There's this hidden gem in Los Angeles, a tiny Thai street food market that is as authentic a Thai experience as one can get - without flying to Bangkok.
It's tucked away in a little parking lot of a Buddhist temple, called Wat Thai, in North Hollywood. It's a quiet residential street, tucked in amongst rows of homes and families going to and fro. But every weekend, the area comes alive as Thai vendors set up shop and sell their family recipes. Things like coconut cakes, green papaya salad, coconut-based dessert drinks like lok chab
What's of note here is the fact that this is not the watered down Thai cuisine we're used to. You won't find Pad Thai here. This is Thai food made for Thai people, so it's truly authentic.
Beyond the food, the (pleasant) assault on your other senses will transport you to Bangkok instantly. There's Thai music blaring (interspersed with karaoke, which they love), people chit chatting in Thai, Thai products...and the smells! From fish to fresh noodles, to air currents thick with coconut. It's an experience.
But you don't have to be Thai to visit. We spoke to a monk who works at the temple, and he told us the point of the market is not only to provide a community space for Thais, but for non-Thais to learn about their culture through food.
And the best way to learn about another culture is through food!
Want to visit? The market is open every Saturday and Sunday from 9 am to 4 pm. Bring cash! And a huge, big appetite.
Check out these other stories, this time from the real Thailand. Here's some real Thai street food...grilled fertilized eggs (be warned). This Buddhist temple releases animals as part of a belief that it will bring you good karma. Thailands famous "long neck tribe" don't actually have long necks - it's an illusion.