Many Thai food lovers in the L.A. area are quite familiar with this place in Thai Town, known for its comfort noodles.
There is another Sanamluang in Pomona that I actually prefer because it serves more seafood and other menu options, in bright orange plates to boot!
It's my family's standby Thai restaurant, when trying to think of something casual and inexpensive that everyone will enjoy.
These Deep Fried Fish Cakes are a prime example. I'm not sure what kind of fish they use, but it's pounded into a paste (bones removed) and blended with herbs, green beans, chilies and then fried.
They are crunchy outside and steaming soft inside. The side salad of cucumbers, red onions, peanuts and jalapeno chilies in a sweet and sour sauce help balance them out.
Their Tom-Yum-Goong, or spicy shrimp soup with mushrooms, lemon grass, lime juice, herbs and chilis comes piping hot and spicy. The sweet, sour, salty, bitter, hot typical Thai flavors are in great balance.
Pad Kee Mow noodles are almost always on the menu. It's something they have mastered. These spicy flat noodles are sauteed with green chilies, mint leaves, onions and bell papers.
It comes with choice of protein or vegetables. We often order it with ground chicken, as shown above.
My Thai friend Lisa often orders Pad Ka Pow to check out Thai restaurants. This dish of fried chili with ground chicken and mint leaves served over rice always satisfies despite being so simple.
My mother does not like to eat out much, and it's this Spicy Catfish dish that will get her out. Catfish is a staple in our Bengali culture's cuisine and we enjoy it just as much the Thai way.
Sanamluang prepares the deep fried catfish slices with red curry, chili, basil, bell pepper and herbs. The fish stays crunchy and the sauce packs a spicy punch while maintaining a fresh, herbal after taste.
It's great on steamed rice. In fact even the sauce alone tastes great with rice.
Despite the food's inherent spiciness, I like to add the roasted dry chili powder AND the sliced Thai chilies in fish sauce.
In fact I love this sauce so much I learned how to say this condiment's name in Thai language - Prik Nam Pla.
Sometimes after overdoing the condiments, a milky drink is in order to extinguish the heat.
I often add chili sauces to the point where my nose starts running and my head sweats a bit. In these cases, the Thai Iced Coffee with boba hits the spot. It also helps cut the "food coma" feeling if you've overindulged.
While I don't order dessert very often, when it's in season during the summer, one of my favorite all time desserts is Thai style Mango with Sticky Rice (Khao Niaow Ma Muang).
Sanamluang doesn't make the best version I've had, but it's still solid. They use sweet and tart Filipino mangoes. It's topped with crunchy mung beans.
We usually ask for extra coconut sauce to pour over the rice, as the rice can feel a bit dry.
Overall, this may not be my very favorite Thai restaurant in town, and it's a bit of a drive to the edges of L.A., but Sanamluang provides consistent, reliable, comfort Thai food. And that can never be a bad thing.