Ruen Pair: The Best Things to Order for Lunch
Back in April, Savuer put together a 24 hour guide to eating Thai food in Los Angeles with dishes and restaurants for every conceivable time and mood. For lunch they suggested a bowl of khao soi from Spicy BBQ (Noon), the steam table at LAX-C downtown (1pm) and the pad thai salad from Essan Thai (2pm). But there was plenty more on the list that could be eaten for lunch, including Ruen Pair’s chicken prik king- which totally caught my eye.
Ruen Pair is known primarily as a late night place (Saveur suggested 10pm as the ideal time to eat there), but they are open for lunch. And even though there is no lunch menu specifically, almost all of their dishes are under $10.
The chicken prik king ($6.95) didn’t disappoint. Prik king is one of those dishes you’ll find at almost all Americanized Thai food restaurants, but when it’s done well it can be as flavorful as the “authentic” dishes you’ll only find in Thai Town. Ruen Pair’s version is made with a very powerful red curry paste, and they don’t hold back on the shards of kaffir lime leaf- which is nice. Plus the crunchy Thai long beans are a huge improvement over the mushy string beans you get at too many bad Thai restaurants.
Even better is the spicy catfish (#91, $7.95), deep fried, and covered in curry paste, chili and mint leaves. Unlike the beloved version served next door at Ganda, this one doesn’t have that super thick coating of curry paste stuck to the outside of slices of fried catfish. But it’s made to order, so overall it’s much more tender and fresher tasting. And if you manage to get them to make it “spicy” (we had to practically beg) watch out! It packs a nasty punch.
Looking for something a bit more mild? The stewed pork leg over rice (#70, $7.95) is one of the best things on the menu and not spicy at all- unless you dip the fatty chunks of meat into the sweet citrusy chili sauce provided on the side (this is highly recommended, btw.) The Chinese pickles are not too strong, but add a nice hint of sourness on the backend. At lunchtime it might be a bit dry- I was assured by a friend that the dish is actually a little better at dinnertime- but it didn’t bother me one bit.
If you’re looking for a vegetable, the sauteed morning glory in soy bean sauce (when they have it) is the closest thing to a signature dish that Ruen Pair has. But wouldn’t it taste better with crispy pork belly…
Ruen Pair does a very good version of chinese broccoli with crispy pork belly (#110, $7.95) but we hear that if you ask they’ll make it with morning glory instead- even though it is not actually listed on the menu. If you are lunching at Ruen Pair alone, this might be the perfect order.
On the flip side, if you’re at Ruen Pair with a large group you’ll want to get at least one of their egg dishes. “The Guru” is a fan of their omelets, available with salty turnip (#105, $6.25) or ground pork or shrimp (#106, $6.25/$6.95), and they make a delicious side dish. While Katie Robbins from Saveur is a big fan of the fried egg salad (#47, $6.95).
In fact most of their salads are a safe bet, including the dried shrimp packed papaya salad (#41, $6.95) which they’ll add raw crab to for an extra $1.
It’s possible that not everything at Ruen Pair is great. We didn’t try their any of their noodle or rice dishes, and the one soup we had (#60 – Kouy-Jub) was awesomely offal-tastic (it comes with deep fried pork, fried tofu, pork blood, liver and more), but might be a little too sweet for some. One thing is for sure… order any of the dishes above for lunch and you couldn’t possibly leave disappointed. Whether or not they taste better at 1am? That’s for somebody else to decide.
Ruen Pair, 5257 Hollywood Blvd, 323-466-0153