R: Sometimes we encounter wonderful surprises when we least expect them. It was that eye-catching V-word on the My Thai Restaurant sign that flashed before our eyes one day while we drove west on Devonshire Street in Chatsworth.
Z: Since it was dinnertime, we decided to give it a try. What a divine oasis this sweet little Thai restaurant is! The owner has been serving traditional Thai foods at her restaurant for 16 years and decided she would give veganism a try 10 years ago. She's been vegan ever since and began offering vegan dishes at her restaurant for the last eight years.
R: This petite woman's caring nature reminded me of an attentive grandma encouraging her little ones to choose healthy foods. She now serves mostly vegan foods at the restaurant to a largely young customer base that comes from all regions of the San Fernando Valley.
Z: And it's no wonder--the vegan menu is gigantic and boasts high protein, no cholesterol, and no MSG. Diners won't find fish sauce, oyster sauce, or any kind of meat products in the veggie dishes. Also pleasing is the homey ambience that features photos of Thailand's king and queen on the wall, a rippling fountain, an aquarium, a Thai spirit altar, and bric-a-brac that appears wherever there is a flat surface in the colorful room.
R: On our first visit, we ordered the all-inclusive dinner special that provided us with a complete meal at an astoundingly low cost. Included were soup or salad, our choice of fried rice, steamed rice or brown rice, our choice of egg roll, fried dumpling, or fried wonton, choice of entrée dish with tofu or veggie meat or chicken, and dessert. That chilly night made the Tom Kha Kai Coconut Soup such a welcome delight with its flavorful, thick and creamy base heaping with mushrooms and veggies.
Z: Every course was tasty, portions were generous, and the veggies were fresh and plentiful. We soon concluded this would be our fave and cozy Thai go-to!
R: Returning with our friends Lionel, Diana, and Bruce we were able to order an impressive variety of dishes. Our buds were just as delighted with the vegan offerings as we were. First to grace our table were the Steamed Veggie Dumplings presented on a bed of red leaf lettuce accompanied with a tiny bowl of special house dipping sauce. Inside the dumplings was a tasty mélange of tofu and minced veggies that made a delicious starter.
R: The tangy dressing of lime and mint made Larb one of the highlights of the meal everyone thoroughly enjoyed. Soon to follow was the Cashew Nut Delight, a colorful sweet and savory dish with cubes of tofu, broccoli florets, long strips of red bell pepper, angle-cut and corrugated zucchini, onion strips, and gorgeous chunks of "meaty" king oyster mushrooms. And, yes, there were cashews, too, along with a gentle hint of spice! All agreed this dish was pretty darned tasty.
Z: Popeye's Chicken, vegan, of course, stood apart because nothing was cubed. This flavor-infused selection featured whole baby corn, broccoli florets, spinach, sliced carrots, and everyone's favorite shiitake mushrooms. There were bits of minced and seasoned veggies and tofu contributing texture to the traditional Thai spices that splashed this dish with flavors reminiscent of veggie fish sauce.
R: I liked that the spinach was cooked just enough to soften it, yet still retain its rich vibrant color and flavor. And, those delicious shiitakes, with their irresistible umami flavor brought me joy with every bite.
Z: Lionel chose Praram's Plate because the peanut sauce topping was so appealing. It turned out to be another winner featuring veggie chicken on a bed of fresh rather than cooked spinach. This dish falls somewhere between a salad and a cooked dish with attractively cut cucumbers, red onions, and cashews, along with steamed broccoli. The creamy, sweet and savory peanut sauce dressing is what made this a standout choice.
R: Our final selection before dessert was my choice of Pumpkin Curry and Brown Rice. Curry lovers will fall instantly in love with Phorn's coconut-based soups and sauces like this one simply because they're so masterfully seasoned, thick, and ultra-creamy. Tinted red with a generous infusion of red chili, this curry was also flavored with lemongrass so traditional in Thai dishes.
Z: While many curries contain little more than a chunk or two of potato and tofu, this bowl was amply blessed with many large chunks of firm tofu and bite-size chunks of kabocha squash with its elephantine-textured green skin. There were also carrot slices and several fresh basil leaves that added their pungent perk to the curry. From the first to the last spoonful, it was a taste of nirvana served over the seldom-encountered red rice.
R: Though we all felt we'd had a decadent meal, we were still eager for a sweet finish and chose the Black Sticky Rice with Mango for dessert. Artfully presented, the black rice was topped with a sweet coconut sauce and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. The three large mango halves were angle-sliced and arranged at appealing angles in a style typical in Asian cuisine.
Z: The mango was sweet and delicious and was a great choice to top off an excellent meal. The reasonable prices are a giant bonus for vegans, since meat dishes are more costly. Parking, too, is a convenience. There is plenty of parking on the street as well as in the convenient strip-mall parking lot.
R: Diners will find good value for their dollar at My Thai in Chatsworth. They can enjoy a delicious meal and still be able to afford gas for the trip home. Vegan Salads range from $8.99 to $11.99, Soups $8.99 to $12.99, Noodle Dishes $9.99 to $10.99, Entrees $10.99 to $11.99, Curries $11.99 to $13.99, House Specials $10.99 to $12.99, Dessert $3.99 to $8.99.
Z: Many of us vegans have non-vegan friends as well and always look for places we can happily dine together. My Thai fits into everyone's category of a cozy little place with terrific food. We'll certainly be back to enjoy more of Phorn's colossal vegan menu.
My Thai Restaurant
Reviewed September 2016