Everyone has their favorite Thai takeout place. Where I live, I typically do Min's Kitchen or Woodlands Cafe. But if I lived near Kozy Korner, I'd be going there regularly.
It's for people who, like me, enjoy strong Thai flavors — lemon grass, lime, chili peppers, basil, galanga, fish sauce. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Kozy Korner is as tiny as it sounds. However, once you're seated at one of the 10 or so tables it's not an issue.
A group of Thai women keep the restaurant humming, boxing up to-go orders, delivering steaming plates with lightning speed and all while avoiding collisions with an impressive sixth sense. There's a comfortable, homey feel to the place made even more so by the bulletin boards filled with torn photos of satisfied clientele, “the Kozy Korner Family.”
My friend and I came for the bargain lunch special ($6.95 for one of 16 options with rice and fried wontons) but couldn't resist getting much more. The lunch special green curry was wildly aromatic from kaffir leaves and satisfyingly creamy from coconut milk. Full of bamboo shoots and red pepper slices, it's the kind of thing you crave when you've been jilted or when it's raining outside.
The same could be said of the thom kha kai soup. Fragrant with galanga (in the ginger family), tangy with lime juice, and full of tomato quarters and plump straw mushrooms, it totally delivers. There's some chicken in there, but not a ton. They put their money in the broths and sauces.
We ordered the green papaya salad because it's not on every menu and because my friend's friend said it's the thing he misses most from his Thai homeland. This dish is not for everyone. The under-ripe papaya is slivered, mixed with bean sprouts and drenched in a salty dressing heavy in fish sauce and dried shrimp. I enjoyed quite a few forkfuls but couldn't finish it.
The glass noodle salad is wonderful, a sprightly mix of noodles, carrots, cabbage, ground chicken and shrimp with a strong citrus flavor, a chili flicker, and a cilantro-red onion kick. I love when everything is cut to equal size in a salad. Each bite sparkles with flavor.
Remember as a kid having to pull unwanted things out of your meal? Fish bones or bay leaves or chicken gizzards? I do, and it's a fond memory.
The authentic chefs at Kozy Korner deliver bowlfuls that you have to pull things out of — kaffir lime leaves, lemon grass shoots, chunks of galanga. There are some wonderful things to add, as well. A quartet of chili-based condiments can be brought to the table for the fiery at heart.
Though there was a crowd waiting outside, we never felt pressured to leave. Just know if you're not there by noon for lunch you'll probably have to wait for a table.
If you're looking for a more elegant Thai meal, you might go to the lovely Tep Thai next door or the stylish Sedthee around the corner on Brand Boulevard. But I like the Bangkok street-feel of Kozy Korner: cozy, comforting and yes, a little bit cramped.
Where: 213 W. Wilson Ave., Glendale
When: Monday to Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Price: Soups, salads, noodles, curries, seafood, entrees, appetizers $4.95 to $12.95.
More info: (818) 242-6608