Monday, January 15, 2007

Pattaya Bay

A friend visiting from “Back East” was looking for something unlike the typical New York experience. Getting a late start on Saturday night, our options were limited since L.A. closes at 10 pm. We ventured to the Thai Town section of East Hollywood where one can usually dine well at any hour. We settled on a favorite of mine, the Pattaya Bay Thai Restaurant, which is located in a misshapen, unsightly, southward facing strip center on the west side of 1727 N. Vermont Ave.

My wife and I went there for an early dinner one Sunday after reading a nice L.A. Times review. The restaurant is ugly and dirty, and though not a dump, it definitely earns its B rating from the Department of Public Health. It has a karaoke stage and an outsized television. At a nearby four-top, one customer bore a striking resemblance to Sloth Fratelli, both physically and linguistically. (His associates also spoke in grunt so it was fine.) In ordering, we hewed closely to the Irene Virbila playbook. We were enamored by the spicy, green papaya salad that was suffused with lime and fragments of dried shrimp. The larb, an interesting dish of ground chicken with red onions, plentiful cilantro and chili and what the restaurant translated as “spicy & sour dressing,” was thoroughly enjoyed. Finally, we liked the chicken in green curry with creamy coconut milk, soft eggplant and green chile paste. Everything was very fresh.

So I returned with my friend. At 11pm, the restaurant had several customers but was not lively. Not taking any chances, I ordered the same dishes as before and my friend added pad thai and a dishwater of a soup called Tom Yum Kung–Nang.

While awaiting our food, we watched a short Thai man who wore a large white napkin like a mangled ascot and the same ill-conceived mustache that one sees in central Ohio sing a rendition of When The Saints Go Marching In. Actually, he just repeated the song’s signature verse and when that proved too much even for him to bear, he added his own line or taunt, as it were, that the New Orleans professional football franchise would emerge victorious in the Super Bowl. No one in the restaurant paid any attention to him, and he received no applause. Another man then took the stage and gave a searing performance of George Harrison’s Something, albeit with a thick Korean accent. Again, no one paid any attention and he received no applause.

Nursing a cold, all I could really taste was the fire of the chiles and that foul soup. I can't wait to return.

Pattaya Bay
1727 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Feliz
(323) 666-0880

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