Monday, July 2, 2012

Thai Town Tour

"Go beyond pad thai and chicken satay and savor authentic Thai dishes from the only Thai Town in the USA, a hidden treasure in East Hollywood."

This was the description of the Thai Town tour by Six Taste Food Tours.  On a random Sunday morning, Jimmy and I took the tour.  I was suspicious.  How authentic was this tour... will I actually learn anything?  To my surprise, both my hunger for food and cultural history were satisfied by an amazing tour guide who was a real local.

We were first introduced to the welcoming gate to Thai town on Hollywood and Western.  Unlike the gawdy Chinese dragon of Chinatown, these "statue depict “Apsonsi” a mythical half human-half lion creature that is said to protect and bring good luck. The project had wide support as a way to promote cultural tourism and economic development."

Khanom Buang topped with Foi Thong served at Silom Market
When I was in Bangkok, Jimmy and I stumbled on these vendors selling these amazing Thai desserts at a high traffic mall.  They were thai tacos / crepes were topped with sweet shredded eggs with coconut creme fillings.  I thought I would never ever find this again after leaving Thailand.  To my surprise, here they were up the high way from my house.  This was the first stop on the tour.

We had some mango sticky rice at Red Corner Asia where I got to know other folks on the tour.  Most of which were local tourist like myself.

On the tour I learned a lot about the community.  I was exposed to some hidden eateries such as Siam Sunset which is nested in a motel.  This place is known for their Thai breakfasts and cheap lunches.  I learned that Thai leaders would discuss politics at this restaurant.

I forgot what this dish is called, but it's intense Thai sausage.

It was endless eating.  We share other familiar things such as this duck noodle soup from Sanam Luang Cafe.

We were given a challenge to eat raw shrimp dipped in lime at Ruen Pair, which I passed... of course.

I was introduced this Thai Pork Jerky which is served with sticky rice from a hollowed bamboo.  You wrap the meat and dip it in a special sauce.  #12 on Ruen Pair's menu.  NOM NOM

This is our amazing guide who was born and raised in Thai Town and works for the community.  She showed us a picture of her family that was featured in a "Thais of Los Angeles."  She answered all of my questions about Thai politics, food and lifestyle.

She made us guess which rice is used to make sticky rice.  I guessed incorrectly.  :[ though it was a trick question!

I learned about spirit houses (san phra phum) which are shrines to the protective spirit of a place such as a house or a store. "Most houses and businesses have a spirit house placed in an auspicious spot, most often in a corner of the property...The house is intended to provide a shelter for spirits which could cause problems for the people if not appeased."  The one above is a shrine for the Thai market.  Every weekend monks gather and pray to the spirit house early in the morning before people arrive.

If you want a protective spirit to guard your property, the market sells one for a couple grand.

This is our group.  Aren't we touristy?

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