Yai, Twice (Los Angeles, Summer 2013)

yai2-boat-noodlesWith my carefully honed skill for the obvious, I noted in my review of our recent meal at Jitlada that there are other places to eat as well in Thai Town and that most of them are far less expensive. They’re not necessarily far less excellent though. Evidence for this claim: Yai. We ate two lunches here a week apart from each other; one was excellent and the other was just quite good.

Yai is a bit of a hole in the wall in a strip mall on Hollywood Blvd. (between Wilton and Van Ness) anchored by a 7-Eleven and is cash-only. The aesthetic of the small room is functional (you’re really not paying for ambience here), but the flavours of the food are baroque. At our first meal we arrived at noon and were only the second table seated, but by the time we left at 1.10 the place was hopping. We didn’t order much by our standards, but everything was excellent.

We ate past stuffing, took a lot home for dinner, and paid a little over $50 with tax and tip.

For our second meal we arrived at about 12.15 and the place was already mostly full (and as on the first occasion, the clientele was largely Thai). We decided to eat completely different things. Everything was very good again but, on the whole, did not hit the highs of the first meal. This may have been because for whatever reason the kitchen didn’t seem to make anything particularly hot, despite our asking for everything Thai hot (and the waitress confirming). Ah well.

The heat issue aside, I think the reason our meal last week worked so well is that the soup on that occasion was so bright and sharp and cut through the more cloying pork and fish dishes. On the second occasion, however, the soup was itself somewhat cloying and rich and as a result we didn’t have a balanced order. Still, everything was some orders of magnitude above the standard in the Twin Cities*. We once again ate till we were stuffed and took a lot home for dinner; the bill this time, with tax and tip, did not cross $50. A great deal for very good food. I think we’ll probably be back at Yai again in August (but I think we might wait another year for our next meal at Jitlada).

*Though as I say that, I have to note that our last meal at On’s Kitchen in St. Paul was really quite good (with two dishes that wouldn’t have been out of their league at either Yai or Jitlada).

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