10 Great Thai Restaurants in Orange County (and Long Beach)

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Edwin Goei
For this list of ten great Thai restaurants, not only have I included those from Long Beach (a non-OC city that's always been under this paper's jurisdiction), but also some Thai-Cambodian, some Thai-Laotian, and even a Thai-sushi hybrid, because if variety is the spice of life, then why not even more spice from even more cultures known for their fiery foods. 

As always, share your picks in the comments.

10. Thai Swan
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Jonathan Ho
Thai Swan's food tastes like a meal cooked by Mom. This owner/mother is Aree Shepard, an eternally cheery Thai lady who dotes on all her customers and calls them "honey." Just like her sparsely decorated restaurant, her meals are simple and comfortable--the kind of meal that a Thai kid would crave the minute he leaves the nest. Aree's Signature Stew is one of those dishes--a deep bowl filled with braised hunks of beef, spinach and bean sprouts swimming in broth. The soup is dark and murky and looks a bit like something a camp cook might ladle from a trough. But one sip of the thin brew reveals a smoky, spicy complexity so addictive you'll want to sop up every drop, soak a plateful of rice with and ask for it again when you're feeling homesick.

9. Bai Plu Thai & Sushi
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Jonathan Ho
If you've been to the East Coast, you'll know that this type of Thai and sushi double-team is a rampant phenomenon there. It's a downright epidemic in the South. But unlike those restaurants, not only does Bai Plu have the guts to tackle two disparate cuisines from countries thousands of miles apart, but also the chops to do it well. The Thai section alone reads like an epic tome. There are a dozen soups, oodles of noodles, nearly endless varieties of fried rice. Proteins are divvied up into four sections, and that's not including appetizers. Curry is offered in yellow, green, red, panang, massa mun, pineapple and kang pa. Of course, all are customizable with chicken, beef, pork or tofu. And to make it more dizzying, there are also duck and salmon curries. And if you're still not convinced this isn't some sanitized Thai, order the black eggs with chile, garlic and flash-fried Thai basil. In the dish, thousand-year-old egg is featured prominently, sliced in quarters and lording over pieces of stir-fried ground pork. The morsels are as black as tar, jelly-like in consistency and feature a bluish yolk that tastes of a musky, eggy concentrate. It's arresting, bold, as subtle as TNT.

8. Sophy's Fine Thai and Cambodian
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Kimberly Valenzuela
Thank goodness Sophy's Fine Thai & Cambodian Cuisine's previous landlord in Long Beach's Cambodia town refused to renew the lease; otherwise, Sophy Khut and her crew wouldn't have had the chance to expand. The new PCH digs is four times the space, and it has its own parking lot. Don't take this to mean that finding a spot is any easier. Word has gotten out on the migration. Regulars who followed Sophy's from Anaheim Street crowd alongside newcomers. You can tell the newbies easily: They'll be the ones ordering the pad Thai and it is good, but the Thai staple is just a gateway drug to the far zippier and electrically charged chan pu. Then venture into more of Sophy's deep and dangerous cuisine. Try Sophy's beef jerky next: gnarled and crispy deep-fried logs of meat, twisted and sooty black, as deeply flavored as they are addictive. Advanced players will ascend to the Cambodian food lover's litmus test: the sadao salads, featuring an innocent baby's-breath-like plant that packs a knee-buckling quinine astringency. Go ahead, try it: It's good for you!


Location Info

Thai Nakorn

12532 Garden Grove Blvd., Garden Grove, CA

Category: Restaurant

Sutha Thai Kitchen

1161 Irvine Blvd., Tustin, CA

Category: Restaurant

Bangkok Taste

2737 N. Grand Ave., Santa Ana, CA

Category: Restaurant

Siam Taste of Asia

3520 W. First St., Santa Ana, CA

Category: Restaurant

Thai & Chinese Express

2540 Main St., Irvine, CA

Category: Restaurant

Rice and Spice Thai Cuisine

22431 Antonio Parkway, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

Category: Restaurant

Vientiane Thai Laos

10262 Westminster Ave., Garden Grove, CA

Category: Restaurant

Sophy's Fine Thai and Cambodian Cuisine

3240 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Long Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant

Thai Swan - CLOSED

724 E. Katella Ave., Orange, CA

Category: Restaurant

Bai Plu Thai Cuisine & Sushi Bar

2119 Bellflower Blvd., Long Beach, CA

Category: Restaurant

My Voice Nation Help
18 comments
sandraloughlin67
sandraloughlin67

Hello? Everybody knows Thai Swan is no longer there...It's now Thai Lanta, very good but more expensive than Thai Swan was.

Thomas Obungen
Thomas Obungen

What about Minerva Thai restaurants?? I love that kind of Thai food.

Minerva Thai
Minerva Thai

Always looking for good Thai restaurants...will have to check these out o.o

Marcie Angel
Marcie Angel

D: droooool. Ive been craving som tam for sooo long!

Stephanie Jones
Stephanie Jones

Diho Siam (Costa Mesa) is my favorite Thai place. The Tom Kha soup and Panang curry are up  there in my favorite things to eat in the entire world list. Yum.

Dweezle.Di
Dweezle.Di

Many of my friends tell me Thai Nakorn has gone way downhill, It is just not worth the wait for the packed shoulder to shoulder dining experience.

Personally I like a more private dining experience such as at Silk Thai. Located in the Albertsons Shopping Center on Beach Blvd & Utica in Huntington Beach.  Good food cooked to order, Good service, never had to wait in a parking lot to get a table.

Mo_abdullajd
Mo_abdullajd

Sutha Thai stopped serving the Salmon Salad.  At least that's what they told me a few weeks ago when I went.  The Roasted Duck Salad is a good substitute!

 

cBc
cBc

Your #1 is my #1. Thai Nakorn ftw.

JB
JB

I can't tell you how you made my day by ranking Sutha Thai in the number 2 spot.  If there's a better example of Thai home cooking in OC, I'd like to know. 

You are right, the yellow curry is heavenly...but I'd like to suggest that everyone order a round of Shrimp Sarong as the best way to instantly get acclimated to the many excellent dishes at Sutha. 

Tip: make sure to visit the restroom...so you can get a peek inside the kitchen

Dave Lieberman
Dave Lieberman

Shoulder to shoulder? Maybe in Stanton. In Garden Grove you could throw a football and not hit anyone else.

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