Jitlada Thai Restaurant - Perceptor's Report
Jitlada has been getting alot of buzz.. especially since Jonathon Gold's article on it... so i finally made it out to Jitlada to check it out.. first off, owner Jazz is the face/personality of this place... she is a gracious host for sure.. aside from the usual Thai fare that hundred of other thai restaurants in LA serves, they have a 60+ southern thai menu that showcases dishes that no where else has in LA.. their mussels in the lemongrass/garlic/chili broth is damn good.. rice salad is refreshing... dry curry beef is STRONG on flavor... Jitlada is definitely a great thai restaurant that breaks from the norm of typical LA thai food. The 1 thing I did notice though was the clientale in the restaurant.. there were no thai people there at all when i was there... so is this place for non thai taste buds only? i wanna hear your opinion on Jitlada...
Here is my experience:
Jitlada Thai restaurant
5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027
Here's my own report on Jitlada: http://gourmetpigs.blogspot.com/2008/...
You're right I didn't notice many Thai ppl there, maybe a couple ... they were pretty busy but not super packed.
I've been hearing so much about Jitlada, a Thai restaurant on Sunset. It's a bit far (waa~y past the Sunset Strip), so I haven't been. But we've recently made the drive to try it out.
Jitlada sits in a small strip mall (like many, many other good restaurants in LA ... what is it with strip malls in LA ..) that, most definitely, lacks parking spaces. We drove around but couldn't find parking or street parking, so we ended up parking across the street at the 99c Store (I think that's what it was). Psst ... don't tell please ...
We ordered a pad thai - standard and safe.The pad thai is pretty good and I thought it was definitely one of the better ones in LA. Not much for me to say here though, it's really pretty standard? And I've been getting bored of this sweet dish. Moving on to the more interesting items! :)
I've been hearing a lot about the catfish and green mango salad, so I got that also.
I've read the reviews so I've been expecting this. The fried catfish is, well, really looks nothing like a catfish! It looks like fried flakes ... only when you eat it does it taste fishy, although the texture is again not really what you would expect out of a 'catfish'.
The crispy-but-slightly-soggy flakes, the sourness of the green mango, and the flavorful crunchiness of the peanuts make this dish great. The first bites were a bit of a surprise regardless and seems weird, but it really grew on me. By lunchtime the next day (leftovers) I was chowing this down and craving more ...
Lastly, we ordered what Jonathan Gold proclaimed as one of the "Best Dishes of 2007", the New Zealand Green Mussels! (How can you not try it??)
What came were possibly the biggest mussels I've ever seen:
I mean, usually, the meat of the mussels occupy only 1/3 of the space the shells provide, but these mussels .... these fat, juicy mussels, fill up the shells like they're pregnant!
The slightly spicy broth were excellent but not overpowering. Just right.
Jitlada is definitely a great Thai restaurant. I do wish it was a bit closer to me so I can go more often! I'd definitely be back whenever I can find someone to drag all the way over here for Thai food ... (not like it's close to anything else either :/ )
Those mussels are definitely, definitely, worth the trip over and over again ...
I've now been to Jitlada a dozen or so times and have always loved it. I used to live in Asia and have spent a great deal of time in Thailand - in all parts of the country - and I think Jitlada's food is some of the most authentic Thai food to be had in Los Angeles. I have only ever ordered from the Southern Thai menu, so I don't know anything about their more standard fare.
From the Southern Thai menu, the real standouts have been:
The fried catfish and green mango salad. A marvel of textures and flavors. Somehow very refreshing in spite of all the fried catfish (I think of it as catfish floss) on top.
The mussels are the best I've had anywhere in the city, of any style. Fresh, big, incredibly flavorful. The broth they come in is fantastic - and is also excellent spooned onto rice - and the vinegary, garlicky sauce they're served with is also incredible.
The turmeric and garlic fried chicken or whole fish is also wonderful. Both are moist, juicy, crunchy with a ton of garlic - sometimes a little too salty though.
The dry curry - which I usually have with pork rather than beef - is the only dish I have ever encountered that seems to develop more, and more complex, flavors the spicier it is. You need to beg and plead with Jazz to make it Thai style - as spicy as they would make it for themselves - and sometimes that works and sometimes the cooks don't believe you. But even people I've taken there who don't have a high tolerance for spicy food have marveled at how the flavor of the dish seems to improve in direct proportion to how painful it is to eat it. It is truly worth the tears and burning. This is one of my favorite dishes anywhere.
I've also had the whole steamed lemon fish which I've liked okay, but somehow it always seems a little dry to me - although the sauce it is cooked with is delicious.
The famous rice salad is beautiful and many of the people I've been with have loved it, but I find it a bit too sweet for my taste.
For dessert they make an excellent sweet sticky rice and mango. And their Thai ice coffee is among the best I've had.
When I first started going, about five or so months ago, there tended to be more Thai people in the restaurant than non-Thais. Now that does seem to have changed. Perhaps it is due to the publicity Jitlada has received in the non-Thai press: L.A. Weekly, L.A. Times, Gourmet magazine, etc. But, so far at least I haven't noticed any change in the quality of the food.
I don't see any problem -- Thai restaurants are usually welcoming of babies, I think they have a high chair but you might want to call. My son spent many an evening pushing steamed rice around his high chair tray at Torung, I don't think Jitlada would be any different. The only consideration is that since the food is of a higher caliber than most Thai restaurants, it's fun to go with a group and order lots of dishes and prolong the meal a bit, which would be harder with a baby.
I love this place soooo much! I've seen plenty of Thais and non-Thais eating here. And even a couple of babies, though I don't recall whether or not they were in high chairs. I had something new here recently from the Southern Thai menu (it was new for me!) -- a lamb curry with basil leaves that was scrumptious. There were even some lamb haters at the table who tried it and loved it!
Sri Siam has atypical items on their menu and a long list of interesting items on their Thai language menu on the wall. My favorite is Whole Fish With Chilis and Herbs ordered Thai spicy/hot, expensive at $19.95 but so good! Most items are much lower in price, $6-$9.
Sri Siam Cafe
12843 Vanowen St, North Hollywood, CA 91605
Sure, but not so much in West L.A. or the South Bay (which is where I see you are from your profile.) Renu Nakorn and Thai Nakorn, North Hollywood and Northridge area places like Swan Thai and Sri Siam. There's more in Hollywood's Thai town, but you'll have to wade through the marathon postings of ErikM to find out about them. :)
12728 Sherman Way, North Hollywood, CA 91605
11951 Beach Blvd, Stanton, CA 90680
Renu Nakorn Restaurant
13019 Rosecrans Ave, Norwalk, CA 90650
Sri Siam Cafe
12843 Vanowen St, North Hollywood, CA 91605
Lum-ka-naad Thai Restaurant
8920 Reseda Blvd, Northridge, CA 91324