Quietly peeking through the hustle and bustle of Laurel Canyon and Ventura Boulevard, sits a little gem of an eatery, called Sompun, named after the tiny, 84-year-old woman who is at the throne of this truly authentic Thai restaurant that has embraced Studio City for more than thirty years.
This is not your typical Americanized “lunch special” kind of place. It is rooted in origin from generations of passed down recipes, the significance of freshness and quality make the distinction very clear.
While Sompun, also known as “Mom,” now sits on the sidelines overseeing the quality of her product, her daughter, Tael, has taken the reigns, making a seamless transition in the kitchen that any mother would be proud of. Every dish possesses the ability to leave your mouth decorated in the essence of fresh herbs and spices, including:
Ka-Nom-Being-Yaun – A thin crispy shell filled with shredded coconut meat, cooked bean sprouts and crushed peanuts. The interior of harmonious ingredients and the masterful art of creating the crunchy housing will bring joy to vegetarians and meat eaters alike.
O-Lua is a soft pancake made of egg and shrimp takes that takes on a fluffy but crispy role, reminiscent of breakfast. When perched on a bed of cool bean sprouts and drizzled with spicy sweet and sour sauce it is unlike anything you have had before.
Roti is a curry dish made from a homemade red curry paste that is ground in-house with only the freshest of herbs and chilies. It stands apart from any previous curry encounters. The tender meat has a wonderful existence as it absorbs the flavors from the paste and the elusive Kaffir lime leaves that grace its presence, but are never seen. Roti is served alongside dense Thai bread similar to Indian naan and is the perfect accompaniment to suck up the spicy goodness.
Prik-King, made with pork and green beans is the most sinful of the group. The melt-in-your-mouth crunch of freshly fried pork is edible poetry on a plate, which after the first bite becomes an addiction that is very difficult to kick. The unity of the meat, tender green beans, chili and peanuts will make any pork loving person feel like a pig in mud.
Kao Soi has been Mom’s signature dish since she was 12 years old. Kao Soi is a Northern Thai soup-like dish that encompasses Indian style curry with special egg noodles, cooked with your choice of meat, in coconut milk. The dish is garnished with pickled cabbage, shallots, crispy noodles and a wedge of lime, making it pop with flavor. The combo of ingredients magically create a delicate balance that will lead any current conversation to “mmm” until the only other sound is a spoon scraping against the empty porcelain bowl. At this point you are wishing you had one more bite to prolong the complete and utter satisfaction.
To finish things off and cool you down, try the fried bananas with a side of coconut ice cream. The mild coconut matched with the creaminess and crunch of the fried banana, will leave you with the sweetest dreams.
The bottom line is the food is made with love, the service is attentive and polite, prices range from $7.95 to $13.95 per dish and yes, it’s homemade Thai food without the jet lag. (Bring this column to the restaurant and receive a special edible surprise!)
Sompun is located at 12051 Ventura Place in Studio City. For more information, call (818)762-7861.
Los Angeles born and raised, Scott Putman is the principal of PROFITdine, a restaurant financial advisory firm specializing in assisting independent operator’s success. www.profitdine.com