The LA Thai Restaurant With An Outdoor 14-Course Feast

In addition to Hollywood, great weather, and winning sports teams, Los Angeles has another claim to fame: it has the biggest Thai population in the United States. According to Pew Research, in 2015, its 27,000 Thai residents were more than double the city with the second-largest amount (New York City).

With such a large Thai population calling LA home — and the country's only Thai Town neighborhood — it's not surprising that some of the best Thai restaurants in the country are also in the City of Angels. Love2Eat Thai Bistro, for example, garnered a glowing review in Los Angeles Times. And Jitlada Restaurant was a favorite of beloved restaurant reviewer Jonathan Gold — who was impressed by the restaurant's reinvention in the early aughts to focus on Southern Thai flavors (per LA Weekly).

Another staple of the LA Thai restaurant scene, Anajak Thai, has a similar story of renaissance. It's been in operation in Sherman Oaks for 41 years, but recently gained attention on the New York Times' list of "50 places in America we're most excited about right now." It's all thanks to chef Justin Pichetrungsi, who is making waves with his experimental approach to Thai dining.

Anajak Thai isn't what it's supposed to be

A lot of Thai restaurants feature a group of familiar favorites like Pad Thai and Tom Yum soup. But according to Anajak Thai's website, the Los Angeles restaurant has "zero allegiance to how it's supposed to be." And the proof is in the pudding — or in this case, tacos. Every week, the Los Angeles Times says there's a line around the building eager to taste so-called #TTT, or Thai Taco Tuesday, and that's just one of the innovations chef Justin Pichetrungsi has introduced to Anajak.

Pichetrungsi took over the restaurant's operations from his parents in 2019 after his father — a Cantonese-Thai immigrant who was one of the first to open a Thai restaurant in the area — had a stroke (per the LA Times). A few months later, Pichetrungsi, a former Disney art director, was immediately thrown into another crisis. When the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered many restaurants, he started playing with taco recipes as part of making family meals for his Oaxacan line cook staff and preparing tasting menus for small groups in the restaurant's alley outside. These experiments turned into #TTT and the restaurant's infamous Omakase experience.

Getting a reservation for Anajak's Omakase is nearly impossible, The Infatuation notes, but there's a reason why Anajak won LA Times' Best Restaurant this year. If you snag a spot, expect "one big f**king party," The Infatuation says, complete with an ever-changing menu of 14 courses that span traditional and contemporary Thai dishes.