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Jitlada Tasting (review w/pics)

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The only Thai I have ever had are several versions of rather Americanized Thai. I have frequented Manora's Thai and Phuket in San Francisco, Lemongrass in Sacramento, and Rambutan, Toi, Chan Dara, TG Express (obsessively for cheap delivery of spicy mint noodles back in my K-Town days) and the now defunkt Suriyo Thai Bistro all in Los Angeles. I have never had Thai this authentic, and I am sure after this posting someone will be telling me somewhere even more authentic to go to, and I will happily do so.

Part of the motivation to go here is the knowledge via Chowhound that this is the best Thai in the city. The fact that Ms. Virbila gave it a great review didn't hurt.

We started with the Black Pepper Drumsticks, a fried turmeric marinated chicken drumstick with green mango salad. This was offered with a little red pepper sauce, pretty mild. The chicken was also sprinkled with roasted sticky garlic. I would definitely eat this again. Crunchy, fried chicken goodness Thai style.

This course was the delectable mild & sour ox-tail soup, Sup Hang Wua. The flavor of lemongrass and lime in this were extremely bright, while the meat was a little sultry as ox-tail can be. I want a whole pot of this to myself.

Above is Phangga jungle curry (pork spare ribs with Thai eggplant in spicy jungle curry), or in something slightly more profane, "OMFGMYMOUTHISONFIRE", and the fire in your mouth and on your lips lasts about 15 minutes. There were various reactions to this dish. D is an ass-kicker and ate everything on his plate and then kvetched for about 30 minutes. Infinite Fress is an ass-kicker, ate his share and wanted more, while wiping the sweat beads from his face with a napkin. Tony's gf/f ate hers, then gulped down her entire Thai iced tea in about 5 minutes, literally shoveling the ice into her mouth with a spoon. I suffered as much as anyone else, but kept a little pile of juice soaked rice on the side of my plate, eating tiny bites and suffering in small doses as the meal continued. I have to admit that I asked Infinite Fress to assess the spiciness of every other dish that crossed our paths that night.

The dish above was one of my favorites. Phat Luuk Taw “Meung Khong, Nakhon Sri Tammart style stir-fried sator beans with shrimp/ground pork/squid. When it reached the table, people started commenting on the fragrance. Not an altogether pleasurable fragrance. Turns out the sator bean is also called a stink bean. A small green bean, sliced in half. At first I avoided eating these because in my mind they were the tips of jalapeno peppers. However, after undergoing some education I decided to give the stink bean a whirl. The sator is a delicious little bean. Tastes like mushroom.

Above is the basil frog leg. Frog legs have a really silky texture. Not like chicken, not like fish, maybe something in between. Really delicious little mounds of meat, these were served with crispy fried basil which is a big love of mine.

We also had a dish with a fish cake stuffed with duck egg. Delicious and exotic. Kaeng tai khai “Mang Kon” – Southern style curry with jicama & house made fish balls stuffed with duck eggs. I love the slightly rubbery fish cake, and I love eggs. This was fun.

Above is soft-shell crab on a mango salad. While this dish was nice, and my palate was ready for the fresh fruitiness of the mango, I really could not discern the flavors of soft-shell crab through the cooking and saucing method. I have eaten a lot of soft shell crab in my life, and it is really a delicate flavor. Having said that, I really enjoyed the dish.

Out comes a palate cleansing soup, Kaeng Jeut plaa meuk yat sai - light flavored soup with minced-chicken-stuffed squid. I don't think I got any meat in my portion, but that was fine. I was really full at this point. I slurped at the delicious broth and enjoyed the al dente cabbage, carrots and green onions.

Next was a dish that really captured my imagination. Not everyone was willing to taste this, and I am here to share that if you passed, you missed out. Kaeng leung “Thalaa” . This is a signature curry dish, with no coconut milk. The key ingredient is fermented bamboo, and boy did this stink. It smelled like sweaty feet in dirty socks. But the flavor was brilliant. Smoky, bitter and juicy with very little heat and some nice catfish chunks. I like.

The last dish I sampled were a few bites of the Narathiwat green curry – steamed rice noodle topped with coconut milk green curry & chicken. This was delicious, the coconut milk gave it a nice creamy sweetness. I just had a couple bites to taste. If Jitlada does food to go, this could be an HG soup for the 3 cold weeks during the cruel LA winter.

review with pics: http://foodshethought.blogspot.com/20...

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