LA Times restaurant critic Bill Addison says that when considering his pick for Restaurant of the Year, he is looking for a spot that has a clear sense of place within its community. “It has a confluence of elements to it that include delicious food, of course, but also something more — a connection to L.A. that feels not only an absolute part of the city but is driving the culinary conversation forward in a really impactful way.”
This year, Addison crowned Anajak Thai with the title. The Sherman Oaks restaurant was opened 40 years ago, well before Los Angeles became a feast of Thai restaurants. When Ricky Pichetrungsi suffered a stroke in 2019, his son Justin, who had a successful career as an art director at Disney, returned to take over the kitchen. There Justin experimented with making fish tacos with splashes of fish sauce which evolved into Thai Taco Tuesday, aka #TTT on Instagram.
Justin broke away from his parents’ tradition, introducing a sold out omakase menu. “What I really admire about Justin,” says Addison, “is that because he sees himself as an artist, he knew he had to bring it into his experience as a hands-on chef/owner.”