Tag Archives: Thai

A Glimpse of Thai Town in LA vs Sydney

I’ve always been curious about Thai Town in LA. So, another key thing, apart from visiting my cousin and his family, was to check it out. With a short time I had, I was looking for fragments that could tell some similarities and differences from Thai Town in Sydney. Not many established Thai overseas communities in this planet: LA and Sydney.

There wasn’t much time in the city. The plan was to see it in the day and night. By day was to walk along Hollywood Boulevard get glimpse of the Thai Town strip. Then, I needed to find out where Thais go out at night. And I would do those with my latest experience of Sydney in 2016 in my mind.

Obviously, the area stretched wider along the road than Sydney. Still, the two Thai Towns had similar shops: restaurants and grocers. I was pretty sure that I could find anything from Thailand in LA as much as I did in Sydney.

What I could observe, they looked they’d passed their peak. Lots of signs were decade old and some were broken, deserted, and frozen in time. It was Thanksgiving Holiday but the area was quite quiet, to my surprise. Sydney Thai Town would be busy on the long weekend like this.

I was able to find out from a Thai staff where to go at night. And apparently, the place where Thais went was just in the same block as where I had lunch.

After a movie, (2001: The Space Odyssey screening at Egyptian Theatre was such a fortunate timing to be there.) I got to Darabar Secret Thai Cuisine. It was just the right place. The bar was full with three birthday parties. All the patrons were Thais. T-pop live music was on stage. And you could get a bottle of Black Label for the table. What could be more Thai than that?

Back in In Sydney in 2016, I was taken to C-Bar, in Thai Town more than once by different peeps. It was good to see pubs for Thais to hang out even though the crowd was mixed. Thai community had come a long way. Those things weren’t there when I left Sydney in late 2010. And I was glad to see them.

It was impossible to get a deep picture of the community in LA as I could in Sydney, where I spent my life almost a decade. However, something told me that Thai identity was rooted deeper in LA than Sydney. Whereas Sydney had been catching up with more contemporary Thai pop culture than LA.

Ultimately, you could be able to tell that there was something about being Thai—whatever it is— wherever in the world. What an embrace!

Side note: the weather was a bugger. Coming from the cold in DC and hitting warm in LA was a challenge. It was steamy walking to Thai Town and then foggy and chilly at night when getting back there for a Thai pub. It reminded me a lot of autumn time in Sydney.

Tee Rak

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When a friend in LA message me on Facebook how she loved this Thai film, Eternity (Tee Rak) he saw in the film festival over there, I was anticipating to see it but not sure if I ever get a chance. Either it had already been screened before I was back in the country or would never seen the light in Thai cinemas. Until Wise Kwai blogged about it as a limited screening, I just had to put it my weekend schedule.

There is something about this film that moves you without following the classic story telling rules. The tagline is just about the love of a young couple which happens to be the parents of Siraroj Kongsakul, the director. He tells the story through snipplets of memories of his late father, mainly on the young girl’s first visit to his hometown. And that is it, no big arguement between them or no culture crash of the city girl and the country folks.

Everything is understated. The transitions of the first sequence to the main story and the last act are very subtle. Some scenes are just the two people talking without cutting and they even turn their back on the camera. We can only see medium shots of them each twice. But when these strings of momeries are tied up together, it becomes a haunting experience.

A great love story always comes with pain. In this film, it subsides so deeply that you can only feel it. We see the adorable ones build their relationship along the journey but in the end, nothing lasts and one has to live with it, like anyone of us will…

Coconut Milk Dipping Sauce with Salted Soy Bean

This is one of my favourite dish my parents used to make for dinner.  There are a lot of versions of หลน (Lon), in Thai. Some uses fermented bean curd and add crab. My version is just what I could find in Sydney.

Ingredients

  • Spanish onion, sliced — 100 g
  • Long green chillies, sliced — 100 g
  • Coriander roots — 2
  • Salted soy bean — 2 tablespoon
  • Coconut milk — 1 cup
  • Minced beef — 150 g (ideally, the mixture of pork and prawn but canned tuna works as well)
  • Tamarind puree — 1 teaspoon or to taste
  • Fish sauce — 1 tablespoon or to taste
  • Sugar — just a pinch

Direction

  1. Pound coriander roots, half of the onion and half of the chillies into paste then add salted soy bean and blend the mixture.
  2. Boil coconut milk in a small saucepan, add the mixture and bring it to boil again.
  3. Add meat and keep stirring until it is cooked then put the rest of the onion and the chillies.
  4. The taste should be balanced with salted soy bean, fish sauce, tamarind puree and a touch of sugar.
  5. Simmer it until the onion and the chillies are soft and the sauce is thick. Occasionally stir.
  6. It is essential to serve with fresh vegetable and rice because the sauce is very creamy and rich.