photo credit: Jessie Clapp
Fame is a tricky beast. Just ask the person who invented Beanie Babies or anyone who's tried aging in Hollywood. The spotlight is an enviable place to be, but the brighter it gets, the harder it becomes to sustain. And the spotlight is very much on Anajak. The family-run Thai restaurant has been the subject of national awards, heady think pieces, and reservation waitlists that stretch on for months. Hell, it’s been our highest-rated restaurant on the site since 2021. And yet, with so much effort required to get a table, what most people really want to know is if eating there is worth the hassle. Our answer remains an unequivocal yes.
Because at this boundary-decimating restaurant in Sherman Oaks, dinner is not just a meal. It’s an all-sensory experience, highlighted by deep family heritage, a devout adherence to sourcing and sustainability, and some of the best damn food you’ll eat in Los Angeles.
The lore of Anajak stems from its own history—this is not a new restaurant. In fact, the same family has been operating it in the same location since the early '80s. But in 2019, Justin Pichetrungsi, the original owners’ son, started tinkering with the menu, and as the pandemic unfolded, this dependable neighborhood Thai spot transformed into what it is today: A genre-bending destination featuring weekly chef collaborations, curated wine lists, a fancy outdoor omakase, and the only alleyway in LA you want to be seen in after 10pm.
Anajak’s current iteration is broken up into three distinct experiences: Regular dinner service, Taco Tuesday, and the aforementioned outdoor omakase. Each one is equally unique and excellent, but if it’s your first time, go for regular dinner service. This is when you get access to most of the restaurant’s staple dishes, plus get a front-row view into how this place operates. Anajak’s recent ascension might be thanks to the younger generation, but its sustained success is due to the whole family’s continued involvement. The Pichetrungsi matriarch runs front-of-house and various aunts can be seen dashing in and out of the kitchen throughout the night. You’ll eat specials like fried soft shell shrimp sourced from a sustainable farm in Downey and possibly the best-grilled fish in the history of the world—plus bold curries, savory pad siew, and other passed-down family recipes.
If you’ve come looking for a party, Taco Tuesday is your night. Starting each week at 6:15pm (line up no later than 6pm to beat the rush), this is Anajak in its loosest form. There are no reservations, ordering is done at the front counter, and the only place to sit is the side alley—turning a narrow stretch of asphalt usually reserved for dumpsters into a weekly block party. White tablecloths cast dramatic shadows on a massive brick wall. R&B blasts over the speakers. In the back, grills shoot twirling embers into the air like a Fantasia Live! performance. The menu consists of regular favorites like fragrant laab tot—crunchy spiced pork meatballs—and once-a-week dishes like dry-aged fish tacos and an incredible bluefin tuna tostada topped with thick ribbons of Santa Barbara uni. Whatever time you thought you were getting home, add an extra 90 minutes—it’s always that kind of night.
And then there’s the omakase, a multi-course, $195 per-person experience that happens only on Friday and Saturday nights. Getting a reservation can be next to impossible (last we checked, it’s booked out three months in advance), but keep an eye on Anajak’s Instagram stories—last-minute seats open up more frequently than you’d think. Either way, it’s an experience we highly recommend. It’s more intimate and personal than other nights at Anajak, and includes a changing lineup of mostly Thai dishes with experimental and high-end twists, and plating fit for The Broad. That might mean chilled tom kha with scallop, papaya salad topped with locally-sourced amberjack and caviar, or bright orange ikura served on a bed of sake yeast. That it all happens in a back alley on a folding table only solidifies the fun, freewheeling ethos that permeates every inch of this place.
This is a restaurant in constant motion—dishes will be swapped out, table setups will change, their weekly schedule could flip in the blink of an eye. But it’s also why eating at Anajak is so consistently exciting—and why the spotlight isn’t dimming anytime soon.
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Dry-Aged Grilled Fish
Even if you have minimal knowledge of Anajak, you’ve probably seen this dish somewhere on social media. It’s a visual beauty that’s every bit as delicious as it looks and arguably the restaurant’s signature dish. The fish itself (usually a branzino, but that can change) is cooked perfectly: crisp, salty skin giving way to flaky white meat that peels off with one brush of the fork. But what ties the dish together is the bath of nam jim seafood at the bottom. It’s a brothy, pungent sauce made from chiles, garlic, lime, and fish sauce, giving every bite a spicy, citrusy punch of flavor. It’s available during regular dinner service and Taco Tuesdays.
TransparentSea Shrimp With Pong Gari Curry
Named for the sustainable indoor shrimp farm from where they’re sourced, this soft shell shrimp dish is one of the newer items on the a la carte menu and it’s already a major highlight. The shrimp have been lightly fried and give off a fresh, salty pop when you bite into them. Be sure to dunk them liberally in the savory, pungent pong gari curry thickened with shrimp roe.
Bluefin And Uni Tostada
If you’re at Taco Tuesday, you might feel inclined to order the fish tacos. And you should—they’re incredible. But the best thing on Tuesday’s menu is the bluefin tostada. Yes, it's $29, but once you bite into the thick slices of premium tuna (sourced from The Joint just down the street on Ventura Blvd.) and a very generous topping of Santa Barbara uni, the chunk it takes out of your bank account will (briefly) be an afterthought.
On a menu as dynamic and creative as Anajak’s, you certainly don’t need to order a $9 side of roti, right? Wrong. It’s warm, flaky, and the right amount of buttery—use it as a needed vehicle to wipe up every last speck of sauce and curry from other dishes.
These aren’t always on the dinner menu, but if you see them, get them. They’re thick and meaty, and once you taste the sweet pineapple glaze, it’ll be a mad dash to grab the remaining ones.
Spicy Drinken Noodles
Practically every Thai restaurant in LA serves drunken noodles, but Anajak’s version is better than just about all of them. The thick, flat noodles have been stir fried to a plump and spongy perfection, and the various vegetables mixed in provide a little fresh crunch to each bite.
Southern Thai Fried Chicken
This was one of the first dishes on Anajak’s revamped menu—and it remains as good as ever. The skin is thick and crunchy, and the meaty interior only gets more succulent the closer you get to the bone. Word to the wise: This is a massive portion, so unless you plan on sharing with the table, plan to order it as an entree.