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The Beach Gourmet: Toi on Wilshire: Rockin’ Thai Food:

Toi on Wilshire is a very cool rock and roll and pop culture themed restaurant specializing in Bangkok home-style cuisine, and this weekend a friend and I visited in order to add a little spice to our lives and satiate our considerable hungers.

With a high-beamed ceiling, a rustic palette adorned with some really authentic visual embellishments, including a dominant centerpiece pop art rendition of good ole John Lennon gazing over the Thai egg rolls and lemon chicken, this room is definitely rock and roll.

Established in 1994, Toi offers a substantial menu, with virtually every dish available as a vegetarian option. All the classics are here, from Pad Poh Tack (a combo of squid, fish, crab, shrimp and scallops in chili and garlic, $13.95) to Mas-Sa-Man (peanut curry sauce with potato and cashews, $8.95) and a complete battalion of appetizers, salads, soups, seafood and curries.

Personally, I have a definite penchant for spice when it comes to Thai food, but that certainly does not mean hot for hot’s sake. There is a defined quality to a well-balanced spice experience that allows flavor to bloom while still warming the soul. To put this to the test, the choices were Panang dry red curry with tofu and vegetables ($8.95), Yum Thai noodles (shrimp, chicken, onion and silver noodles with chili/lime sauce, $8.95) and the spicy fried rice, again with browned slithers of tofu ($8.95)

According to the menu, “All dishes are made fresh,” so in the interim we enjoyed a delicious Thai iced tea. (I really like this beverage, even though it sabotages my “on again, off again” diet!)

After fifteen minutes or so, our orders arrived courtesy of the pleasant “Goth” server who completed the rock theme perfectly.

The portions at Toi could very easily feed an army, so I immediately knew that we would be leaving with doggy bags (either that or on a stretcher; yes, they are HUGE!), and lunch the next day would be a nostalgic affair.

The Yum Thai noodles were dry and flavorful, with the ingredients swimming in a dry coconut, chili and lime sauce that hinted at an open fire without burning the tongue. It was very tasty, authentic and fresh tasting; no disappointments here.

The Panang experience was altogether superb, a kaleidoscope of veggies, including red pepper, cabbage and carrots, some healthy firm cubes of tofu and a tempting dry curry sauce that was aromatic, dry and spicy.

The accompanying spicy fried rice was a meal unto itself, with generous quantities of veggies, perfectly cooked and slightly sticky rice, slithers of tofu and a robust flavor that really “hit the spot.”

Toi on Wilshire is a fun establishment, with excellent Bangkok home-style dishes, a hip and contemporary ambience, and one of the few places where one can satisfy nocturnal gastronomic urges, given that they serve any menu item for dining in right up until their 3 a.m. closing time everyday!

Next time I really must wear my Thai-dye T-shirt…Rock on!

Toi, 1120 Wilshire Blvd., 310.394.7804

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