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Luv2Eat Thai Bistro

When you hear that a restaurant is called Luv2Eat Thai Bistro, you might think it sounds like a takeout spot that aspires to nothing beyond styrofoam container mediocrity. Think that all you want, but you'll be missing out on one of the best Thai restaurants in Southern California. Newcomers to L.A. are often amazed to discover that some of the greatest food in town, both fancy and lowbrow, is served in nondescript strip malls. Luv2Eat, whose chefs come from the beloved Hoy Ka, is a perfect example of that exact situation.

Luv2Eat shares a dingy parking lot in Hollywood with a 7-Eleven, a Subway, and a Pizza Hut. And inside, the restaurant is pretty much a bare-bones cafe. But what it lacks in ambience it makes up for elsewhere: the service is first-rate and the food is outstanding. Our Thai friends have said this place is as good as some of their favorite spots back home in Thailand, so Luv2Eat is about as authentic as it gets, apparently.

The menu isn’t daunting in size like Jitlada’s but could still steer you towards ordering dishes you recognize (pad thai, egg rolls, tom yum soup) in which case what emerged from the kitchen wouldn’t disappoint you. In fact, as American Thai restaurant standards go, you can’t have a much better version of these touchstones anywhere. But if you look beyond the familiar standards, you’ll discover Issan and Phuket dishes that will blow your mind. We’d suggest you make it a point to try one or two things off the Chef’s Specials section of the menu. Nearly every special we’ve tried has wowed us. We should warn you, much of the food here is, by default, spicy as hell. There are curries here that are the culinary equivalent of ingesting a hand grenade. Tasty as hell, sure. But also intensely fiery. You may sweat from pores you didn’t even know you had.

A restaurant this terrific can’t remain off the radar for long. Selfishly, we wouldn’t mind if it did, as not having to wait too long for a table at Luv2Eat is a luxury we'd like to preserve. But then again, we want this restaurant to be around forever, which is why we’ve been happy to see the waits for a table getting longer at night. Luv2Eat Thai Bistro might not look like much. But it tastes like fireworks. Go pay a visit.

Food Rundown

Phuket Style Crab Curry Kanomjean (S1)

You know those YouTube clips of people at self-help seminars walking on coals and somehow not burning their feet off? Well, we’ve walked on coals...with our mouth. The small bowl of dark brown curry comes with chunks of blue crab, and is one of the spiciest things we’ve eaten this year, but also one of the most delicious.

Kua Gling with Spare Ribs (S3)

You could have this Southern Thai dry curry stir fried with fish, shrimp, or ground meat and leave a happy camper, but there’s something special about getting the curry-coated spare ribs. The moist meat falls right off the bone.

Pad Ka Prao (45)

Pad Ka Prao is ground pork stir fried with holy basil, sliced green beans, and peppers, and this is the best rendition of the dish we've had. Get this, or else you’re going home having missed out on something exceptional.

Hat Yai Fried Chicken (S11)

A few pieces of well-marinated chicken are twice fried, and topped with a mound of fried shallots. The incredibly thin crust is crunchy, with perfectly tender meat inside. The dish seems so simple, but is pretty spectacular.

Jade Noodle with 3 BBQ (35)

A bowl of green noodles, topped with chili flakes, ground peanuts, bean sprouts, herbs, scallions, Chinese broccoli, and three types of meat (roast pork, roast duck, and fried chunks of crispy pork). Order this dry with no broth.

Crying Tiger (9)

Broiled thin slices of beef served alongside a spicy lime and scallion dipping sauce. Not super spicy, but an enjoyable treat ‘o meat.

Tray Size Papaya Salad

The papaya salad sits in the center of a giant plate, surrounded by various ingredients (pork rinds, hard boiled eggs, slices of cold sausage, crispy pork, and a bunch of different vegetables) you can mix in with your slivers of papaya. We’d recommend you order one of the simpler papaya salads because this and the seafood heavy version both struck us as overkill.

Spicy Shrimp Paste Fried Rice (S6)

Underwhelming. The fried rice is off-puttingly damp and not particularly flavorful. Just doesn’t have the same oomph as everything else.

Pink Milk

Sure, you could order a Thai Iced Tea or drink out of a whole coconut to help kill the spicy fire raging in your mouth, but why not go for something you don’t see often around L.A., a mason jar of milk flavored with a sugary red syrup. It resembles Strawberry Quik but the flavor is more complex - a little flowery and a little sour. Get this to drink.

Thai Tea Pudding

Thai Iced Tea and Flan made a baby in our mouth. And then we ate said baby for dessert. A tasty antidote to calm your still spice-singed mouth.

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