For spice-lovers looking for something exotic, Thai cuisine is near the top of the list. Angelinos looking for the ultimate in “extra bite” can end their search here. Palms Thai Restaurant brings authentic, Thai cuisine to Hollywood Blvd, blending great tasting food with an upbeat, bustling and energetic atmosphere. Provided you can handle the heat, Palms just might be the only restaurant the spice-lover inside you needs.
Walking into the restaurant is an assault on the senses. It’s really just one giant dining room. While accoutrements of Thai culture decorate the walls, they only give the bare minimum of Thai ambience. On one end is the kitchen, where myriad wait-staff march incessantly through swinging doors. Lining another wall is the bar, which only serves beer and wine. Opposite the kitchen, next to the waiting area is a small performing stage set up with a sound system ready to back up any one of the restaurant’s nightly performers—one of them is a Thai Elvis impersonator named Kenny who is always a crowd pleaser. He sings next to a giant metallic Elvis sculpture which looks like a cross between a Rodin and the Terminator. Wild? Sure, but wait until you taste the food.
And there will be plenty of it. With over 100 food items to choose from, the hefty menu is of biblical proportions. The offerings cover the major categories: beef, pork, fowl, seafood and vegetarian dishes, so no member in your dining party has room to complain. On a side note, your server will probably offer a “mild” alternative for the spiciness of your food. If you’ve never tasted Thai pepper before, you may want to take that suggestion. I chomped down on an entire Thai pepper, thinking it was some kind of bean and I had to hold ice cold water in my mouth for five minutes before the burning dulled enough for me to speak.
Sipping down Thai iced teas ($2), which taste like iced green tea except sweeter, we ordered a bevy of dishes, including appetizers, soup, salad and main courses. Realistically, those categories are just courtesies and food coursing isn’t practiced here. You get whatever comes out first. In my case, the appetizers came out last.
To start we were served Spicy Seafood Soup ($11), which consists of assorted seafood in spicy lemon grass soup, which was absolutely delicious. Ironically, exotic foods like wild boar and quail are available on the menu, yet Palms still uses imitation crab in the soup. On the upside, the enormous pot was more than enough for my party of four with plenty left over.
The Wild Boar with Curry Sauce ($13) and the Roasted Duck Salad ($8) arrived simultaneously. My server warned me that the boar would be chewy and fatty. That it was, but it missed its mark on taste. Rather than complementing the flavor with spice, the pepper overpowered the entire dish so much so that we couldn’t tell what we were eating until all the other entrées were on the table looking nothing like pork. The salad, on the other hand, was heavenly with the duck cooked to tender perfection and mixed well with the vegetables.
The Deep Fried Trout with Mango Sauce ($11) and the Red Curry with Beef ($6.50) came next. The fish was coated in a tempura batter and was standard fare for deep fried fish, albeit tougher than I would have liked. The curry was the mildest of all the spicy dishes and was just a little boring, but tasty in its own right.
Bringing up the rear were the appetizers, Fried Squid ($9) and Thai Sausage ($7). The squid was simple deep fried squid rolled in tempura batter, accompanied by a sweet dipping sauce. The spicy sausage was sectioned and presented nicely with lettuce wedges and peanuts. Both would have been wonderful appetizers had they actually been served as appetizers.
Service is not Palms’ forte, so don’t come looking for it. You may have as many as ten different servers dropping off food at your table over the course of your meal and flagging one of them down can be a chore. Come to Palms for manageable prices, the excellent food, and vivacious company. Since most of the tables are connected, you may be elbow to elbow with strangers, but that’s all part of the charm.
Palms Thai Restaurant serves lunch from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and dinner from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Highly recommended for post-drinking/sobering-up dining. Valet is available.
Palms Thai Restaurant
5900 Hollywood Blvd., Suite B
Los Angeles, CA 90028
Tel: (323) 462-5073