November 01, 2014

Emporium Thai

For the first time in the history of Doah's Hungry (i.e., a ripe four years), this review is co-written with the help of a fellow food enthusiast.  Meet Alexander, a British bloke who despite his "functional eating" habits, loves eating food almost as much as me.  He also has a pretty high tolerance for spicy foods for... well, a white guy. ;)  And with that intro, we present to you, a Thai restaurant in Westwood that is worth your time, money, and attention.


Emporium Thai is owned by John Sungkamee.  If that name doesn't ring a bell, maybe its sister restaurant called named Jitlada will.  Yes, the Sungkamee family is behind serving traditional and authentic food from Southern Thailand in LA for years, and in so doing, have collected quite a few accolades along the way.  

Located just south of Wilshire on Westwood Blvd, EmporiumThai is unassuming and quiet despite being located on a busy street.  The atmosphere inside is inviting and the gentle music playing in the background serves to mask conversation creating an intimate ambience.  One feature that sets Emporium Thai apart from other restaurants is a brand new spiciness scale that has just been perfected by John and Executive Chef and sister, Gina Sungkamee.  Most dishes can be ordered with a specified amount of spice (on a scale of 1-10).  Our server recommended a 3 as a good place to start and described this as a medium amount of spice.  Even a 3 had us frequently grabbing for our waters and Thai iced teas, so we can't even imagine the spiciness of a 7+ rating.

Simple and inviting interior decor.

Hor Mok -- fish mousse flavoured with curry paste and coconut cream.

Delicious appetizer, mild in spice, but full of flavour and served in small bites.

The presentation is unique and fun.

CoCo Mango Salad -- sweet mango, red chili spice, and peanuts meet for a sweet dish with a spicy kick -- $12.95
Pairs nicely with Crying Tiger Beef (see below).  

Crying Tiger Beef -- Thai-style chargrilled beef, served with homemade green and red sauces -- $12.95
One of Emporium Thai's and Jitlada's most popular dishes and a Chef specialty.  Not overly spicy on its own, but can be enhanced with a red or green sauce.  The spiciness of this dish pairs beautifully with the sweet/ spicy mango salad.

Southern Curry -- chicken, jicama, basil, bell pepper, with various South Thai spices, with jasmine rice -- $11.95
This is originally from a recipe that has been in the family for 30 years!

Our personal favourite from the evening.  Seasoned with traditional South Thai flavours, this curry is complex and more than an average yellow curry.  We tried a level 3 on spiciness. 

Thai doughnuts with coconut ice cream -- $6.00
Save room for these warm little doughnuts (like a cronut, but lighter) and coconut ice cream.

Thai iced tea (not pictured) is definitely worth ordering, just be careful not to drink it all during dinner or else you might feel overly full.

One last note about portions… we ate all of this and were very full.  However, portions are on the small side, so I would recommend ordering a three course meal (ex. appetizer or salad, entrée, and dessert).

If you haven't checked this place out, it's about time that you do.  Like Jitlada, there are over two hundred items on the menu (?!), but do not worry.  The menu points you to crowd-favorites and the servers will talk with you to help you determine the appropriate spicyness level.  Whether you love Thai food or not, a visit to Emporium Thai would be an interesting and delightful food adventure.

Emporium Thai Cuisine on Urbanspoon

cuisine: Thai
location: Westwood, Los Angeles
hours: Mon-Thurs, Sun: 11:00am-10:30pm; Fri-Sat: 11:00am-11:00pm
websites: { ET | yelp | facebook | twitter }
attire: Casual
parking: Street meters
price: Expect to pay about $40 for for two dinner.
notes: This was a hosted meal.  Free delivery within a 3-mile radius from the restaurant.

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