LA Day 5 – Kickass Bar Eats, Great Beers, and Reliable Thai Food

A relatively light day, but no less satisfying:

  • Highland Park Brewery / The Hermosillo (Highland Park)
  • Ruen Pair (Thaitown)

Highland Park Brewery / The Hermosillo

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I can’t remember how I decided to add Highland Park Brewery to my list of places to check out, but their range of interesting low-to-moderate ABV beers attracted me. Plus I’m all about hidden gems, the underdogs, and the little guy. I ended up drinking a beer here that had weeds in it!

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Beer list projected on wall via old school overhead projector! Feels like high school all over again!

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Sun-Soaked is a 3.2% Berliner Weisse. See? Berliner Weisses are the hot new beer style! Ham Porter (“made with a whole ham”) sounds really funny. I tried a sample and it was indeed smoky and almost savoury. I dunno if I could drink a whole 16oz of it, but maybe it could work as a brunch beer 😛

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The menu.

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My DIY flight:

  • Vacation (4.5%) – Belgian Single (I guess as opposed to a Dubbel or Tripel). Semi-sweet, yeasty, bubbly, saison-like quality to it. Easy to drink and tasty!
  • Nebraska (6.3%) – Farmhouse Saison. Not a ton of depth but good with a semi-dry, long, lightly bitter finish. Good carbonation. Citrus perfuminess. Zesty.
  • Yard Beer (5.4%) – This was a sour wheat with herbs, weeds and citrus. I think it’s called “Yard Beer” because they literally picked stuff out of their yard to make it, including herbs and weeds! Sour, funky aroma. Sourness level is good, with the tang lasting about 10 seconds on the palate then dissipating to some lingering funk.
  • Beer Spaceship (4.5%) – Pale Ale with Galaxy hops. Smoother and lower carbonation than the other beers. Dry with a medium bitterness. Sweet and fruity nose but dry on the tongue. Mild soapiness in there too, which I didn’t mind.

All the beers were very solid, and great examples of their style.

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Generous 5+oz pours 🙂 The bartender was very nice and accomodating. She even gave me a sample of the very last bit from the Berliner Weisse keg:

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Unfortunately after I took this picture she took away the glass and I didn’t even get a chance to taste it! 🙁 I gotta be faster next time 😛

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Beer Battered Onion Rings. SO GOOD! These are my ideal onion ring. A simple beer batter, no stupid crumby coating, just straight-up batter fried to light ‘n crispy perfection. They use the milder red onions too! Buttermilk ranch dip is perfect because the buttermilk tang cleanses and plays nicely with the greasiness. A+

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These stayed crunchy too, after a good hour of drinking. Lots of crunchy batter bits at the bottom of the basket. The onion rings at the very bottom were too greasy and saturated, so maybe they could drain these a bit more before plating them up, but after a few beers it matters a lot less anyways 😉

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Crispy Brussel Sprouts with farmhouse white cheddar and lemon. The cheddar was a great complement to the cabbagey flavour and the lemon a great counterpoint to the fried quality. These were very good and Wicca demolished a good 2/3 of this.

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I was really surprised to see this kind of cheese & charcuterie platter served in was essentially feels like a neighbourhood dive bar, but the food that I tried was way above what was necessary, so I came away very impressed.

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One more for the road: Hello LA IPA (6.8%) – West Coast IPA with Mosaic and Citra hops. It’s a great hoppy mosaic IPA. If you like the super tropical fruity quality of mosaic and citra, you really can’t go wrong with this beer.

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Highland Park Brewery also had a few bottles for sale, although I thought they were a bit too expensive…or maybe I just wasn’t in the mood to spend $15, $18 or $22 for 500ml (16.9oz) bottles.

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Some other bottles for sale, including a Mikkeller Beer Geek Brunch Weasel.

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Some Portland representation too! Hair of the Dog Adam, Fred, and Doggie Claws.

The kickass food, solid beers, and friendly bartender make this place another winner!


Ruen Pair

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Even though Thai food in Vancouver is improving (Longtail Kitchen, Kin Kao), there still isn’t a restaurant that compares to the breadth and quality of Ruen Pair in Hollywood/Thaitown.

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We threw the dice on this Fried Green Mussels dish. Mussels with scrambled egg and bean sprouts. The description didn’t quite match the reality, as you’ll see below.

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A rice dish sounds good too.

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Stew Pork Leg over Rice. Wicca made this same dish a few months ago:

Wicca wanted to actually try this dish in a restaurant to see how it compared to her version.

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This is my idea of a humble, even plain-looking dish that just explodes with flavour. The tender meat, the gelatinous pork fat and skin, the sweetness of the braising liquid, the crunch and sourness from the pickled vegetables (they’re in there somewhere), and the spicy/salty/sour kick from the sauce.

As good as this dish was, I still prefer Wicca’s version more 🙂 She served it with a simpler chili vinegar garlic sauce that just cuts through the meaty, fatty pork hocks.

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Most people might not know, but Thai food is all about the customer customizing their food to their liking. You want it sweeter or spicier? Help yourself to any of these tableside condiments! We actually didn’t use any of these because we were happy with how the dishes came out.

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Papaya Salad with Raw Crab. We had this dish back in 2012 and I had to have it again.

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We got this medium spicy and it had me sweating buckets, as usual. I loved sucking on the raw crab parts, getting at all the sweet, gooey meat inside 😀 I seem to recall a slight fermenty seafood funk that I really enjoyed the first time I ate this dish, but that element was missing this time. I still really enjoyed eating this though.

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Fried Green Mussels. I was imagining something more like an omelette from the “scrambled egg” description in the menu, but this is more like a huge deep-fried fritter with an egg batter.

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Bean sprouts underneath, to make you feel less guilty about eating the caloric Thai equivalent of a Bloomin’ Onion. Very crunchy with softer batter parts. Tasted good with the sweet sriracha dipping sauce. It could easily be shared between four people, so we couldn’t finish it.

Ruen Pair was once again solid, reliable, authentic, and tasty.

Ruen Pair on Urbanspoon


Continue with LA Trip Report Day 6 or go back to the index.

One thought on “LA Day 5 – Kickass Bar Eats, Great Beers, and Reliable Thai Food”

  1. You haven’t given in to any pork belly temptations on this trip so far 🙂 pork belly tacos… MmMmm… I could use some of those right now!

    Those fried mussels look like heaven as do the other two dishes you guys ordered there 🙂

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