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Jitlada's amazing Southern Thai menu

Thanks to Chicago hound Eric M.'s rather obscure post a few days ago, we tried some of the Southern Thai specialties at Jitlada which has been under new ownership for a year now. Wipe away all memories of the old Jitlada, print out Eric's translation
(http://lthforum.com/bb/viewtopic.php?...) and get over to Jitlada if you want a really unique, authentic, and yes, possibly painfully hot Thai experience.
Here's some photos:
http://eatingla.blogspot.com/2007/06/...

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  1. Thanks - great review and pics. I'm there next week for sure. And thx for the link to Eric's work - wow. That red snapper looks crazy.

    1. I also ducked into Jitlada becomes of EM's post a few days ago. I looked at the back of the menu at the portion written entirely in Thai. While some specialties were out of stock (or out of season), that menu is certainly large enough to warrant coming back to do more explorations.

      I printed out the translation the morning of Eric's post and they were a little bit confused at how I was armed with such information. Needless to say, I hope they're ready for the "Chowhound effect" as fans flock.

      I had the oxtail soup (which actually reminded me of something I might find at the Thai chain frequented by the Mexican population, Thai Ocha) as well as the soft-shelled crab curry which was amazing.

      Haven't completed the blog post yet, but the pics are uploaded:
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/taste-bu...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/taste-bu...
      http://www.flickr.com/photos/taste-bu...

      18 Replies
      1. re: SauceSupreme

        wow, the soft shell crab curry looks interesting -- what was the spice level like?

        1. re: Chowpatty

          It had heat but not enough to distract away from the flavor, only enhance it.

          To give you an indication of my spice tolerance, at Chili My Soul, I can eat a 6 with no problems, 7 gives me a delightful burn, and at 8 I start noticing the spice more than the flavor of the dish.

        2. re: SauceSupreme

          Is this the soft-shell crab listed on Eric's menu translation (No. 18)? and if not, then please please give us your insider info. on how to order this because I simply must have some. Thx.

            1. re: mc michael

              WANNA BET? i'll thumb-wrestle for it!

              but still need to know if it's a special item that Eric needs to identify for us...please Eric, don't keep us in crab limboland!

            2. re: Local

              It's on the standard menu under seafood.

              1. re: SauceSupreme

                Thank you...i went to their website but menu/info. pages won't open, Eric's trans. was tempting enough- your photo of the soft-shells...well, sealed the deal.

                ...at least the website gives a map- I can set the OnStar...(now if i could just find my car keys)...

                1. re: SauceSupreme

                  You raved about that particular preparation after your first visit and I don't doubt that it was indeed great, but if you are ever feeling a bit more, ahem, *adventurous* on one of your future visits, I would encourage you to try the soft-shelled crab curry which appears on the Southern menu (and on my translation of the same, i.e. "phat phet luuk taw puu nìm"). [FWIW, it also appears on the standard menu under the heading "Curries," as "Southern Curry with Soft Shell Crabs."] At any rate, this prep. includes a very notable Southern delicacy called sa-taw, or the "sator bean." Similar in appearance and texture to a locust "bean," sator has a bitter and pungent flavour profile which folks come away from absolutely loooooving or absolutely HATING. Like I said, though, only if you are feeling *adventurous*

                  http://www.paradasia.com/1a14_Petai_p...

                  Regards,
                  E.M.

                  1. re: Erik M

                    for a group of 4 or more, would both at one sitting for a side-by-side be too much? (...imho there can never be too much soft-shelled crab). really appreciating your insight, this is a marvelous read...almost can taste it. wish i had smell-o-vision. (guessing the sator bean can't be any stinkier than durian, true?)

                    1. re: Local

                      I think two orders of the curry would be great for four, particularly since you're probably ordering other things off the menu as well. It might be too skimpy if that's all you were ordering among the 4 of you.

                      1. re: SauceSupreme

                        well, actually what i meant was orders of both types of soft-shelled crab ( one in your photo and the one with satar bean that Eric described) - would that be too much of a good thing?

                        but yes, absolutely double orders of whatever we get, or there won't be enough for at least two if not three people ;-)

                        1. re: Local

                          I actually meant what you meant also; ordering one each of the different soft-shelled crab.

                          If that's all you're going to eat, then order two orders of each crab dish, but I would just order one each if you plan on exploring other things on the menu. Worst case scenario is that you have to put in another order!

                          1. re: SauceSupreme

                            or take something home...we are most definitely on the same page ;-) thx.

                      2. re: Local

                        Put it this way, ordering both dishes side-by-side would be, traditionally-speaking, rather "un-Thai," but if that's what you want to do, knock yourself out. <smile> Generally speaking, two liquid, rich-style curry dishes of any sort is one too many for a standard Thai table array. Thais instead are after balance, and if you are interested in putting together a traditional-style meal at Jitlada which has a decidedly Southern Thai-accent, it'd be much more "proper" to order some combination of the following for a party of four:

                        -One or two grilled or fried snack/appetizer items
                        -One or two simple salads
                        -One clean and light soup
                        -One rich curry
                        -One or two meat and/or vegetable stir-frys
                        -Loads of steamed white rice <smile>

                        If you look back at my original writeup--the one which included the photographs--and you look through the *second* series of photos therein, you will get some idea of what I am talking about composition-wise.

                        Good grilled or fried snack/appetizer options from Jitlada's menu(s) would include beef or chicken satay (a classic Southern Thai snack), country fried chicken, Thai honey ribs, and dried/fried beef "jerky."

                        Good salad options from Jitlada's menu(s) would include beef salad, squid salad, coco mango salad, pickled crab salad, raw blue crab salad (available by special arrangement), Amphoe Pak-style papaya salad, crispy catfish salad,

                        A good soup option from Jitalada's menu(s) would include the tom yum, sup hang wua, tumeric-seasoned soup with chicken, sour and spicy soup with giant shrimp, and poh tak. [NB I would NOT order tom kha, as it is not neutral enough to counterbalance the richer Southern-style curries and frys. Besides, depending on which curry you order, tom kha could be rather redundant with all of that coconut milk going on.]

                        A good curry option from Jitalada's menu(s) would include green curry with egg-yolk-stuffed fish balls, Southern Thai-style curry with dried mudfish and water spinach, spicy curry with beef and pickled cassia buds, spicy tumeric-seasoned curry with catfish and wild tea leaves, Phat(tha)lung-style spicy, tumeric-flavoured dry curry with pork or beef (NB It's hotter than hell), and massamun lamb shank (a classic Southern curry).

                        Good stir-fried meat and/or vegetable options would include the various fried whole fish dishes, chinese water crest [sic] on flambe [sic], chinese broccoli with crispy pork, chinese broccoli with salted fish, asparagus stir-fried,

                        --It is important to note the conspicious absence of both noodle and fried rice dishes in my list of suggestions above. Again, ordering these items as part of a traditional Thai table array would be rather "un-Thai." <smile> There IS, however, one rice dish which I would encourage any explorer of Jitlada's Southern-style offerings to try: kao mok kai. I very often liken this classic dish to Thai-style "biryani." <smile>

                        In any event, there are no "rules" when ordering Thai food so please feel free to dismiss any/all of the above commentary entirely. <smile>

                        Regards,
                        E.M.

                        1. re: Erik M

                          ZIKES Eric, i feel as if i should be buying you dinner!!...all the Thai eating essentials...this is fantastic. i've highlighted key pts., will use as crib notes when no one is looking... whaddya bet i see some other diners holding on to the same ;-)

                          ...some of our group do not carry the asbestos tongue and plumbing gene that I and a few others feel fortunate to have 'darwin-ed', ...but it appears there's something for everyone.. again, much appreciated. L.

                      3. re: Erik M

                        Sataw/petai is delicious, but it does haunt you a bit when you go No.1. Think 'powerful asparagus'. Don't let that stop you, though. Lots of people love asparagus, right? Besides the flavour Erik mentioned, the beans also have a wonderful texture: firm and slightly chewy, like al dente pasta.

                    2. re: Local

                      i had the soft-shell crab about a week ago.
                      it was a truly, wonderful, amazing dish.
                      i can't remember how, exactly we ordered it.
                      the combination of flavors and textures was indescribably phenomenal.

                      1. re: westsidegal

                        As they say in the parlance of today's youth... soft shelled crab curry: off the hook. I love that dish. Just the right combination of textures and spices and oh man where has the dish been all my life. Add a little bit of steamed rice and it's perfect.

                  2. Oh, my God, I couldn't be happier!
                    That is a great writeup, Patty.
                    Thanks so much for taking the time.
                    And, thank you all for the votes of confidence!

                    Regards,
                    Erik M.

                    4 Replies
                    1. re: Erik M

                      Eric, if you have any other finds, we're listening/reading!

                      1. re: mc michael

                        Hi, mc michael

                        I mentioned (and provided menu translations) for three other establishments in the original thread:

                        http://www.chowhound.com/topics/413075

                        I have a few more in the works, including a lengthy piece on Ruen Pair which includes a detailed explanation of why, exactly, all of those Chinese-style dishes can be found on the menu. <smile>

                        But, if you want something else to chew on right now, read my post linked above. Therein, you will find a link to my review of the hyper-authentic Northern Thai offerings at Spicy BBQ Restaurant.

                        Regards,
                        E.M.

                          1. re: mc michael

                            Jitlada Thai was the second meal I had after returning from Chicago, 2 days after I had a lousy meal @ Lotus of Siam (geez, what a sham..)

                            Jazz reports business is up. I also met another foodie couple who've read Chowpatty's post.

                            I have to put in my 2 cents here:
                            The "coco" mango salad has a distinct taste of coconut water. It could be the abundance of peanuts, but I'm pretty sure it's coconut water.

                            The egg-yolk-stuffed fish balls green curry is extremely tasty. And it won't burn you a new discharge hole like the tumeric beef.

                    2. Dang that sounds great. I used to go there ALL the time.

                      Do they have beer?

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Ciao Bob

                        Yes, they have beer and a rudimentary wine list. Now all they need is to lay in some good wine like at Lotus of Siam in Vegas.

                      2. Visited again today for lunch, as I had to try out some of the "wet" curries, and I'll indeed confirm that it was some hot hot stuff, but in very exciting and flavorful way.

                        It's my new favorite Thai restaurant. Sorry, Ruen Pair.

                        My blog post (with pics)
                        http://taste-buzz.com/searing-souther...