Years ago, I told a coworker that The Astronomer and I had made reservations a solid month in advance to dine at Osteria Mozza. “What if you’re not in the mood for Italian on that day?” she responded. Her question was logical enough, but it caught me by surprise nevertheless. In all my years of calling for reservations and eating when the date arrived, I’d never once considered the possibility that I wouldn’t be in the mood to enjoy whatever fare I had planned on.
In fact, I’ve always been hungry and ready for just about everything until a recent sushi date with my girl Lien. We had made plans to dine at her favorite spot Kiriko weeks in advance. However, when the day rolled around, I found myself not the least bit in the omakase mood. On this particular evening, I craved something filling, unfussy, cheap, and very spicy.
So, rather than meet for fresh and delicate fishes on the Westside, we jammed it to Thaitown instead. After all, it is the epicenter of all that is filling, unfussy, cheap, and very spicy.
Lien arrived at Ruen Pair first and snagged a comfy booth fit for four toward the back of the restaurant. The extra-large table proved to be quite useful as the evening progressed because we ordered a whole lot of food.
The first dish to arrive was the green papaya salad ($6.95). The heap of shredded papaya was pleasantly snappy and dressed in a well-balanced lime juice and fish sauce vinaigrette. Tomatoes, peanuts, and dried shrimps mingled harmoniously amongst the greenery.
Our second starter was a tremendous platter of fried green mussels ($7.95) served on a bed of sauteed bean sprouts. Lien ordered this dish on a whim because she hearts mussels so. Unfortunately, the ratio of batter to mussels turned out to be 9:1, leaving us mostly with mouthfuls of breading. Although the mussels were missing in action, the batter and accompanying chili sauce were both solid.
The first of three mains to arrive was the “stew duck noodles” ($6.25). We ordered this dish dry at the suggestion of Delicious Coma via Starchy Marie. The wide, pappardelle-esque strands were coated in a savory and garlicky broth with scallion and cilantro garnishes. The duck was neither here nor there, but we didn’t mind because we were too busy slurping the glorious noodles.
A Thai meal wouldn’t be complete without a helping of curry. I picked out the roasted duck curry with pineapples, tomatoes, and lots of fresh Thai basil ($7.95). The red curry teetered deliciously between spicy and creamy, with pockets of tanginess courtesy of the pineapples and tomatoes. The duck was fatty, rich, and plentiful—just the way we like it.
Our final course of the night was an order of pad Thai with tofu ($6.95). As expected, it was a solid rendering of the most famous Thai dish ever, al dente noodles and all.
Ruen Pair satisfied my every craving this evening. It was without a doubt filling, unfussy, cheap, and very spicy. Not to mention, really quite tasty.
5257 Hollywood Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027