In a former Taco Bell (still has the classic architecture intact) in western Culver City sits Ekkamai Thai, an ultra tiny space (8 tables crowded inside, a few outside that are as popular as Syphillis today given the rain). It’s packed for lunch though the diners don’t seem terribly discerning. A few believe they are still in Taco Bell with their glazed looks and almost hipster meets flat damn broke attire.
It’s a comprehensive menu of Thai dishes found LA round with a few unusual twists. TV’s in either corner play sports and King of the Hill. Stabs at decor on the red walls are photographs presumably of the food you will eat. A sprig of basil artfully drapped across salmon or strips of beef or shrimp with peppers that look absolutely nothing like what you will eventually be served. Interestingly enough they employ the “push button for service” feature in spite of the fact the servers behind the counter can never be more than five feet away.
The Monster orders the tom yum with chicken (hot and sour soup with lemongrass, mushrooms, kaffir lime leaves, fresh lime juice and spices) and the ginger onion chicken (fresh ginger, mushrooms, carrots and onions sauteed in a savory sauce). The lunch special includes rice, salad and a curry puff.
Brought food, no silverware. Asked for brown rice, got white. The salad is lettuce with a miserly dribble of not terribly good dressing. The curry puff is cold, the accompanying sauce thin and vaguely tasteless. The soup trades heat for nuance, so it’s hot and not sour. The main dish tastes like a $6.99 lunch special.
And none of this is meant as a jab at Ekkamai. You come here because it’s raining. You come here because it’s quick. You come here because they have plenty of parking. You order delivery from here because you find a menu dropped in your mailbox or rubberbanded to your door knob. And on those conditions it delivers. Cheap enough, hearty enough, hot enough, tasty enough with friendly people working here who make it a notch better still.
For dessert, an Andes Mint brought with the bill. It is delicious and makes The Monster wonder whatever happened to these little treats of chocolate with enough mint to brighten breath after a meal.
Why go? Taco Bell is the best Mexican food you have ever had.
Monster rating: 2 ½/5 Monsters
13223 West Washington Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90066