Thailandia - Fullerton
A good rule-of-thumb on determining whether a Thai restaurant is owned and operated by Thais? Count the number of condiments on the table. The more you see, the more likely it is one.
Observe what I saw at Fullerton's Thailandia. We have sambal oelek (ground chile paste), naam plaa phrik (sliced Thai chiles in fish sauce), phrik dong (pickled chiles in vinegar), and phrik pon (dried chile flakes)--a quadruple power play of hot, hot, hot and hotter.
Why all the condiments? Thais like to customize their dishes to their individual tastes. And this isn't even the most I've seen. At other Thai restaurants, there has been granulated sugar, Maggi sauce, ground peanuts, and trusty bottles of Huy Fong Food's Sriracha (which is actually just a version of a Thai chile sauce of the same name) on the tables.
Now, I must warn you that the presence of these condiments does not guarantee greatness, nor authenticity; but man does it make everything better!
On the appetizer sampler we ordered--a platter of egg rolls, fried shrimp, shrimp rolls, and crab rangoons--I slathered, dribbled, sprinkled, and applied so much from the condiment array that my ears glowed red, my brow dripped with rivulets of sweat, and I was panting like a shaggy dog in August.
It may have even skewed my impressions on the pad Thai and pineapple fried rice we ordered, which my friends thought was simply okay. But I wasn't eating the same dish they were. Every spoonful of mine had at least three explosive rounds of Thai chile from the naam plaa phrik...which would be the way I'd eat everything if every restaurant I go to were owned by Thais.
2500 E Chapman Ave.
Fullerton, CA 92831
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