Whatever you’ve heard about this Thai Boat Noodles place in Hollywood, I promise you…you’re underrating it.
I don’t believe I’m here either.
Sapp’s Coffee Shop doesn’t scream “must try”…at least from outward appearances.
I’m sitting in the middle of a grubby, nondescript Coffee Shop on the outskirts of Hollywood/Thai Town. It’s not the nicest looking place I’ve ever been too. The signs on the wall are mostly Thai, a language that I don’t understand. They only take cash. It was murderously hard to find a parking space, and now that I’m here I’m not sure I ever want to come back.
Then I have one taste…just one taste of their soup…
…and I start wondering what body appendage I can sacrifice in order to live here full time.
I have never tasted anything quite like this.
What I’m having are Thai Boat Noodles. Not a particularly complex dish. Its just something you can have as you troll the canals and waterways of Thailand, served right there on the water. It’s a utility dish, something cheap and edible for the people who work on those waterways.
But oooh, man. Do they know how to live.
I have been hearing about Sapp Coffee Shop since I’ve been living in Los Angeles. It was one of those places, because of where it was, the way it looks, that I believed it’s reputation.
Yet, somehow, I kept pushing it back and back down further on my list. Yeah, I know its good, but…ahhh, there’s San Gabriel, ahhh, there’s Soon Tofu, ahhh, there’s the Night Market. Let’s go there. We’ll get to Sapp, but let’s go to those other places first.
Then, I’m tooling around Jonathan Gold’s Best Restaurant List for 2014, and…son of a gun, there it is. Still there after all these years.
So, what the hell’s my excuse now?
The second hardest thing you’ll have to deal with is the parking. The hardest thing you’ll have to deal with is basically that learning curve that’ll hit you while you’re sitting there.
A place this…ordinary makes stuff that is this…extraordinary. How? Why?
Question not, my young Padawan. Just enjoy. Just enjoy.
WHAT SHOULD I GET?: If you don’t get some form of the damn greatest Boat Noodles in the world (and no, I don’t think that’s an exaggeration) then I don’t want to know you.
Question is how adventurous do you want to be?
You see there are Boat Noodles and then there are Boat Noodles. One kind is your basic Boat Noodles, with some Beef, pretty light all things concerned.
But then there’s another kind, the kind the probably the Thai-American community is digging into, stuff with Meatballs and Beef Tendon. Just a lot more meat in it, and a lot of meat that the average non-Thai-American might find a little strange.
Don’t be afraid. I say dive on in there…but if you want to wait a bit, try it on a second visit to be sure. These are the Boat Noodles you’re probably looking for.
What else. I don’t have the largest stomach in the world, but I did have a hankering for the Grilled Pork. Nothing fancy here, just good pork grilled to perfection. Thing of it is, apparently, I did not know how to eat it. Y’see, when they sat it down in front of me they also sat down a small dish of intensely red, intensely chilied up sauce. I was afraid to touch it. But the ladies who run Sapp pointed at it, all but say “You gotta”.
The ladies who run Sapp were absolutely right. The sauce was delicious and spicy, and not hot spicy, just savory spicy. If they bottled that sauce, I’d bring it home with me.
IMPORTANT SAFETY TIP, PEOPLE: Looks can be deceiving. There is a bit of a comfort cure you might have to get over to get your Boat Noodle on. The inside of Sapp doesn’t scream Haute Cuisine, and the outside isn’t too comforting either. You’ll feel like you’re on the wrong side of the tracks for a while there, but hang on…soup’s coming.
Now, I went in the middle of the afternoon for Lunch. How safe it is at night? Well, I’m still guessing pretty safe. It’s still a fairly decent hipster neighborhood up the block. Mostly residences behind Sapp. But your eyes and your mind may take some convincing. If I came at night, I’d try to park close to Hollywood Blvd. and just keep my head on a swivel. Still, I don’t think you’ll be in any danger.
Oh, and remember…this is a Cash Only Establishment.
PARKING: The hardest part. Man. Sapp is located in a three store Strip Mall, with what? Maybe seven spaces in total in front? I’m guessing three to four will be perpetually filled. Failing that, you can use the meters to the left of the Restaurant on N. Kingsley. Failing that, you can try Hollywood Blvd.
Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Tel: (323) 665-1035