I hadn’t been to eat Thai food since my Soi 56 adventures so a trip to Thai Town was brewing. A friend suggested Thai Patio, and off we went.
Let me say this up front: the food is actually worth the peculiar decor. What decor, you might ask. Well, just walk in and have a seat.
You are surrounded by a complete hotchpotch of wall hangings. Royal portraits, a terribly blue tinted fish tank, a conglomeration of crates that once contained dinner napkins and Singha beers in a corner, an ATM, two television sets and a fairly decrepit looking bar complete the look. There is a live band on one side of the restaurant, and for some cheerful yet odd reason, Christmas decorations still up in February.
We sit down to Eric Clapton tunes sung by the sole guitar wielding musician (who takes requests), and order some tom yum soup for our party of four, Penang curry (coconut milk and chilli paste), larb gai (minced chicken salad), a pot of mussels, and rice. Free refills are available on sodas which arrive with crushed ice, if you’d like some Coca Cola to go with those old Coke posters you’ll spy among the bevy of wall decorations. Everything arrives post haste and in large quantities, and in we tuck.
Beware the fiery tom yum soup, which is so spicy that it catches in your throat. It’s delicious, but full of deceitful little pieces of chillies that slip into innocent spoonfuls. I didn’t have as much of it as I would have liked – it is simply too much effort despite the excellent shrimp and mushrooms in it.
The Penang curry is delightfully mild, a relief following the soup. We had ours with pork, but you can substitute that with chicken or beef.
Onto the larb gai. This one hit the nail on the head with its perfect proportions of some of my favourite ingredients – onions, lime, and cilantro.
Muscle your way through the bucket of mussels as they’re enormous, both in quantity and in size. We didn’t finish ours, but they were quite tasty especially chased with chilli-lime sauce. The broth wasn’t particularly tasty, and I will say that I prefer smaller mussels myself to avoid the overly fleshy feel. Despite this, this batch was very well cooked and went down well.
‘Sticky rice with mango’ proclaims the board across from our table. I am not usually a sticky rice fan, but dessert is advised, nay, prescribed, after some of those incendiary dishes. The creamy, sticky rice arrives in the midst of sweet mango pieces, and an extraneous maraschino cherry tucked in headfirst into a blob of cream. The mango is excellent, not an alphonso by any means, but certainly not your average grocery store travesty. Thai Patio must have an excellent fruit supplier, because the fresh coconut water I ordered to go with my meal was wonderfully sweet too.
If you're in the mood and want to stray from coop, sty, sea or shed, frog and boar are available on the menu as well.
To go with the ambiance, the restaurant is shockingly cheap with dishes ranging between $5-$10. Service is laid-back without being languid, and let's face it, the live music lends a cheery feel that's hard to dislike. Given the generally high quality of the food, the verdict is that it’s an excellent choice for Thai food in LA. Last but not least, the pachyderm topped serving dishes are rather fun.
Parking is available on the street or in the strip mall that houses Thai Patio: $2 valet for 90 minutes.
5273 Hollywood Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA
Telephone: 323 466 3894
Hours: Monday-Thursday 11 a.m.-midnight; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 2 a.m.; Sunday 4 p.m. - midnight
RATING: 4.5 OUT OF 5 FRIED BANANAS