Category Archives: Hollywood

Songkran Festival 2011 at Wat Thai Temple: I Came, Issan, I Ate

Wat Thai Temple

A good rule of thumb when spending the day in unfamiliar territory is to show up early and eat a good breakfast. When I arrived at the Wat Thai temple in North Hollywood I had followed only one of those rules; It was a few minutes before 10am and the vendors had just started to unload their wares. Needless to say, I was incredibly hungry. It was Songkran, celebrated in Thailand as the first day of the new year. The event was an eclectic mix of past and present: bald, orange-robed Buddhist monks roamed the grounds, vendors bowing politely as they passed; children ran through the temple gardens brandishing super soakers (Songkran is also know as the Festival of Water) while a youthful rock band on the main stage alternated between traditional Thai songs and those of Justin Bieber or Taylor Swift. Continue reading

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Sapp’s Coffee Shop: Tried and True in Thai Town

The Famed Boat Noodle Soup

     One of the realities about eating in Los Angeles is that an exceptional meal by definition is an ephemeral thing. A restaurant that is the toast of the town one month can suddenly change owners (see Ord Noodle), or swap chefs (see Mariscos Chente) or simply start failing to delivery on its own amassed hype (see Mo Chica). The point is life happens, seasons change, and for every astounding new restaurant that emerges, another starts to fall by the wayside. Yet, as in all things, they’re are exceptions to the rule. The best example I have seen in this particular case is that of the quiet strip mall gem, Sapp’s Coffee Shop. For years, Sapp’s Thai dishes have had praise heaped upon them from countless sources: Anthony Bourdain, Jonathan Gold, along with scores upon scores of bloggers. When I first moved to LA in 2006, I ate at Sapp’s on a friend’s recommendation and ordered the famous boat noodles. Like many others, I was floored by the intense and lingering flavor of the broth: sour, salty, spicy and sweet, each in perfect measure. Continue reading

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Sabina’s European Restaurant: Romanian Holiday

Sabina's Stuffed Cabbage

     Sabina, matron and namesake for the small strip-mall restaurant on Vine street, cuts a motherly figure. Even if you can’t claim any Eastern European heritage (though many patrons certainly do), she welcomes you will a with the unhurried and deliberate service of a woman who proudly serves a good home-cooked meal. She is not the kind of owner who delivers a forced smile or hangs on your every need, instead her only concern seems to be that you leave nourished with a belly full of hot food. The tiny dining room is filled with red pastel tables and chairs chipped from decades of use. The crimson colored cloth napkins are threadbare and musty, giving a sense of continuing tradition as you tuck them into your lap. Sabina hails from Romania, which can be discerned from either a glance at the travel agency photos of rustic countryside lining the walls or the short and hearty menu filled with Austro-Hungarian classics. Continue reading

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