WESTWOOD THAI CUISINE THAT SOARS
I’m a huge fan of Thai cuisine but I usually tend to stick to my tried and true favorites. But occasionally I will branch out so when I got the call to try Emporium Thai in Westwood, I was game.
Named one of the 100 best Thai restaurants in the U.S., Emporium Thai has been family-owned and operated since 2000. They like to say that cooking is in their genes. The family’s story is a true American dream come true.
Supis Sungkamee was the family matriarch. She passed away at age 88 and bore 12 children in Southern Thailand instilling in her offspring a passion for authentic Thai cooking. In 1990, she won a lottery for a U.S. green card, which allowed her family to become U.S. immigrants and eventually U.S. citizens.
At Emporium Thai, family’s recipes have made the restaurant a favorite destination for those who appreciate fine Thai cuisine. Executive Chef Gina Sungkamee is passionate about cooking. She studied for four years at Bangkok’s most prestigious culinary school and specializes in the cuisines of all regions of Thailand, particularly the cuisine of Southern Thailand.
During our recent visit for dinner, I was taken by the charm of the cozy restaurant. It’s intimate yet energetic. We started our family style dinner with Thai Buffalo Wings—a dish that’s not one of my usual orders. But boy do these hot wings offer Thai spices and flavors that just blend together perfectly.
Another fantastic starter item was the Crying Tiger Beef—Thai-style chargrilled beef marinated with Thai herbs, thinly sliced, served with homemade chili sauce. The beef itself is fantastic and the sauce just made it all the better.
The Coco Mango Salad with Shrimp came highly recommended so we just went with it. Shredded raw mango mixed with dried coconut, fresh chili, lime juice and shrimp may sound simple but the flavors are very bold and complex. If you want greens with your meal, get it; if you love shrimp, get it; and if you just love a good flavorful seafood dish, get it.
Fans of curry should get the Southern Curry with Jasmine Rice as it’s a house specialty. This family recipes goes back 30 years. A mix of jicama, Thai basil, and bell pepper, it really is a must try. I haven’t seen this dish before and the curry was so flavorful. Think spot on comfort food.
Offering Southern Thai street food, we went with the Pad Prix King Crispy Pork—a dry red curry stir fried with long string beans and crispy pork. This is a favorite among spicy food lovers.
Emporium Thai also offers a variety of gluten-free, peanut-free, vegetarian and vegan options. Wanting to try a veggie dish, we went with the Royal Pad See Ew Veggie with pan-fried flat rice noodles with broccoli and assorted vegetables.
Dessert was a no-brainer as the Mango Sticky Rice is a must. It comes with slices of mango that somehow make the rice sweet and sticky and just the perfect dessert.
At Emporium Thai, the Sungkamee family says their mission is simple, “to create a memorable and wonderful Thai dining experience that you’ll return to often and rave about to your friends.”
Emporium Thai also offers a late afternoon happy hour Monday through Saturday from 3pm to 6pm with deals on wine and Thai Tapas.
Emporium Thai is located at 1275 Westwood Blvd. Open for lunch and dinner Monday - Thursday 11am to 10:30pm; Friday 11am to 11pm; Saturday 11am to 11pm; Sunday 5pm to 10:30pm. Call 310-478-2838.
Photography Courtesy: Emporium Thai
Story By: Jose Martinez