A FRIEND INDEED NEIGHBORHOOD THAI EATERY PLEASING LOCALS FOR 23 YEARS.Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic
UNDER ONE OWNER for its 23 years of existence, the narrow little storefront eating place in Van Nuys known as Friend Thai has been holding steadily to its loyal local clientele despite major job losses in its neighborhood.
Thousands of potential customers were lost some years ago when Friend's nearby Lytton and Marquardt facilities shut down. And though the once-long waiting lines at lunchtime have gradually dwindled, Friend still attracts sizable noon-hours crowds.
The lure of Friend is simple: tasty Thai-Chinese food at rock bottom prices.
Some 11 lunch specials at $4.95 and four at $5.95 (served between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m.) provide a main course with steamed or fried rice and an egg roll preceded by wonton soup or a small house salad.
A similar list of dinner specials with the same accompaniments runs $3 higher.
Generally speaking, you'd have to order at least four a la carte dishes to exceed a $10-per-person expenditure here.
Friend's kitchen may save a little of its food expense by using canned Asian mushrooms, but otherwise the quality here appears to be more than adequate.
No high-priced seafood can be had here. Instead, the kitchen relies on shrimp for its ``top dollar'' dishes.
This begins with a clear-the-sinuses-type spicy sour shrimp soup ($5.95) containing those slippery mushroom slices, plenty enough for two, a steamy reddish broth broth
liquid media for culturing microorganisms.
cooked meat broth
a medium useful for culturing anaerobic bacteria.
one modified to permit growth by selected bacteria. dotted with chile fragments and holding a scattering of crunchy crunchy - floppy disk little shrimp.
Most of the shrimp here are pan-fried. In one of the better offerings, the shrimp arrive joined by squid with onions and mushrooms in a spicy rendition ren·di·tion
1. The act of rendering.
2. An interpretation of a musical score or a dramatic piece.
3. A performance of a musical or dramatic work.
4. A translation, often interpretive. simply titled ``special seafood'' ($6.95).
This is the most you'll pay for an a la carte item at Friend, other than the whole barbecued chicken ($9.95), one more significant bargain.
Brushed with assertive Thai seasonings, the barbecued chicken (half for $5.95) is an absolute must. It possesses the right exterior crunchiness Crunchiness is the gustatory sensation of muffled grinding of a foodstuff. Crunchiness differs from crispiness in that a crispy item is quickly atomized, while a crunchy one offers sustained, granular resistance to jaw action. and interior juiciness to make it an extra-special treat.
Put this together with a yum yai salad ($5.45) and you've got a nifty meal.
The yum yai, as do all the Friend salads, utilizes fresh, crisp romaine as its solo lettuce. There are a few shrimp along with some sliced onion and perhaps a slice or two of tomato and cucumber cucumber, fruit of Cucumis sativus, a species of gourd whose many varieties are descended from a plant native to Asia and Africa. Cucumber is classified in the division Magnoliophyta, class Magnoliopsida, order Violales, family Curcurbitaceae. . Layered on top are thin cuttings of white chicken meat, chilled, and the entire assemblage gets a restrained drizzling driz·zle
v. driz·zled, driz·zling, driz·zles
To rain gently in fine, mistlike drops.
1. of a tart lemon-mild chile dressing.
On the noodle side, the kitchen makes a respectable pad thai pad thai
A Thai dish of stir-fried rice noodles, egg, bean sprouts, shrimp, peanuts, and seasonings.
[Thai phàd thaj : phàd, fried, fried dish + thaj, Thai.] ($5.95) and a similar pad woon sen ($5.45), the latter with silver (also called cellophane cellophane, thin, transparent sheet or tube of regenerated cellulose. Cellophane is used in packaging and as a membrane for dialysis. It is sometimes dyed and can be moisture-proofed by a thin coating of pyroxylin. or glass) soy noodles noo·dle 1
A narrow, ribbonlike strip of dried dough, usually made of flour, eggs, and water.
[German Nudel. instead of the thin rice ones and no ground peanuts.
But, if you want ground peanuts, they're there for the taking, as part of a four-item condiment set-up on every table. The remaining three consist of dry, ground chile peppers; a hot and spicy red chile sauce; and thin-sliced jalapenos in a clear vinegary liquid.
Meat fanciers will probably enjoy chewable, thin-sliced beef panang ($5.95) here or the pan-fried pork prik king ($5.95) in a red curry Red curry (Thai แกงเผ็ด; IPA: [kɛːŋ pʰet]) (lit: spicy curry) is a popular Thai dish based on coconut milk heated with red curry paste and fish sauce. paste, served with green beans green beans
long narrow green beans that are cooked and eaten as a vegetable .
For omelet lovers, the kitchen whips up a good one stuffed with ground pork, onions and tomato ($5.95).
Remember, if you're in the mood for Thai food and you're in the West Van Nuys area near the Van Nuys Airport Van Nuys Airport (IATA: VNY, ICAO: KVNY, FAA LID: VNY) is a public airport located in Van Nuys, California in the San Fernando Valley, within the Los Angeles city limits. , you always have a Friend nearby.
Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668
Food: Three stars - Service: Three stars - Value: Three and one half stars
Where: 7139 Balboa Blvd., Van Nuys.
Hours: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 11.a.m. to 9 p.m. daily except Sunday.
Recommended items: Sour shrimp soup, yum yai salad, pad thai, pad woon sen, barbecued chicken, Siamese omelet, special seafood.
How much: Everything under $10. Beer and wine. MC, V.
Wine list: Limited to house white (chablis) and pink (rose) by the liter ($7), half-liter ($4) or glass ($1.90). Beverage of choice here is beer, with Thai Singha ($2.25 a bottle) the top pick.
Reservations: Taken. Call (818) 787-5440.
Owner Tim Tawinganone displays a yum yai salad, left, and pad thai noodles at his Friend Thai in Van Nuys, where everything on the menu is under $10.
John Lazar/Staff Photographer