Rodded is one of L.A.'s oldest Thai restaurants and still feels vital.
With a name that means “delicious food” in Thai, we should have noticed earlier that Rodded‘s impact runs far deeper than duck. The restaurant in Thai Town from the Komenkul family draws on Chinese influences to produce one of the neighborhood’s better dining experiences. Prontip hails from Sena in Thailand’s Ayutthaya province, her husband Loesjai is from China and their son Danny is leading the family’s next generation.
The space has been in the family for almost 40 years. In the ’80s, Danny Komenkul’s grandpa ran a restaurant there, and before that, Grandpa’s cousin held court. Rodded currently features pastel green walls, lacquered wood tables, and a decorative blackboard.
Ham Hock with Mint Leaves ($7.75) rekindled my interest in Rodded, featuring pork chunks infused with soy sauce and chiles, and caramelized strips of skin. Sliced jalapeño provided heat, mint contributed brightness, and a fluffy fried egg washed yolk over steamed white rice.
It was surprising to find Daikon Cake ($6.50) on the menu, but the Komenkul family has some Chiu Chow heritage. The labor-intensive starter features steamed-and-deep-fried radish cakes stir-fried with dried shrimp, shiitake mushrooms, ground peanuts, bean sprouts and scallions. The cakes become crusty, chewy and addictive when spooned with Sriracha.
Noodle with Duck Soup ($6.25 Ped Pa-Lo) is Rodded’s signature dish, and we enjoyed the lean stewed duck slices and crunchy bean sprouts in cinnamon-tinged soy broth. Rodded has five different noodles available, and we opted for flat rice.
Spicy Eggplant ($8) was a better-than-normal version of a widespread Thai stir-fry featuring tender eggplant slices, onion, chiles, basil and juicy ground pork.
My third visit started with Duck Feet ($6.25) stewed in savory soy-spiked broth that offered big bones sporting little more than skin and cartilage, which was oddly satisfying.
Leek Cake ($5.25) is available fried or steamed. Fried cakes sported crispy coats and leeks-a-plenty with each bite. The dish comes with sweet, syrupy soy sauce, which tastes even better with chiles and toasted garlic, which they’ll add if asked.
Noodle With Beef Soup with Everything ($7.25) featured a fairly mild broth and a panoply of beef parts, including firm beef balls (gumball and “giant” sized), sliced beef, stewed beef, supple tendon and slightly funky liver. I selected “small” noodles.
Prontip Komenkul brought out a complimentary paper boat featuring Fried Bananas sporting thin, crisp sheathes, soft, sweet plantains and surprisingly little oil. This is a contender for Thai Town’s best dessert.
Rodded also has outlying dishes like Hei Nam Chicken (weekends only) and sukiyaki, though Danny Komenkul ensured us that sukiyaki has Thai provenance, and isn’t just Japanese.
Rodded doesn’t have Thai Town’s largest menu, and other restaurants close later, but every dish we tried has been comforting and flavorful, and the restaurant’s earned our devotion.