Tantawan Thai Kitchen

Will noticed a sign that said “Boat noodles” while driving down Garvey one day on his way to a vegetarian Vietnamese restaurant for lunch. Knowing my love of boat noodles, he immediately reported it to me and that’s how we ended up at Tantawan Thai Kitchen one day for dinner.  The place must be newly opened because the sign for the previous restaurant (a pho place) is still up despite the “Grand Opening” Tantawan Thai banner also being up.

Pad kee mao for dinner.

While there are no outright vegetarian items on the menu, Will was able to order a modified pad kee mao sans fish/shrimp sauce and meat and add in some fried tofu.  It came out looking good and tasted alright, but it wasn’t anything to write home about. I found the fried tofu a little tough and bland.

Okay boat noodles.

I ordered the boat noodle soup and was mildly disappointed. It wasn’t bad, but it also wasn’t on the same level as Sapp’s.  The broth was lacking a little of that funky taste I like and was a bit on the sweet side.  The special hot sauce they brought out with it didn’t improve it much.  The noodles were a little too clumped up when they came. The bowl of noodles wasn’t even on the same level as Hoy Kha so I’ll probably continue going to the Monterey Park location of Hoy Kha for my spicy boat noodle needs.

I was hoping for a great Thai place that would replace my need to drive over to east Hollywood for good Thai cooking, but maybe that hype led to my disappointment in this place.

Tantawan Thai Kitchen
9000 E Garvey Ave
Unit C & D
Rosemead, CA
(626) 288-1527

Pok Pok (Portland)

What visit to Portland is complete without a meal at Pok Pok?  Although Los Angeles has more than a handful of well-known, authentic Thai restaurants, I had to try this one in Portland. At first, I was a bit skeptical about a non-Thai cooking Thai, but after tasting his food, Andy Ricker is legit.

Tamarind whisky sour and a limeaid.

We started off with some liquid refreshments to help us through the hot and humid weather.  Will got a lime-aid while I opted for a tamarind whisky sour.  The whisky sour hit the spot with a slight sweetness from the tamarind and a whole lot of tang.

Pok pok papaya salad

Next, we shared a vegetarian papaya salad.  While the papaya was crisp and fresh, there was a slight bitterness from the lime. It was also missing that characteristic funk I like with my papaya salad which usually comes in the form of fermented fish or small crab and fish sauce.  I would recommend getting this in its fishy glory instead of going for the vegetarian version.

Pok pok grilled eggplant.

I then had the grilled eggplant salad, which the waiter warned was quite spicy. This was perfect because I love a spicy but cold salad on a hot day.  The eggplant was charred perfectly and kept its smokey aroma.  The pungent and spicy dressing cut down on the rich, yellow, egg yolk from the hard boiled egg. The flesh of the eggplant was a wonderful softness that paired well with the crisp slices of raw onion.

Pok pok curry noodles

Will had the vegetarian curry noodle soup, which had a great flavor.  Slightly spiced from the curry paste, and a mellow sweetness from the coconut milk made up for the lack of meat taste in the broth.  He was tempted to come back another day and order this again. It’s such a simple and wholesome dish, I’m sad that no where in LA has it.

Pok Pok
3226 Southeast Division Street
Portland, OR 97202
(503) 232-1387

Bring Your Own Pork Rind @ Pa Ord

Pa Ord was my destination on one of those work from home days. It’s a somewhat new Thai noodle restaurant in Thai town, but its owner is definitely not a novice to the area, having previously run Ord a few blocks away before selling it to someone else.


If you haven’t tried Thai sausage before and you’re a fan of meat in tube form, order a plate of these for an appetizer. They’re slightly spicy, slightly tangy, and full-on tasty. I like having a slice of this and then a slice of the included cabbage for a refreshing palate cleanser. If you’re worried about having major garlic-breath after this, chew on the included slices of ginger.


I couldn’t come here without ordering Thai boat noodles with everything on it. Yes, give me all that organ meat goodness. Pa Ord luckily has a small and normal serving of the noodles, which meant I could order a small bowl of this and still have stomach space for something different. They also ask you what type of noodles you’d like, so if you’re a fan of the flat rice noodles, you can have those in the broth instead of the usual.

The waitress warned that I should get the mild broth instead of the medium spicy broth but I assured her that I was man enough for the medium. I have to say, the medium is quite a spicy medium. I’d consider it a ‘spicy’ at most western restaurants. The broth tasted a bit sweet, tangy, salty, and had that distinct rich flavor that boat noodle broth is known to have. The noodles were also nicely separated and not one giant clump, which meant that they didn’t sit around for too long. The various meats were all nicely tender, flavorful, and clean tasting.

I did miss the fried pork rind that usually tops the noodles. Pa Ord’s version just has fried wonton strips. Some patrons at the table next to me cleverly brought their own bag of pork rinds to crumble and put into their soup, which is something I’ll have to keep in mind for next time.


I also ordered a small bowl of the Tom Yum noodles just to have some variety. The broth was sour and spicy, and the slices of barbecue pork were reminiscent of Chinese char-siu. While this bowl of noodles was decent and had nothing wrong with it, I have to say that my favorite is still the Thai Boat noodles. There’s just something addictive about the spicy, bloody broth.

Pa Ord manages to look clean and hip while still looking like a Thai restaurant I’d want to eat at. Most of the patrons I saw while having lunch there were Thai and they all seemed very happy about their meal — always a good sign. It’s a few blocks further than my usual go-to spot for Thai boat noodles, Sapp, but the quality of meat was much better compared to the last time I was at Sapp, so maybe this will have to be my new go-to spot.

Pa Ord
5301 Sunset Blvd. #8
Los Angeles, CA 90027
(323) 461-3945