Living due south of Thai Town, I am within spitting range of some of the best Thai food in the US. When I first came to LA, I relied on the obvious picks of Palm Thai and Ruen Pair (then conveniently located in the same strip mall). Since then, I've branched out quite a bit. For a while, my loyalties were with the little known Hollywood Thai, but they took a turn for the worse...then I found the glory that is Yai.
I started out at the first Yai, in a little strip mall anchored by a 7-11 on Hollywood Boulevard, but earlier this year they opened a much larger space in the Jon's Market/Fatburger strip mall on the west side of Vermont, north of Sunset, known as Yai's on Vermont.
I've never been disappointed with a dish at Yai, but my absolute favorite is the roasted pork with Chinese broccoli or mustard greens. Succulent bits of fatty fried pork, like a Thai chicharron, are stir fried with chopped veggies and served in the most amazing broth of rich pork juice drippings. To top it off is the wonderfully spicy fish sauce with chilis that is the Yai house condiment.
Pad Thai khron khan is a spicy version of the Thai street food classic. It lacks the bright orange color and the sweetness of the versions you get most places, presumably meaning they hold back on the tamarind paste. Again, topping it with the house fish sauce does wonders, making a spicy, pungent pad thai.
They also do a great, slightly sweet deep fried pork and all the classic Thai soups and salads.
Having spent most of the last two weeks at the behemoth Kaiser complex on Sunset Boulevard, I was deeply appreciative of the proximity of this Thai great.
Yai's on Vermont
1627 N. Vermont Ave.
Los Angeles, CA 90028