THAI TOWN

Thai Town is a tiny neighborhood in LA, only about six blocks in East Hollywood — really just a speck on the overall city map. But it’s size does not denote its significance to Los Angeles: many of its restaurants frequently appear on “best of” round-ups (Jitlada, anyone?), it’s the only designated Thai Town in the entire country, AND its proximity to Hollywood and the Eastside mean that nightlife and all kinds of LA landmarks are right at your fingertips.

And in just a handful of city blocks, you can have an all-out LA experience: dinner with a Thai Elvis, hot Armenian donuts filled with creamy Nutella, drinks at Harvard & Stone, and a show of tattooed punk rockers at an exotic-dance club. Finish it all of with a 2am bowl of noodles, and you’ll have an evening Anthony Bourdain would be jealous of.

Stop 1: Raw Cane Super Juice

Healthy and nutritious weren’t two words that immediately came to mind as we headed to Thai Town, but that’s certainly what we found at our first stop, Raw Cane Super Juice. Now you might think “cane” and “sugar” are inter-changeable words, but we learned that’s just not so.

Cane is the sister plant to wheat grass, high in amino acids and with low glycemic levels — it also helps with liver health. We ordered a Detox Elixir (ginger, cayenne, lemon, cane juice) and a Leaves & Grass smoothie (dark greens, lemon, avocado), which were both refreshing and sweet. The owner of Raw Cane Super Juice is Chinese, but grew up in Thailand (where cane juice is popular), and they now sell their cane to Juice Served Here as sweetener for their juices.

(5301 Sunset Blvd, #7, Los Angeles)

Stop 2: Silom Supermarket

By now, you probably know that we love any kind of Asian market. They usually offer up fantastic ready-to-eat options at low prices and have all kinds of goodies you can’t find anywhere else. And Silom is no exception. As we walked in, we spotted a white-haired man making “Thai Tacos” on a small grill — with eggs, salt, and flour. They cook and package fresh lunches ranging from $3.50 to $5.50: bbq pork satay with rice, chicken satay with vegetables, Rub Kai with lime and fresh cilantro.

We also made a stop in the Thai candy aisle, and bought several bags of spicy Lays potato chips (in a flavor we still aren’t sure of, but it was delicious!)

(5321 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 3: Dokya Bookstore

The best things are usually hard to find, and Dokya Bookstore is located through the back parking lot of Silom Market, invisible from the street. Outside, the racks of billowing cotton pants and dresses adorned with elephants look like something you’d find on the beaches of Phuket. Inside, this bookstore offers and and every thing, from Thai DVDs and cookbooks to art work and free travel brochures to Thai hair tonics and herbs. We couldn’t resist the tamarind & goat milk soap, plus a colorful canvas bag for future travels.

(5321 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles — in the back parking lot)

Stop 4: Sapp Coffee Shop

All of that exploring got us pretty hungry, so we sauntered down Hollywood Boulevard to our beloved Sapp Coffee Shop (which isn’t a coffeeshop at all, fyi).

This is a no-frills family-run restaurant that serves up some of the best soups in town (the Thai boat noodles are famous!) We ordered the Jade Noodles, named for the green-tinged noodles and topped with bbq pork, roast duck and crab meat; the Yum Woon Sen (a glass noodle salad with shrimp, squid and pork); and the Chili Garlic Stir-Fry with ground chicken and basil (we added a fried egg for $1.25). We washed it down with a coconut juice and thai iced tea.

Insider’s tip: Cash only.

(5183 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 5: Urban Social House

There’s one thing you won’t find a whole lot of in Thai Town, and that’s coffeeshops. But we’re a-okay with that, because a neighborhood really only needs one good one, and you’ve got it at Urban Social House. All their food items — sandwiches, fresh salads, pie — are made from scratch with local ingredients, they play good music, and use some real quality espresso beans. Don’t miss the cozy lounge up the stairs in back.

(5220 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

Stop 6: Papillon Bakery

This place is what dessert dreams are made of. Now, Papillon offers a whole variety of yummy goodies — peroshki, empanadas, cookies. But it is the panchiks (Armenian donuts) that made them famous and the reason for which you come. TRUST US.

These hot, chewy, sugar-topped donuts arrive to you fresh out the oven, and the sweet smell and the warmth emanating from the box are enough to do you in right then and there. “Please. I really hope I don’t like these,” Ashley whispered as the panchiks arrived. And when you bite in, fluffy pastry and the bursts of Nutella filling will probably make you moan out loud. (Don’t worry, the staff is used to it).

We were gluttonous, so we ordered several more, filled with pumpkin, dulce de leche, and Ferrero Roche (the Nutella and Ferrero Roche were a tie for us!) Don’t miss the Oreo-drizzled churros, as well. (And this is all coming from a duo where one person doesn’t like donuts and one who doesn’t like churros).

(5019 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles)

The Details:

We arrived at the Hollywood/Western Station, and walked the rest of the day. All Hollywood Boulevard connections are available here.

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