Back in January I was pretty excited to read about a new Thai place Downtown called Esaan: A Taste of Thai. From the sounds of the Squid Ink article (which I now realize I might have only skimmed) it sounded like Essan would be perfect for Downtown lunchers who didn’t want to make the trek up the 101 to Thai Town. The name didn’t hurt either. I’m no expert on the regional cuisines of Thailand but “Esaan” sounds pretty authentic- right? Inclusion in Saveur’s 24 Hours of Thai Food in L.A. sealed the deal- I needed to check this place out.
Sadly, on my first visit I realized the truth. There is no mistaking Essan for a real taste of Thailand (or even Thai Town.) It’s a straight up fast casual sandwich and salad place that transforms Thai (and Vietnamese) dishes into yuppified lunches that would be deemed acceptable by the Downtown L.A. lunch crowd. Case in point? The “Pad Thai Salad”, a salad featuring “classic pad thai ingredients” tossed with spaghetti (yes, you read that right.) It could easily be considered an abomination, except for one thing. I kind of loved it.