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Jitlada: Downhill alert?

  • n

so I'm scanning yelp right, and actually turned off yelp sort and instead listed ratings by date.

First page is about 40 reviews, and amazingly only 12 were 4/5* reviews.

My first visit there was less than stellar, and I've seen many reviews sharing the same story: overpriced, overrated.

My group had scheduled a lunch trip to Jitlada tomorrow, but I can't help but feel they would be better served by Ruen Pair or Hoyka down the street...

what say you, hounds?

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  1. i say you should still go if you are targeting seafood dishes.

    but if not, i guess you can go to the others.

    i still liked it though. though i wasn't blown away, and the prices did put a damper on things.

    1. After a few visits, I found the southern Thai dishes interesting and unique but found myself heading over to Ruen Pair and Sapp at least 3-4:1 vs Jitlada. My Thai needs are pretty simple like that.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Porthos

        same here.. except that for me it's Ruen Pair & Pa Ord. service was so slow on our last visit to Jitlada that we pretty much took them out of our rotation. and whatever we ate on that visit was pretty bad so the whole experience turned us off.

        1. re: Porthos

          What do you get at Ruen Pair out of curiosity?

          As terrible as it is, I seem to order the salty turnip, pang curry, and pork jerky more often than not. Also, the fried egg salad.

          But I know I should be branching out more.

        2. Jitlada had been a favorite but I took it out of rotation after two unsuccessful dining experiences...food was less than mediocre and service was poor. Have not found a replacement yet but plan to visit Ruen Pair when the opportunity presents.


            Best restaurant in Thai Town that takes credit cards?!

            I'm thinking RCA? Bringing 7 coworkers.

            4 Replies
            1. re: ns1

              I don't think many of them do. The ones who do come to mind are Ocha and Thai Palms.

              1. re: ns1

                My rec goes to Krua Siri. Their menu is like a minefield, but the back page is mostly gold

                1. re: ns1

                  Prael - might be the most underrated resto in Thai Town

                  1. re: Eater15

                    I've heard literally zero about this place. What do you recommend?

                    Anything to avoid?

                2. fuck it, I didn't pick the place and these pictures look amazing, so Jitlada it is. I'll report back.


                  Maybe 2nd time is the charm.

                  1 Reply
                  1. Jitlada isn't for everyone, and it's not even for me everytime I want Thai -- southern, or otherwise.

                    You have to be able to appreciate it for what it is, and it is really really (and I mean really) helpful, if not essential, to bring someone who knows the ins-and-outs of Thai.

                    But if there are people who think that Chinese restaurants hide the good stuff from gringos, or "dumb down" their dishes for gringos, then Jitlada takes it to an artform.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: ipsedixit

                      The first time this gringo tried one of their dry curry dishes (I think it was the fish kidneys), I ended up half-wishing they would have "dumbed it down" a bit ... it tasted like someone was standing on my chest and punching me in the face. The only thing of comparable heat I've had served to me in L.A. was the taco toreado at Guisados.

                      But you're right in general - it's still worth a visit if you're with a few knowledgeable friends and want to sample the special southern Thai menu. If you just want a pad thai, curry, and Singha for yourself, then you'd be far better off (and less poor) going elsewhere.

                      1. re: Bradbury

                        before i went to jitlada, i never knew that my nose could produce mucus in such great quantities.

                        1. re: raizans

                          Interestingly, your nose does not produce more mucous, all of it is already there, it's just that the spices irritate the mucosal canals, and let it all flow at once!

                    2. Ok so we had the following this time:

                      - Coco mango salad
                      - Fresh papaya salad
                      - crying tiger beef
                      - steamed mussels
                      - pineapple fried rice
                      - pad thai
                      - chicken satay

                      I will say everything was tasty enough, if you don't factor in the price. Once you factor in the price, it's a harder pill to swallow. Nothing was legendary/mind blowing, not even the papaya salad/coco mango salad. Maybe it didn't have that "new" feeling that it had the first time.

                      $6 for a small singha and $3 soft drink no refills is absurd.

                      28 Replies
                      1. re: ns1

                        Though some of the dishes you ordered, no offense, are somewhat boring.

                        Maybe if you tried the frog legs, soft shell crabs, egg-yolk stuffed fish balls, turmeric-fried whole sea bass, you would get more of the goods.

                        btw, did you notice the iced coffee for about 7 bucks, if not more, that's insane. i had to ask if there was alcohol in there at that price.

                        1. re: kevin

                          I wasn't with an eating party, I was with a group of non-foodie co-workers. The last 3 are boring, yes, but the first 4 are heavily mentioned Jitlada dishes. Those "goods" that you mentioned ran upwards of $45. For a lunch that's also absurd.

                          I noticed the $4 thai iced tea and $12 for large Singha. Outrageous.

                          1. re: ns1

                            They're milking their reputation and the reviews they've received from the likes of Jonathan Gold. The prices are high, the portions are small. Still, you can't fault their quality. I know someone affiliated with Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas who likes the food at Jitlada...

                            1. re: TripleAxel

                              No, I faulted it down below. There was absolutely not $14 worth of quality in that pad thai. There wasn't $12 worth of quality in the crying tiger beef either.

                              "I know someone affiliated with Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas who likes the food at Jitlada..."

                              If there were ever a restaurant more overrated than Jitlada...

                              1. re: ns1

                                Not to pile it on but you can't go to Jilada and order Pad Thai. It's not best Thai period. It's best Southern Thai. You have to order from the back of the menu. And this is coming from someone that isn't all aboard the Jitlada wagon.

                                For example, I love Thai Nankorn down here in OC. Food is excellent. Pad Thai sucks. Doesn't mean the restaurant isn't still excellent Thai.

                                You can't Favori by their pho right? ;-)

                                1. re: Porthos

                                  I didn't order it.

                                  it wouldn't be a bad pad thai...if it were $8.

                                  BTW, I grew up on thai nakorn pad thai, so stop hatin ;)

                                  1. re: ns1

                                    Love Thai Nankorn. There are so many other dishes I'd recommend over their pad thai: green papaya salad +/- crab, chicken yellow curry, piguaut beef curry (they try to talk me out of this every time but ignore them, it's delicious), BBQ chicken, stuffed fried chicken wing, shrimp fried rice, wild boar in spicy sauce, Chinese water grass (sic) with bean sauce, fried pomfret...not to mention a bunch of other dishes that sound really good but I haven't had a chance to try because I get caught up in the aforementioned: stuffed squid, Thai beef salad, fried halibut in curry...

                                    Not much room for pad Thai there ;-)

                                    1. re: Porthos

                                      Thai Nakorn was literally my intro to Thai food. I would drive from Santa Ana to Stanton (OG stanton location) 2-3x a week just to get my pad thai fix

                                      My culinary intelligence has grown substantially since; I think I've only eaten 1 pad thai dish in the past 5 years.

                                      1. re: ns1

                                        Don't get me wrong, I still love a good pad thai. But like you said, there is just so much more to Thai cuisine than just pad thai.

                                2. re: ns1

                                  Lotus of Siam in L.V. is definitely better than Jitlada. Their prices are not cheap, either..But nothing is inexpensive in L.V.
                                  I have never, had a mediocre dish there Unfortunately, I don't go to L.V. very often.

                                  1. re: cujo

                                    >> Their prices are not cheap, either..But nothing is inexpensive in L.V.

                                    That's not true. While they're not LA Thai Town cheap, LOS prices are quite reasonable compared with other offerings on/near the Strip. The northern specialty dishes all run about $9-$10 and the portions are generous.


                                    And there's very inexpensive, delicious food on the other side of the freeway in LV's small Chinatown. The gua bao at "Yi Mei Champion Deli" were huge and spectacular and about $2.

                                    Mr Taster

                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                      Thanks for the info. I will keep it in mind for my next trip to Las Vegas.

                            2. re: kevin

                              I found that soft shelled crab dish everyone raves about to be really heavy and greasy. Not a fan. Those southern dishes with sator beans etc, pretty good.

                            3. re: ns1

                              My meal of two dishes: soft shell crab with sator beans and egg noodles and fried snapper filets with mango sauce with a coke and the iced coffee drink plus tax and tip was a hair under 70 bucks.

                              But it certainly didn't have the chefly prep, creativity, deliciousness, and uniquenss of a 70 meal.

                              1. re: ns1

                                Go to Emporium Thai for dinner for a quick compare? ;-)

                                1. re: PeterCC

                                  I'm definitely going to hit up Emporium soon to compare.

                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                    Emporium is very good and to the best of my recollection, the prices are similar to Jitlada However, if you live on the westside, it's a lot more convenient. Also, I never see it crowded.

                                    1. re: cujo

                                      For some reason I thought it was cheaper. But I've been to neither.

                                      1. re: PeterCC

                                        The Southern Thai dishes at Emporium aren't very cheap...

                                        1. re: chrishei

                                          25 whole turmeric fish as opposed to 30 to 35 for the same fish at jitlada would be cheaper than jjitalda.

                                          musels at emporium are 15 bucks. same thing at jitlada is 20 bucks. by same, i mean it's supposed to be the same dish.

                                          1. re: kevin

                                            Jitlada must have recently increased their price for steamed mussels. I guess we can expect Emporium will follow their lead.

                                        2. re: PeterCC

                                          The steamed mussels and mango sticky rice are the same price. And the portions are now smaller than they used to be.

                                          1. re: cujo

                                            I have to say that when I read this review http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/901978 of a special group meal at Emporium, and then found out it came out to $30 per person, I can't think of Emporium as expensive in any way.

                                            1. re: Servorg

                                              Based on Thor's report, I would have to agree with you.
                                              Based on my personal experience, I have to disagree.
                                              I hope Thor will share his negotiation skills with us. I want that same menu. I'm even willing to pay $40.

                                          2. re: PeterCC

                                            emporium is cheaper and it's westwood which i thought would garner higher rents than Jitlada's stretch of East hollywood.

                                            1. re: kevin

                                              Check the menu prices for both restaurants and the same items.

                                              1. re: cujo

                                                i did.

                                                and it was on those big ticket dishes.

                                                1. re: kevin

                                                  I responded before I read your post comparing the prices for steamed mussels. Sorry.

                                    2. Selected prices, June 2013.

                                      7 Replies
                                      1. re: ns1

                                        Of note:

                                        Pad See Ew, $14
                                        Pad Thai $14
                                        Boba thai iced tea/coffee $7
                                        Soda $3 no refills

                                        outrageous and inexcusable, ESPECIALLY given the environment.

                                        1. re: ns1

                                          but hey, they are not hurting for customers. (it kind of reminds me of the pricing at the apple pan transposed to burgers of course).

                                          1. re: ns1

                                            Wow. I support charging what the food is worth, but $3 for a no-refill soda drink is obscene. I'm also willing to excuse a down-market interior, but I don't think they're going to get away w/ charging these prices for very long w/ the indifferent service.... Too bad. Oh, well, gives me a reason to explore other places....

                                            1. re: ilysla

                                              There was NO WAY IN HELL the pad thai we received was worth $14, either in portion size or quality.

                                            2. re: ns1

                                              We go there just to order their specialty dishes on the last 2 pages of the menu(?). We avoided the more common dishes, which can be ordered from other places nearby for about 1/3 to 1/2 the price...

                                              1. re: TripleAxel

                                                Yeah we didn't feel like spending 30pp for lunch.

                                            3. re: ns1

                                              Look at the last coffee drink under Beverages, it says $8 for the iced coffee drink.

                                              Wow, and you didn't even get to the pages at the back. where some of the lobster and crab dishes are 49.95, no joke.

                                              i guess at these prices i'd just rather eat at Sea Harbour.

                                            4. Everyone else already mentioned the price, but that's what did me in with Jitlada as far back as 3 years ago. Other northern style places started popping up, and while I still crave the mango salad (always fantastic) and steamed mussels (favorite version in any restaurant, thai or otherwise), I've simply moved on to other places that I think cook just as well at a fraction of the cost.

                                              1. You know what ?

                                                I have to take my sentiments back somewhat.

                                                Because I don't believe I can obtain the fried frog legs, wide variety of soft shell crab dishes, sator bean encrusted dishes, peppery blue crabs, mango coconut salad, turmeric spiced fish at other thai restaurants.

                                                The closest to this type of Thai cooking would be at Lotus in LV.

                                                  1. re: PeterCC

                                                    yeah I saw that yesterday and lol'd.

                                                  2. Just went to Jitlada in December and like most yelp reviewers, i don't feel compelled to write unless it was horrible or fantastic. This experience was horrible. I had the fish balls stuffed with egg yolk. It came in a green curry sauce that was decent, but not better than what I can make with a good curry paste and coconut milk. My boyfriend TRIED to order the frogs legs, but they came back to us nearly 40 minutes after everyone ordered their food to tell him they were out at the kitchen. I tried my friend's fish curry, which had a nasty stinky smell of meat that wasn't fresh. I even tried their extreme spice lamb, (the one with the warning) and I can't imagine it being a pleasant experience for anyone. The spice was bitter, painful, black and tasted like ash. I was astonished to read all the great reviews. It's truly their greatest accomplishment.

                                                    6 Replies
                                                    1. re: Eaterlover

                                                      "fish curry, which had a nasty stinky smell of meat"

                                                      perhaps the fish curry is s'pose to smell that way, especially if it had pla ra (which it probably did), or fermented fish kidney.

                                                      perhaps order a dish without a disclaimer?

                                                      perhaps chalk up the meal to user error; avec this is not. sticky rice this is not, TAC quick this is not.

                                                      1. re: TonyC

                                                        You know, a lot of the dishes I get at Chengdu Taste have this weird tingly numb thing happening. They're clearly fucking something up.

                                                        Honestly, I can't defend Jitlada anymore. It's so special and people just don't get it.

                                                        No one is doing what Jitlada is doing. Not even Night + Market, which I love.

                                                        I don't really get the comparisons between the two restaurants. Apples and oranges with room for both.

                                                        1. re: cacio e pepe

                                                          "You know, a lot of the dishes I get at Chengdu Taste have this weird tingly numb thing happening. They're clearly fucking something up."


                                                          1. re: chrishei

                                                            If they could only fix that weird tingly deal they could finally change the name of the place to something more reflective of it's cuisine.

                                                      2. re: Eaterlover

                                                        I liked Jitlada when I went last week for the first time. The only real downsides are how busy they get and (for some) their prices. We got mostly seafood (including the green curry fish balls w/ egg yolk), and I can say that the restaurant sources better ingredients than the other Thai restaurants in town.

                                                        1. re: Eaterlover

                                                          I really like jitlada for some reason.

                                                          yeah, the prices do get outlandish at times.

                                                          But the variety and quality of the seafood is pretty fucking good.

                                                          And why not have some living wages at play.

                                                        2. "overpriced, overrated."

                                                          Best two-word summation of Jitlada I've read. I have a lengthy yelp review about it.

                                                          I never go back anymore. I much prefer my late night thai at Ruen Pair, early noodles at Sapp, or sometimes the pad-se-ewe at Sanam Luang.

                                                          Otherwise, might as well go to Night + Market.

                                                          Don't see any reason to really go to Jitlada, and I've had most of the specialty southern thai dishes. They're just mostly pointless to me.

                                                          Night + Market does the only one I liked a lot (the khua kling beef) much better. But I guess if you love disgustingly spicy "gravy" with fish kidneys in it Jitlada could still be a kind of wonderland for you.

                                                          4 Replies
                                                          1. re: BacoMan

                                                            I am as big of a Night + Market defender as anyone here, but those 2 words are associated w/ the restaurant almost as much as w/ Jitlada. You really just have to have different expectations, because all Thai restaurants are not created equal.

                                                            Also, it's interesting how N+M is used as a standard for kua kling, because it's a southern Thai dish. But I'm no Thai expert.

                                                            1. re: chrishei

                                                              How is Night + Market overpriced?

                                                              Overrated maybe, but it's more a result of too many people gushing a bit too profusely, as opposed to it actually being awful.

                                                              My only complaint at N + M has been the temperature of the food coming out sometimes and the lack of serious spiciness. But the flavors are usually the cleanest out of all the thai places in LA. You seem to get stuff you just don't get anywhere else. N + M also has better service it seems like to me, plus more interesting alcohol if you want it.

                                                              Also, N + M is in West Hollywood, on one of the most expensive stretches of real estate in all of LA. So their higher prices make sense. Jitlada is crammed into the same shitty Thai Town as the rest of the awesome Thai eateries, so you know the fact that prices are almost double there (for sure relative to portion sizing) is just a blatant rip off based on their brand name and has relatively little to do with making the food better, or delving more value to the customers beyond, "We're Jitlada, we're the best-reviewed Thai restaurant in LA!" for fucks sake, their wall paper is just reviews of the place, which is the tackiest thing I think I have ever seen in an LA restaurant.

                                                              I don't know what people want out of Jitlada. Insanely spicy dishes they can just barely get down that cost 2x as much as what is available literally down the block?

                                                              I don't know. I've never had a good time there. But I guess someone must be.

                                                            2. re: BacoMan

                                                              I've had most of the specialty southern thai dishes. They're just mostly pointless to me.
                                                              Cool! Most of the specialy Southern Thai dishes? I believe that's 143 dishes (based on the old menu on hand). You've had more than 71? I wish I can go as often just to be able to say they're pointless.

                                                              You know what's really pointless? Wine with expensive Thai food.

                                                              1. re: TonyC

                                                                "You've had more than 71? I wish I can go as often just to be able to say they're pointless."

                                                                It's not something of which I am happy, nor proud hah

                                                            3. It's been about 8 months since I originally posted this and I did in fact go to a follow-up dinner with a group of hounds. While the meal was enjoyable, I would say that I probably won't return unless I was with a Jitlada VIP ^_^

                                                              Even with said Jitlada VIP, service was spotty (at best) and relatively expensive. Agree that food is authentic tasting, varied, for the most part delicious, and cannot generally be found elsewhere.

                                                              But at the end of the day, for taste/$$$, my money will be spent elsewhere.

                                                              Since this posting, I've also gone to Renu Nakorn and was less than impressed. Not sure what happened there...

                                                              3 Replies
                                                              1. re: ns1

                                                                RN has sucked for a long, long time.

                                                                I think you summed up why I like Jitlada: delicious (for the most part) and not stuff you can find elsewhere. I crave it sometimes and have to just suck it up and pay for it.

                                                                BTW I always do take out. If you want to sit down at a Thai place, do go elsewhere, unless you're a total masochist. Or you could always call your order in early for a sit down meal. I just think it's weird that for at least a decade so many people have (rightfully) complained about the service, yet people still dine in there and seem surprised by it.

                                                                1. re: Eater15

                                                                  The simplicity of the solution to the Jitlada service 'issue' is almost genius.

                                                                  I'd like to think of it as the doppelganger to the Chengdu Taste solution.

                                                                  The Southern style pumpkin lamb (which is even btter than the kua kling *** IMO, and not duplicated elsewhere) travels well, unlike say, a Mother Dough pizza.

                                                                  1. re: TonyC

                                                                    "The simplicity of the solution to the Jitlada service 'issue' is almost genius."

                                                                    the same solution for restaurants in little saigon? serve yourself? lol

                                                              2. How come Baco ????

                                                                Your sentiments about Jitlada apply to me in the same way that Baco Merkat applies to you, (no offense intended), just my humblest of opinions.

                                                                5 Replies
                                                                1. re: kevin

                                                                  I have no idea what you're replying to.

                                                                  If you tell me where I can get Bäco's, saffron-honey chicken, baby beat and sumac lebni salad, fried quail, and awesome craft beers for half the price of Bäco Mercat that tastes even better (as I can with everything at Jitlada, at other thai places for the most part), then I may change my mind about it.

                                                                  Until someone does that, I don't even know what you're comparing Bäco to, as no where else does anything like it.

                                                                  1. re: BacoMan

                                                                    Hey BacoMan,

                                                                    I always assumed your handle references bacon (as in the food...not the actor!) But now I see it might reference Baco Mercat. Which one is it?

                                                                    Mr Taster

                                                                    1. re: Mr Taster

                                                                      It is a reference to Bäco Mercat. One of my favorite restaurants in LA (or anywhere).

                                                                      I am acquaintances with 2 of the servers, but don't dine only when they are there, and have no formal connections to the place other than loving their food.

                                                                      Is that a problem?

                                                                  2. re: kevin

                                                                    My apologies Baco Man,

                                                                    I meant in a nutshell, why don't you like Jitlada at all ????

                                                                    Please explain.


                                                                    1. re: kevin

                                                                      Re-read the posts I've already made. Tell me what you think is left out.

                                                                  3. I went there recently and while their flavors are still out of this world and unique, the quality of their meat was not nearly what I remembered.

                                                                    There are still some serious gems on the menu though, obviously it takes some digging through though.

                                                                    1. Has anyone tried this place? Don't know how new it is, but that som tum sounds really tempting.....


                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                      1. re: Dirtywextraolives

                                                                        I got that TT email blurb. But i haven't read it yet.

                                                                        1. re: kevin

                                                                          thanks for the insightful post.

                                                                      2. I had a fantastic meal at Jitlada tonight. Expensive for thai? Very. Ambitious cooking and great flavors hard to fine elsewhere? For sure.

                                                                        What we ate: The rice salad, soft shell crab with pumpkin, spicy mint noodles with prawns, mussels in green curry, rice for two, and two beers. After tax and tip, $45 per person and we were stuffed.

                                                                        The highlights were the rice salad and the mussels, which are Jitlada staples. I have to say though, these were the best spicy mint noodles I've had. They really lit me up in terms of spice, but the spice didn't kill the pleasant, smooth mint flavor pervading the dish. The lamb was the weakest item but still quite good.

                                                                        I know we're always looking for the next great thai place, but I still think Jitlada kicks ass.

                                                                        4 Replies
                                                                        1. re: Haeldaur

                                                                          The catfish papaya salad is genius

                                                                          1. re: jessejames

                                                                            So is their black pepper and garlic crab.

                                                                            And their fried snapper filets with mango sauce.

                                                                            And of course the pumpkin soft shell crab.

                                                                            To name a few.

                                                                            Oh. And they serve the most perfectly ripe mangoes around.

                                                                            Damn. I wanna go
                                                                            Their now.

                                                                            1. re: kevin

                                                                              I'll have to try those. I love it there too. I also like that dry chile beef at the end of the menu that's superspicy and comes with the raw cabbage wedges and cukes for cooling down.

                                                                              Completely agree about the quality of the mangos.

                                                                              1. re: kevin

                                                                                The pumpkin soft shell crab is one of my fav dishes anywhere. =)

                                                                                Are the friend snapper filets the one flash fried thai basil? Also fantastic.

                                                                                Like a few others on this thread, the indifferent (and, at times, frankly bad) service, along w/ geographic distance (for me) are sufficient barriers that I won't be going often. But I certainly appreciate it for what it is.