The Super-Chill Hotspots Shaking Up L.A.’s Thai Food Scene

So Long, Hi

foodandwine.com

“It’s this particular meal that you really can’t find in L.A.,” David Tewasart says of what he wants to serve at So Long, Hi. “There’s a grilled meat, there’s a salad, there’s a soup, there’s a fried dish, and it’s all served with sticky rice. That combination is very difficult to find in L.A., and it’s something I’ve always enjoyed eating and have always wanted to serve. This is the perfect venue for that.”

Tewasart (Sticky Rice, Side Chick, Matcha Matcha, Monkey Bar and the forthcoming RBTA) and Bryan Sharafkhah-Sharp (White Guy Pad Thai) know a few things about bringing Thai street food to the masses in L.A. In addition to his popular Grand Central Market stand and his growing restaurant collection, Tewasart has a mobile-food operation that has regularly shown up at major culinary events like Smorgasburg. Sharafkhah-Sharp’s buzzworthy food trailer has also made frequent appearances at Smorgasburg.

Now at So Long, Hi, Sharafkhah-Sharp’s brick-and-mortar debut, dishes include iced vegetables with a green chili dip that’s pure fire. The tom saap gadook mu is a clear broth that’s intensely sour, pleasantly spicy and delightfully hearty with spare ribs. The restaurant doesn’t offer spice levels or substitutions, and it’s already mischievously printed and posted a negative Yelp review from somebody who preferred the more typical Thai restaurant (Soi7) that previously occupied this address.

“We’re both passionate about making, like, the anti-Thai restaurant menu,” says Sharafkhah-Sharp, who joked that his food might not be spicy enough when he noticed a guest nursing a beer on the night we visited. “Instead of 100 items, we wanted to curate it. We’re both into curating the experience rather than making every dollar you can by selling people whatever they want.”

The goal of So Long, Hi is to transport diners.

“You totally forget where you are,” Tewasart says of what’s it like to hang out on the patio.

At least temporarily, the din of downtown L.A. is nonexistent, and the experience resembles what it’s like when you’re eating noodles on the streets of Thailand and don’t even notice the cars zipping by or the elephant behind you that’s about to brush against your back. (That thing with the elephant actually happened to Tewasart.)

“You’re in another world; you forget about this life,” Sharafkhah-Sharp says.

Adding to the mellowing experience is that fact that some of Sharafkhah-Sharp’s favorite dishes, like Thai jerky, sweet-and-sour wings and salted fried ribs, are on the happy-hour menu. And soon, Chimney Coffee, a Thai coffee brand with an outpost in Bangkok along with its existing L.A. location in Chinatown, will open within the same address and offer treats like Thai iced tea soft-serve.

“We really like our happy-hour options: the $5 pad Thai, the no-nonsense beer we’re serving,” says Tewasart, who’s proudly offering Sapporo, Singha, Chang, Leo and PBR (along with soju cocktails) instead of focusing on craft beer. “We want it to be buzzing all day long.”

And they want their customers to try new things, so they’ve sent out extra items to guests who came in and just ordered pad Thai. They have plans to add dishes like khao soi to the menu. Expect it to be spicy.