recent visit, there were three in our party--one of whom was a Pailin newbie. To give our out-of-town guest a well-rounded experience, we all ordered Thai iced teas ($1.00) and chicken satay ($5.95) as an appetizer. It is difficult to beat either the taste or the price of the milky sweet Thai iced tea, and the fresh, homemade peanut dipping sauce make these tender satays a winner.
Branching out from his usual panang chicken curry ($5.50, also highly recommended), J ordered the roasted duck curry (red curry with coconut milk, pineapple, tomato and basil, $6.95). The flavor of the hearty and spicy curry base was sweetened and brightened up by the addition of coconut milk and pineapple, and the mild flavor of the bite-sized pieces of duck tied everything together. J was pleased with his decision to try something new.
My friend and I both ordered the pad thai--I with shrimp ($6.50), and he with chicken ($5.25). Abandoning all sense of propriety, I twirled huge forkfuls of steaming, flavorful noodles mixed with peanut crumbles into my mouth and then added a bean sprout (or two) and a bite of snappy shrimp to get all the flavors in one bite. After inhaling most of the plate, I stopped, leaving four bites or so for a snack the next day.
After re-visiting this most recent, deliciously satisfying meal at Pailin for this post, I think I may be in need of another fix soon...
Pailin Thai Cuisine
5621 Hollywood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90028