Friday, September 18, 2009

Jitlada Part Two: The Advanced Guide

Earlier, I wrote a post for the beginner's guide to Jitlada. Almost half a year later, I've finally completed the advanced diner's guide to Jitlada. What makes me an expert? Well, I eat with two, native, Thai foodies who order the  most authentic dishes. They also host a monthly Jitlada dinner. I've been there five times and it only gets better ever time.

Jitlada has really become an LA sensation. It used to be a hole-in-the-wall that was only busy Thurs night through Sunday night. Now, it can be packed on a Tues night. The reason being, it is the best Thai food in LA, if not the world. 

This review is for the spicier, more unusual dishes from their acclaimed Southern menu. It's not for everyone, and to be honest, none of these dishes are my fave. But I'm glad I tried them and I got to experience authentic Southern Thai cuisine.

Pumpkin Lamb Curry - I highly recommend this dish, it's a good "doorway" dish into spicier southern Thai food. The curry (highly flavored in tumeric) overwhelms the tender pieces of lamb (which is good because lamb meat is too gamey for me). The pumpkin adds an unusual texture and mutes some of the spiciness. (pictured below)

Knanom jun naam yaa - rice vermicelli in yellow fish curry, it is served with an assortment of vegetables. This was the spiciest dish I ate at Jitlada. I warned earlier not to order spicy level 5. It's because of this dish, it literally made me cry, twice (haha). It wasn't particularly tasty but if you want genuinely spicy Thai food, this dish is for you.

Puu pen phla - raw blue crab with lemongrass, mint and chile. This is an unusual dish, it mostly tastes of the chile and lemongrass, the raw crab flavors only peeps through. Since it's raw, the flesh is gummy, rather than firm. I don't care for raw crab so I didn't like this dish, but it's delicious to eat on top of rice.

Here's some pictures I didn't post last time:

Fried Soft Shell Crab

Steamed Mussels

Thai Custard

Here's a pic of our monthly Jitlada group. If you'd like to join us, click on the link for more info, it's free.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Saladang Song Leaves Me in Perfect Harmony

Song means "two" in Thai, so English equivalent to Saladang Song is Saladang 2. Saladang 1, or just Saladang is next door. Why would you have two restaurants next to each other? I don't know but their menu says, "Have you ever heard Siamese twins sing a duet?" I haven't but it must be an exquisite sound indeed.

Song's space is beautiful, if not the most beautiful space for a Thai restaurant. The outdoor patio's ironwork cast beautiful shadows in the sunset. Inside diners are offered a lovely view from their large glass windows. Proudly displayed near their entrance is their 1998 James Beard award for best restaurant design.


Not only is it the most beautiful, but it is arguably the most unique and tasty Thai restaurant I've been to. The menu offers ecletic, exotic dishes that I've never seen before (and trust me, being part of a Thai Foodies meetup, I've been to A LOT of Thai restaurants). I recommend going with a large group so you can taste various dishes, as one dish didn't impress me, but rather the consistant flow of good dishes. Here's a rundown of what we ordered:

Yum-ta-lay - seafood combination on a bed of mixed greens (pictured below) This dish wasn't as exotic as the others but it was delicious. The seafood was fresh and the sauces was tasty.  It was my favorite.

Tod-mon-kao-pohd - sweet corn fritters served with cucumber salad (pictured below). This was an interesting, fun dish. The fritters had whole kernals of corn and served as a crunchy pancake. It was surprisingly good, as the corn kernals exploded with flavor.

Ka-nom-jeen-gang-kiew-wann - Rice vermicelli with fish balls in green curry. The presentation of the dish was beautiful and the curry was very flavorful, no fishiness from the fish balls. I didn't care for the taste of the vermicelli much, I'd prefer rice, but it made for a beautiful presentation.

Gang-kiew-wann - green curry with eggplant, basil and chicken. This was a more recognizable green curry but with the addition of the delicious eggplant. It complemented the curry very nicely, as it added a softer texture, while the green curry had a good, spicy kick to it. Delicious.

Nam-prik Saladang Song - kiwi fruit paste served with vegetable for dipping and grilled salmon. This was a beautiful dish, as there was a large assortment of vegetables available for dipping. However, I didn't care for the salmon (I don't like cooked salmon) and I thought their salmon was overcooked and dry. However, I've never seen this dish before, so I give credit for creativity.

Pad See lew - of course, what's a Thai restaurant without Pad See Lew and Pad Thai? It did seem out of place here, as everything else was so exotic, but I'm sure they try to appease their customers by offering two old stand-bys. Chris loves Pad See Lew, so I've had it at every restaurant we've been to (I should do a Pad See Lew Throwdown) and Saladang Song's is the second best Pad See Lew I've had. I liked how the rice noodles were perfectly cooked, not mushy, and every noodle was separate and retained its shaped.

There was one more dish whose name I forgot but it was exceptional. It was a mild curry, resembling panang, but it had whole grapes and seafood in it. The grapes and seafood paired beautifully, the grapes added sweetness to the rich curry and delicate seafood. I wish I could remember the name, hopefully the wait staff will know what I'm talking about next time I want to order it. 

Overall, it was a great night; the weather was perfect, the group was jovial, and the food was great. I can't wait to come back and try their breakfast menu. My only caution is it's pricey but you're paying for the ambiance. The service was a bit surly, there seemed to be a language barrier, yet the manager seemed concerned about our party's happiness. I recommend making reservations, as the restaurant was packed on a Saturday night.

Saladang Song on Urbanspoon


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