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Jitlada suggestions

I have convinced six Santa Monicans to venture to Jitlada. I would love suggestions on what we could order that would really convince them that there IS a reason to cross the 405. I would imagine that we'll all be sharing so a variety of items would be lovely. Thanks!

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  1. Definitely, definitely get the green mussels!

    1. The last time I was there the owner recommended a fried sage dish that was very good. I can't recall the name but I do not imagine there are too many similar items on the menu.

      1. If you go to the place link and look through some of the reviews you'll get some excellent ideas on dishes to have. Generally you want to concentrate on their Southern menu. But really, you need to consult with Jazz. She will be a great guide, based on what you tell her regarding your taste in Thai food, getting you to the right dishes.

        5233 1/2 W Sunset Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90027

        1. soft shell crab...a number of choices, i liked the red curry....and agree, get the green mussels.
          (with thanks to saucesupreme for the photo)


          1. I popped my Jitlada cherry last week. I ordered the Beef Dry Curry aka the Kua Kling Phat Tha Lung, one of J Gold's recs. Very impressed with this dish. It really is super freaking spicy, even after I ordered it medium spicy. I had to take a few breaks because it got too intense. There's something good about the dish in it's spicy simplicity. After eating it I thought, OK, that was good but I don't think I'd order it again. Though thinking about it now, I would order it again.

            I also went classic Thai and got the Tom Ka soup...really good, great broth, very creamy and great overall flavor. Best I've had in LA.

            1 Reply
            1. re: steiny33

              We always have to get the Khao Yam (rice salad). My wife swears by it and it is all my favorite flavors rolled into one dish.

              Last night I had the Catfish with Wild Tea Leaves. Always wanted to try it and it is very good. Some of the classic Thai dishes are good at Jitlada, but to me it is always about trying a dish I've never had before. Still haven't tried some things like Fish Kidney Curry, but who knows...

            2. I don't know if this is in time - or you have already been there. But here is my 2 cents. I usually go to Jitlada for their special Southern Thai menu. This is on the last page. It is rare to find these dishes in any other Thai restaurants that I normally go to (San Gabriel Valley). However, on one occasion, I had some of their standard non-Southern dishes, and they were excellent as expected. So if you want to choose purely standard dishes, or some combination with Southern, you can't go wrong too much.

              I have saved some earlier discussion from Erik M. who did extensive gustatory expeditions to Jitlada for their Southern Thai menu, and have followed his guidelines to some extent. Here I reproduce it, with some of my personal comments from the last visit.

              Menus in order of spiciness/heat, moving from lowest (Menu 1) to highest (Menu 4); "exotic-ness," moving from least (Menu 1) to most (Menu 4). Each menu set involves one curry, one deep-fried or stir-fried dish, one soup, and one yam, or "salad" type dish. In the Thai manner, all of the dishes are served and eaten together. (These are for 3-4 people each)

              Menu 1 - a. kaeng khiaw-waan khai “Mang-kon”: green curry with egg-yolk-stuffed fish balls; b. kai thawt khii-min : deep-fried turmeric-seasoned chicken (off-menu request); c. "coco mango salad" : shredded coconut and mango salad with cashew nuts; d. tom yam kung : spicy and sour soup with shrimp and straw mushrooms

              Menu 2 - a. phat luuk taw “Meuang Khon” : stir-fried sator beans with shrimp, pork, and squid; b. kaeng plaa duk bai cha-phluu, a spicy, turmeric-seasoned curry with catfish and wild tea leaves ; c. yam som muang "Pak Nang" : Amphoe Pak (Pha)nang-style papaya salad; d. sup hang wua : mild, Southern Thai-style oxtail soup

              On my last visit (Saturday evening Nov 21, 2009) I tried the next one with one eating companion - the food was a bit too much, and I liked 2 of the 4 items very much.

              Menu 3 -
              a. neua phat kii-mao "songkhla" : spicy beef stir-fry with lemongrass - standout dish of the evening
              b. kaeng tay poh plaa chawn haeng : sweet/hot curry with dried mudfish and water spinach (sliced pork is another option) - the mudfish gave it a slightly fishy flavor - next time I will try with sliced pork;
              c. yam plaa duk fuu : fried, shredded catfish salad with chile - the second most outstanding dish - amazing what they did to the catfish;
              d. tom kai baan tom khii-min : turmeric-seasoned soup with chicken and lime leaves - this was flavorful but was extremely spicy hot and after about 1/3 of the way into our individual bowls, we practically had to give up - either I will avoid this dish, or ask it to be toned down next time
              We split a Singha beer (the large bottle), and wrapped up with one order of mango with sticky rice.

              Menu 4 - a. phak bung fai daeng : stir-fried water spinach with dried chile and yellow beans; b. khua kling “Phat Lung” : spicy, tumeric-flavoured "dry" curry with pork or beef; c. yam priaw dawng : pickled crab salad; d. tom khem naw mái luuk taw : salty soup with turmeric, coconut milk, sator beans and shrimp.

              Full Southern menu:
              01. kaeng khĩaw-wãan khài “Mang-kon” : green curry with egg-yolk-stuffed fish balls
              02. kaeng tay poh plaa châwn hâeng : Southern Thai-style curry with dried mudfish and water spinach
              03. kaeng néua khĩi-lèk : spicy curry with beef and pickled cassia buds
              04. kaeng lẽuang kûng yaanãd rẽu lawkaw : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with shrimp and pineapple
              05. kaeng lẽuang “Thaalaa” : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with catfish and pickled bamboo shoots
              06. kaeng lẽuang plaa bawk àw-dìp : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with mullet fish and taro shoots
              07. kaeng kài khĩi-phrâa : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with chicken and bottle gourd
              08. kaeng kài nũn àwn : spicy curry with chicken and young jackfruit
              09. kaeng kòp sôm tháwn : spicy curry with frog legs and santol fruit
              10. kaeng kûng yâwt khãam àwn : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with shrimp and young tamarind shoots
              11. kaeng kûng yaanãd : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with shrimp and pineapple
              12. kaeng kûng wùa thùa : spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with shrimp and jicama
              13. kaeng jèut plaa mèuk yát sài : “bland” soup with minced-chicken-stuffed squid
              14. kaeng plaa dùk bai chá-phluu : a spicy, tumeric-seasoned curry with catfish and wild tea leaves
              15. kaeng pàa plaa dùk lûuk tàw : spicy, tumeric-seasoned “wild” curry with catfish and sator beans (no coconut milk)
              16. kaeng phûung plaa kûng sàp : spicy, fish kidney curry with minced shrimp
              17. kaeng phûung plaa plaa yâang : spicy, fish kidney curry with grilled fish
              18. phàt phèt lûuk tàw puu nìm : spicy stir-fry with sator beans and soft-shelled crab
              19. phàt lûuk tàw “Meuang Khon” : Nakhon Sri Tammarat-style stir-fried sator beans
              20. khûa klíng “Phat Lung” : Phat(tha)lung-style spicy, tumeric-flavoured dry curry with pork or beef
              21. kûng naang òp wún sên : giant shrimp baked in a clay pot with mung bean noodles and peapods
              22. kûng sa-dûng fai : grilled whole shrimp topped with a special dry curry sauce
              23. kài bàan tôm khĩi-mîn : tumeric-seasoned soup with chicken (bone-in) and kaffir lime leaves
              24. sii-khrong mũu krà-thiam phrík thai : deep-fried pork ribs seasoned with garlic and black pepper
              25. tôm khẽm nàw mái lûuk tàw : salty soup with tumeric, coconut milk, sator beans and shrimp
              26. tôm yam kûng naang : sour and spicy soup with giant shrimp
              27. plaa thâwt khĩi-mîn : deep-fried tumeric-seasoned fish
              28. plaa thâwt náam plaa jâo khãwng râek meuang thai : seabass seasoned with fish sauce and deep-fried
              29. plaa thâwt râat phrík : deep-fried fish (seabass, catfish, pompano, or pomfret) “smothered” in sweet chile sauce
              30. plaa thâwt râat phrík sãam rót : deep-fried fish (see above) with “three-flavoured” sauce
              31. plaa bawk tàet dìaw : dried/fried mullet fish (pieces)
              32. plaa bawk tôm náam sôm jaak : sour soup with tumeric, mullet fish and nipa palm vinegar
              33. yam prîaw dâwng : pickled crab salad
              34. yam plaa dùk fuu : fried, shredded catfish salad with chile
              35. yam sôm mûang "Pak Nang" : Amphoe Pak (Pha)nang-style papaya salad
              36. khâo yam “Songkhla” : rice salad in the style of Songkhla province, with assorted vegetables and a sweet sauce (náam budu)
              37. khanõm jiin “Meuang Khon” 5 náam 3 dâng : rice vermicelli with fish balls and your choice of curry sauce
              38. khâo nĩaw sômtam kài yâang lâap náam tòk : sticky rice with papaya salad, grilled chicken, minced meat salad, or “waterfall” meat salad
              39. néua tàet dìaw / néua sũwan : dried/fried beef “jerky”
              40. puu pèn phla : raw blue crab salad with lemongrass, mint and chile

              2 Replies
              1. re: suvro

                This is a wonderful (and very comprensive) list! Thank you! We are going on Thursday so there will definitely be a report on Friday!

                1. re: suvro

                  Here's the link to Erik M.'s original post with photos.

                2. Just two suggestions: make sure you make a reservation, and talk to Jazz for recommendations. The Southern menu has expanded considerably since the original forty items! And there are many wonderful new dishes including the Crispy Morning Glory salad, the pumpkin/dry curry dishes, the sator bean dishes.........but don't forget the original green mussels (regular menu).

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: oldiebutfoodie

                    I agree with you. Their mussele is the best. The other dish that I like is oxtail soup. It is very good and have a lot of favor.

                  2. One other rec: I think this is on the regular (not Southern Thai) menu, but the coco mango salad is very addictive.

                    1. Thanks to everyone who helped with their suggestions! We came armed with all of them printed out and as a result had an amazing dinner. Jazz was so sweet and thankful and gracious as well as funny and helpful. It's wonderful to see an owner who is so passionate about their food and their customers.

                      We had:
                      rice salad (extraordinarly good--I've never had anything like it--citrus tangyness with the earthiness of the rice and veggies. perhaps my favorite thing),
                      green mussels (maybe because we had such high expectations for this dish, it was a little disappointing. But the richness of the broth should be the textbook definition of "umami"),
                      dry beef curry (wow, this one was really spicy and we got it low-med spice. But there was also a really amazing smoky complexity to it too--phenomenal),
                      mango salad (I could probably eat this every day. Really. So light and refreshing and a great counterpoint to the spicy beef. It made me like coconut, which is something that I had abhored before),
                      whole catfish (good and clean tasting with the nice crunch of garlic--and pretty much anything with garlic is good for me!),
                      soft shell crab (can't remember what it was called, but it was deep fried crabs in a reddish sauce. While it was good, compared to the other items we had ordered, it seemed a little "ordinary"),
                      mango and sticky rice (one of my favorite desserts)

                      And that was with just three people. next time we resolve to bring more Westsiders so we can order more food!

                      Unlike many restaurants, Jitlada really lived up to its reputation. From the warm and enthusaistic owner to every dish--fantastic!!

                      1. My favorite is the Clay Pot Seafood dish and the Crispy Catfish Salad... like nothing else out there...


                        1. Since my original posting, I have been back to Jitlada again and again--last Friday it took 90 minutes to get there from Santa Monica. I have considered moving so that I could get the mango coco salad every day, twice a day. Thank you, Chowhounders, for all of your support and suggestions!

                          Last time I was there I tried two new things and suggest that you do too--Salmon Freshy (because of the funny name)--amazingly velvety and beautifully textured and flavored salmon with steamed veggies. If you are going to Jitlada with someone who wants a non-spicy choice, THIS IS IT! The other thing is a special--huge Dungeness crabs in XO sauce--divine!

                          1. Here is what I think is the most important suggestion of all: bring at least 5 friends with you and get a reservation. We went on Saturday, and our party of 9 was seated within 15 minutes of our reservation time. I ran into someone I know who had a party of 3 and waited an hour and a half to be seated!

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: coffeebrownies

                              I may have been in that party of 3. Waiting an hour and a half when hungry was painful. I don't think I will go back for dinner again without a reservation.

                              The salmon with mango was very good but extremely spicy (we asked for medium) for my taste. Yes, we ate it all anyway. I'd order it again but mild.

                              Catfish salad was interesting. The catfish was more like a giant puff.

                            2. Apologies for bumping an old thread but I wanted to make a note, one in which NOBODY cared to point out.

                              Jitlada is expensive as hell. Items are in the $10-$40 range, and I saw a few items climbing even higher. They have a surprise meal for 2 that's a whopping $100. Thai iced tea was $4, soft drinks $3.50 no refill!!!

                              Some "standards" which I'm used to paying $5-8 for are $10-$13 here.

                              I'm sure as hell not paying for the decor - it's Feb 21 and Christmas lights are still up. We figured they just have the lights up all year long...

                              I'm not saying that the food isn't worth it, just be prepared to spend some cash. Our party of 5 went for lunch, ate light, and probably spent close to $100 bucks after tax/tip.

                              10 Replies
                              1. re: ns1

                                You are correct. Tui instituted a new menu around the holidays. The food is still wonderful and he's added some interesting dishes....but it is expensive! We were there for lunch today as well. We are much more careful with our menu choices! So be forewarned!

                                1. re: ns1

                                  My friend and I are huge eaters, and I don't think we've ever spent more than $30/person there. Jitlada is definitely not cheap, but calling it "expensive as hell" is, IMO, pretty misleading (unless the new menu mentioned by oldiebutfoodie has substantially bumped up the prices since last yr), esp given the other restaurants mentioned w/ regularity on the board.

                                  1. re: ilysla

                                    60 bucks for 2 on thai food IS expensive as hell.

                                    $4 for an iced tea. $3.50 for a coke, NO REFILLS.

                                    That's a 100% markup compared to other thai restaurants when there is NO reason for a 100% markup.

                                    If you look at the 2013 reviews of Jitlada from Yelp, I'm not the only one who is bitching about prices. And reading through the reviews, it seems like the latest price hike was very significant.

                                    I found a site with an old Jitlada menu:

                                    The prices I observed yesterday were approximately 50% higher across the board

                                    1. re: ns1

                                      Your comments seem to rest on the assumption that Thai food should be cheaper than other types of food? I can't comment on the recent price hikes, but can you name another Thai restaurant that offers similar food (in terms of breadth and quality) to Jitlada at a lower price point? If you can, I'm happy to try them and to stop going to Jitlada since the indifferent and glacially slow service (which I think it more of an issue than the price) is a relative turn off....

                                      Jitlada has a superior product. They're quite aware of this and charge accordingly. And the market tolerates it (for now). ::shrug::

                                      1. re: ilysla

                                        1) I would encourage you to take a look at their current prices and compare it to the grubstreet menu I posted above.

                                        2) There is no comparison for southern thai food, but I've been to dozens of thai restaurants in SoCal and I have never ever seen prices this high. Lots of HQ thai food in thai town that's cheap as balls.

                                        3) The market won't tolerate it for long. See yelp 2013.

                                        I mean I enjoyed my meal, but I probably won't go back because I'd end up spending $50+ pp. And at $50pp I expect a lot more than christmas lights in February.

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          The menu you posted is from circa 2008. It has changed several times since then. The cuisine is different from other Thai restaurants. Not too many specializing in Southern or with Tui's talent. I would hope they have not priced themselves out of business because we find the food wonderful and unique.

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            ns1, i think i usually agree with you on prices if i'm not mistaken but yes compared to other thai restaurants it is more expensive. but in my opinion, jitlada is still the best thai in town and i mean only the best when i ordered of the special Southern thai menu that listed hundreds of different dishes in a different font at the back of the menu.

                                            if it's 10.95 for pad thai at jitlada while it would be 6.95 at a decent thai joint, then yes that is expensive, but i'd never order the regular thai dishes at jitlada.

                                            someone above mentioned Dungeness Crabs in XO Sauce, man that sounds fucking good and I've never seen it on the menu, but i would think that that dish alone would cost 50 bucks if not more, but i would expect it.

                                            i would say for the quality, and the ingredients, i.e. their great seafood, Jitlada is way above the rest of the crop of thai restaurants, but stil Jitlada is too expenisve too me but worth it. (if you couldn't already tell i think everything in LA is too expenive, including a great patty melt, soda, and a slice of chocolate cake at Pann's which will run you over 24 bucks with tip, but it's still really fucking good).

                                        2. re: ns1

                                          unless by 60 bucks for two, you mean including soft shell crabs or frog legs, or the whole catfish, then it isn't bad, because then it would be the same price, or a couple bucks more than a regular thai restaurant. so basically i'm saying you won't sea the seafood you see here at a regular thai restaurant most likely.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            Clearly I don't roll like some of you ballers. I go to RCA with the GF and we spend $30 after tax/tip. I go to Hoy Ka and spend $25 after tax/tip.

                                            At least the prices are out in public now, so people can make an informed decision. I sure as fuck wish somebody brought this to my attention 4 days ago.

                                            1. re: ns1

                                              Hey, Watch your language young man !!!!

                                              But anyhow, what did you order at Jitlada ?

                                              If you had the soft shell crabs, and it cost rougly 15 bucks, maybe even 16 bucks, then it's kind of the going rate.

                                              But if you did get say like pad kee mao for 10.95, and your usual spot is even up to 7.95, then yeah it is expensive. regardless, it's still expensive to me, but yet at the same time, i feel like i'm getting unique dishes that i can't get anywhere else, the closest being Lotus of Siam in Vegas, maybe, but that joint might even be more expensive.

                                              But if you did walk in off the street, never hearing anything good or bad about the joint, it looks like an ordinardy, garden variety thai spot. but the cooking, chef inspired dishes, etc, belie the look of the joint.