I am listing this under “Travel” only because I do not have a tab for the Inland Empire and it extends to an area I do not ordinarily cover within southern California. However, I think this is an interesting outing on a Sunday for you and your family to drive out to Chino Hills’ Wat Phrathat Dol Suthep USA, a Thai Buddhist temple. You may either choose to wander around the grounds before lunch, or after, but plan to stay at least two to three hours for some spiritual culture and Thai street food.
On Sundays starting at around 10.30am, an array of vendors line up to serve an array of Thai street food to the public. Start by exchanging some tokens at the entrance. If you’re with a bunch of people you won’t need more than $20 of tokens each. I suggest each person order from a different vendor and pool your takings in to share. There is nothing over $6, with most hovering around the $5 mark.
Once you have your tokens in hand, take a stroll down the line of vendors and decide what you want to eat, and then who is responsible to order which items. Some are already packed and ready to go. If you want noodle or rice dishes, they are cooked to order and might take a little while, so do this first.
We like to start by picking up some Thai Beef Jerky ($5), it is nice and chewy possessing a great char. Its salty taste with a hint of sweetness is best enjoyed with sticky rice which you can purchase for $1 a bag.
I suggest you order your Pad Thai, Pad See Ew or Fried Rice ($5) as soon as you get there because it takes a while to cook. If you’re craving soup noodles, do the same.
While you’re waiting for your noodles and rice to be cooked, pick up some Chicken Skewers ($6/3pcs) from the last stall. These are grilled on a hibachi right on site and is delicious. The marinade is a blend of soy seasonings with a hint of sweetness and pair well with the sticky rice, or if you prefer, steamed rice.
The same vendor also sells Thai Sour Sausage ($6) a signature Issan dish from northern Thailand.
Som Tam ($5) or Thai papaya salad is definitely worth ordering. It is spicy and mouth-puckering good. The papaya is fresh and crunchy with a generous amount of peanuts in the mix. It is one of the best som tam I’ve eaten — well, of the less fermented kind at least.
Pad See Ew ($5) is a stir fried flat rice noodle dish with eggs and gai lan (Chinese broccoli). Add chicken for a complete meal. It is packed with “wok hei” the flavor which comes from an extremely high temperature wok which leaves a slight tinge of char on the noodles.
The same goes for Fried Rice ($5) from the same vendor. The sweet Asian man is busy from start to finish as he prepares orders one by one with the only wok he has on site.
Craving some soup noodles? The beef noodles with beef balls are swimming in a dark, rich broth with ong choy (water spinach) and chewy tapioca noodles. I like to add some spicy condiments to the bowl before I dig in.
Kanom Krok ($3) are little coconut cakes with a hint of sweetness. I find them a tad too sweet as a savory item, preferring to eat them as dessert, but my friends love them. Their pillowy texture is delightful and the salty sweet finish is quite addicting.
There is also a stand to purchase your greens and Thai herbs. Or, if you prefer, take a potted plant of the herbs home to plant in your garden. When you’re done, take a stroll around the grounds and see the various Buddhas dotted around the compound. If you’d like to offer a blessing, step into the little temple (remove your shoes!) and purchase some incense and make an offering. If you’re unsure of what to do, there are Buddhist monks around who are more than happy to show you.
Wat Phrathat Dol Suthep USA
2948 Chino Hills Pkwy
Chino Hills, CA