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The L.A. TACO Guide to the Best Mango Sticky Rice in Los Angeles, Mapped

1:59 PM PDT on July 7, 2021

Bhan Kanom Thai sticky rice.

Bhan Kanom Thai sticky rice.

[dropcap size=big]T[/dropcap]he first time I tried mango sticky rice, I had a Ratatouille moment where I peered into the universe and finally understood the appeal of arroz con leche. Mango sticky rice is a dessert that originates from Thailand but is eaten throughout Southeast Asia. The dessert consists of juicy slices of mango with sweet coconut sticky rice. Part of the reason the Thai dessert works so well for me is the texture of the rice. Where arroz con leche is characteristic for its mushy texture, the grains still have individuality in mango sticky rice. Each grain of sticky rice is bound together with the coconut sauce, made of palm sugar, salt, and coconut cream. If only my mom had the wherewithal to add mango to her arroz con leche.

A big part of constructing a good mango sticky rice is the ripeness of the mango. “My mom is such a stickler for the ripeness of mangoes,” says Justin Pichetrungsi, owner and chef of Anajak Thai, “She’ll have me drive around with the cases in my car, just so they’ll become riper faster, almost until the skin becomes wrinkly.” Equally vital to the dish is how the mango is sliced to properly portion the mango and rice for equal flavor distribution. The sticky rice is slightly overcooked so that once it’s mixed with the coconut cream sauce, it gets that glossy appearance.

In L.A., mango sticky rice is varied by its toppings, type of rice, and colors. Some prefer a pared-down approach, using only the two titular ingredients (and coconut syrup), but others employ the use of the more fibrous purple sticky rice, or pandan leaf to impart more coconut flavor to the rice, or even shaped like a heart, as a visual reminder of the delicious majesty of the dessert dish.

Mango season goes on until September, so you all got plenty of time to enjoy all of these amazing versions found in Los Angeles. Pro tip: Always call ahead to either reserve one or two and make sure it is not sold out for the day. 

Anajak Thai's mango sticky rice. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Anajak Thai's mango sticky rice. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Mango and sticky rice kakigori. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Mango and sticky rice kakigori. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Anajak Thai

Sherman Oaks

Anajak Thai is a special place to get Thai food in L.A. A big part of that is Pichetrungsi’s pairing of family Thai recipes with modernity, like his use of dry-aged fish or pork. But equally important is their mango sticky rice. They use “Champagne” Ataulfo mangos, known for their custardy flesh that barely has any fibers. The mango sticky rice at Anajak is simple. Pichetrungsi did not want to complicate the dish. Instead, he wanted to honor his mother and aunt with the dessert. “To be honest, I wanted to give my mom and my aunt something that they could be proud of,” says Pichetrungsi. Bonus: In June, Anajak Thai had a special collab with Kuramoto Ice, and they served an amazing mango sticky rice kakigori (Japanese shaved ice). Lucious shaved ice combined with coconut cream and mango puree. It’s the best raspado you might ever try. They announced they will return on July 27th, so clear your plans.

Chiang Mai Thai Kitchen
Chiang Mai Thai Kitchen. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Chiang Mai Thai Kitchen. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.
Chiang Mai Thai Kitchen. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Chiang Mai Thai Kitchen

Valley Village

Chiang Mai is a gem with many favorite Northern Thai dishes, but they have a special mango sticky rice. They color the rice with butterfly pea tea to give it a blueish purple tinge. Their mango sticky rice uses fresh manilla mango drizzled with the coconut cream sauce then garnished with sliced strawberries and toasted yellow mung beans. The mung beans introduce a crunch factor giving the dish a wonderful textural dimension. Don’t forget to order an Anchan drink made from butterfly pea tea and lime. One of the employees was so confident in their sticky rice that as I left the restaurant, she said, “We’ll see you tomorrow.”

My Mango Sticky Rice. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

My Mango Sticky Rice

Palms

Perhaps the only pop-up that specializes in mango sticky rice. On weekends, My Sticky Rice sets up on the side of the road, joined by various other pop-ups, in Palms next to the Trader Joe’s Plaza. They only offer mango sticky rice with white or purple rice and milk teas using coconut milk. The work is divided at this pop-up. One peels and slices ripe mango while the other combines coconut sauce with sticky rice in a container until it’s fully incorporated. You can choose between purple or white sticky rice and the optional addition of purple yam puree. The mango is garnished with toasted mung beans for the crunchy texture. It makes all the difference.

Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle mango sticky rice.
Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle

Silver Lake

Wat Dong Moon is a Thai food outpost outside of Silver Lake with the most loving version of mango sticky rice. It’s shaped in the form of a heart, outlined by sliced mango and filled in with purple sticky rice, coconut cream and garnished with sesame seeds. Purple or black sticky rice tends to be a bit chewy, but it’s hardly noticeable when combined with coconut cream and mango. It’s the most striking in appearance, but the sliced mango also makes it easier to portion, so there’s an appropriate amount of mango to rice ratio in each bite.

Mango Sticky Rice ice cream from Wanderlust Creamery.
Mango Sticky Rice ice cream from Wanderlust Creamery. Photo by Cesar Hernandez for L.A. TACO.

Wanderlust Creamery

Multiple Locations

Wanderlust is the only ice cream shop on the list because one of their staple flavors is mango sticky rice. Each scoop of mango sticky rice has coconut ice cream marbled with yellow swirls of mango. Through some strange alchemy, they’ve managed to recreate the starchiness and saltiness of a mango sticky rice. It also strikes the proper ratio of mango, sticky rice, and coconut. Make sure to get it on a crunchy ube cone because L.A.

 

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Luv2Eat Thai Bistro

Hollywood

Luv2Eat is one of the best places to get thai food in L.A., period. Whether it’s takeout or dine-in, Luv2Eat is always a good bet for getting delicious and spicy Thai food. The best way to punctuate a spicy meal here is their stellar mango sticky rice. The coconut cream sauce is sweet, salty, and rich. It almost tastes like a white caramel sauce made with coconut cream and sugar. The salinity of coconut is important here. The saltiness highlights the richness and sweetness. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the only way to end a meal here. Make sure to order one of their Thai teas. Both the lemon version and milk tea are a refreshing reprieve from the heat.

 

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Jitlada

Thai Town

Jitlada is an L.A. institution that specializes in Southern Thai food, and every meal here is guaranteed to end with mango sticky rice. Not to be confused with their powerful salad that uses green mangos, shrimp, and shredded coconut. Their mango sticky rice is a nice reset after a torrent of fiery Thai curry. Jitlada is one of the most consistent places to get good mango sticky rice. Glossy sticky rice soaked in a coconut cream sauce topped with sliced chunks of mango. Enjoy with a frosty Thai tea for optimal enjoyment.

Bhan Kanom Thai sticky rice.
Bhan Kanom Thai sticky rice.
Bhan Kanom Thai sticky rice.

Bhan Kanom Thai

East Hollywood

Bhan Kanom Thai is a market with all sorts of Thai desserts and Thai antojitos. Specialties like Kanom Bueng (crispy crepe), pandan custard, pangchi, and of course, mango sticky rice. If you go to the back, you can see stacks of clear containers with prepared mango sticky rice—soon to be sold out. Their version comes with a bed of glossy coconut sticky rice next to a whole sliced mango. They also include a coconut cream sauce that’s slightly saltier than most versions around L.A. but works to highlight the coconut and sweet mango flavor.

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