All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012
OK, I have been going to Torung (at the corner of Hollywood Blvd & Wilton) since 1982. In about 1986, I discovered a dish there with my then boyfriend. It was called the #7 – or Torung Special Noodles. It is described on the current menu as:
**Torung Noodle (the double asterisk indicates “very spicy hot dish”)
Spicy pan fried rice noodles with bok choy.
You can order it with your choice of meat – chicken, pork, beef, tofu – for $5.45 or with shrimp, or a mix of chicken-beef-shrimp-squid – for $6.15. Back in the day, it automatically came with chicken. In about 1989 or so, when I gave up meat, I began ordering it with nothing added – just the noodles, egg, bok choy & house spice combination. I think it used to cost $3.45. To say that I was obsessed with #7 is an understatement. I could eat it every day for dinner and for long stretches – did just that. My boyfriend had an addiction to the nearby (and original location of) Zankou Chicken (at Sunset & Normandie) so, sometimes, we would each just indulge our individual tastes. Eventually, however, he got so fed up with my “Number Seven” response to his “what should we do for dinner?” question – that he forbade me to utter the words “number” and “seven.” Ever. This might sound extreme – but we were both fixated with & endlessly quoting Lost in America, at the time. I believe this was his homage to Albert Brooks forbidding Julie Hagerty from using either the word “nest” or “egg” – after she lost their nest egg playing Number 22 in Roulette in Vegas. Still, to this day, I sometimes expect thunder to clap & lightning to strike me down when I dare utter the phrase, “number seven.”
Imagine my mixed emotions, years later, when they reassigned the dish and it became known as “Number 36.” In one way, it seemed somehow like a fresh start & a guiltless way to order an old standby delight. On the other hand, it felt a bit like the end of an era. That Zankou Chicken loving boyfrrend is now the King of Pizza at Pink Flamingo in Paris (cited on this blog already a few times) and hears the words number & seven in French now (numéro sept), stirring no irksome memories of my spiral-eyed addiction to a certain spicy Thai dish, while I remain in Los Angeles and order Torung Noodles by calling the restaurant and saying, “Number 36, please. No meat.” There is something sad about that…though I don’t know what it could possibly be. 🙂
The good news is – Torung Noodles have persevered – and they are as delicious as ever! A very simple dish, just big, flat rice noodles, stir-fried with egg, bok choy & some amazing combination of indistinguishable spices. It is not too greasy & one order is a pretty hefty quantity for a person eating it alone – as I do. No bullshit “community” Thai family-style sharing of my almighty Number 7. And – Number 7 is how is remains known by anyone that has known me (and my obsession) for any length of time. I have ordered this so many times & with such unrelenting frequency – I can call after having been gone away for a year or more and order “Torung Special Noodles – no meat” and they say, “Is this Christine?”
Torung has many other dishes worth mentioning & several that should probably be avoided. The old menu had a dish that contained “pre-served vegetables.” I assume the vegetables were preserved rather than pre-served – but it was a genuine put-off all the same. Sadly, the new menu seems to have gotten rid of most, if not all, of the hilarious typos….but as long as Torung Noodles – called by any number – are on there – I will return. Again & again & again.
Know that the room is an evolving mishmash of schizophrenic decor. It used to have the requisite gilt-framed portraits of the Thai women in those unicorn hats alongside Snoopy paper lanterns and dusty Xmas decorations (year round). There are TV’s & an indoor fountain in which there might – or might not – be fish. It is ALL comfortable booths, though, and a really diverse clientele. While they are often crowded – you VERY seldom have to wait. Their hours are LATE. They do not open until 6pm (despite the menu I have which says they open at 5pm) and they close at 3AM – 3:30am on Friday & Saturday. It is CASH ONLY (but the most $$$ dish on the menu is only $8.45 – a spicy seafood combination plate) and parking is a son of a bitch. Do not park at the Mobil or Pier One – because they tow.
I will post about Torung again in the future & point out a few other dishes that I find quite tasty – their soups, in particular.
So – go to Torung – and DEFINITELY order the former #7 – the Torung Noodles #36.
All Photos © Christine Elise McCarthy 2012