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LOS - What Star Level do you order and why

i
ioioioioio Aug 21, 2013 01:21 AM

When I first visited LOS 10 years ago I found myself sweating and crying at 4 stars out of ten. Mind you I still ate everything, but it burned me up. I backed off to three stars and that seemed fine.

But my last five visits, going back to November, 2012, the heat has been missing almost completely at four stars, even for food I had eaten in previous years. One of these was a "swamped" time but the others were times when they weren't completely full.

Have they "americanized" the heat level, so that five or six stars is needed to equate to back-in-the-day 3-4 stars?

Is this toning down or inconsistency due to expanded size and increased cooking staff (with perhaps less supervision in kitchen)?

What stars do you order (where in general is your heat tolerance outside LOS?) and have you had consistent results over the years?

  1. k
    kagemusha49 Aug 21, 2013 01:24 PM

    I now order 10 stars. I think most of this is that I have become acclimated to spicier food and a little part is that the ratings have become diluted. It's not a macho thing with me - I just generally prefer the flavors that way for any food that is meant to be spicy.

    1. d
      Dave Feldman Aug 21, 2013 08:18 PM

      When I'm ordering for my own taste, I usually ask for a 9, but I have tried zero (yes, not one chili pepper) to 10. If there has been a trend over the past 15 years, it has probably been to the food at whatever spice level being slightly less hot, but I'm guessing that the main reason is that you have become acclimated to spicier food.

      It isn't a science by any means.

      I once arranged a banquet for 16 folks where there were four samples of each dish, each at a different spice level. I experimented and tried all four of a couple of the entrees, and the differences were easily discernible.

      One other point. Don't be afraid to return a dish at LOS if it doesn't satisfy you. In Thai cooking, the chilies are the last thing thrown into a dish, so it's not like anyone is stuck with a mother sauce that can't be easily modified.

      1 Reply
      1. re: Dave Feldman
        g
        GourmetWednesday Aug 22, 2013 08:35 PM

        We went with a 7 and found it perfect, at the upper end of my comfort zone, pushing me just close enough in the edge to keep my attention. For a comparison, I tend to like things spicier than many of my friends (e.g., "hot wings" or even "extra hot" but not the xxx danger zone), and not nearly as hot as friends from India and Korea enjoy without batting an eye.

      2. c
        cobpdx Aug 22, 2013 09:35 PM

        We went earlier this year for the first time and generally enjoy fairly spicy food. When asked, we ordered a level 6 or so (not really knowing what to expect and wanting to enjoy the food).

        The first dish came and had some spice, but we were surprised it wasn't hotter, so we actually asked our server what level we received. Without missing a beat, he told us it was a 3. So, in my mind, I think this means they automatically dial it down from what you ask for unless they know you...

        If we hadn't asked our server, we would have left there assuming if we ordered a six, that we had received a six. Not so in our case and I have to wonder whether that is the explanation for the OP's experience. I bet they catered to the masses a lot less 10 years ago.

        1. Steve Green Aug 26, 2013 09:51 AM

          I may be the wrong person to answer this, as my heat tolerance is pretty low. Last visit, I ordered both the soup and the meat dish at 2*. The meat dish was noticeably hotter (I'd say a 4*) than the soup, which seemed about right for a 2*. On my previous visit (also both dishes at 2* -- the same dishes, BTW), the soup came back much hotter than the meat dish.

          My guess is, the spice level is a bit imprecise -- especially at low levels. I've been going there for some years, and have not noticed any particular trend in either direction, FWIW.

          1. l
            LVI Aug 27, 2013 07:19 AM

            I would also like to add that chili peppers are not an exact science either. While you can pick 2 peppers from the same basket at the farmers market or super market their spiciness can be dramatically different.

            I'm a 7 or 8 guy, depending on the dish. Lean towards 8 when a colder/room temperature dish.

            1. h
              hungree Sep 18, 2013 08:29 AM

              Went a while back and it wasn't spicy enough, so last night went with Spice Level 9 and mentioned that I like "thai spicy" and can handle anything. It was a to-go order so I saw them enter "level 9" into the computer. Also, the lady who brought it out commented that I "must like spicy food" so whatever level 9 is, that was it.

              I really loved the flavor. We are from the Bay so enjoy Chai Thai noodles' for northern thai. Also have been to Pok Pok. I think in terms of raw heat level 9 LOS is not as hot, but it has a significantly better flavor balance. Little things like the peanuts in the papaya salad being roasted make a huge difference. My tolerance is definitely high (enjoy trinidad scorpion pepper hot sauce, all the way through jalokia, ghost, and down to habanero at home), but this was still something I could taste and enjoy. Will probably get level 10 next time, but if it screws up the flavor balance I think 9 might be perfect and still very very spicy.

              1. i
                ioioioioio Sep 18, 2013 11:25 AM

                I was back two weeks ago (I'm the original poster). Ordered our appetizer at 6 stars (catfish salad). There was no noticeable heat. 5-6 years ago four stars was too hot for me for this dish. (My heat tolerance, if anything, has gone down since then.)

                So we ordered the duck curry at 8 stars. There was no heat.

                Came back the next night and order papaya salad at 9 stars. There were some jalapeno peppers in the dish but the background heat level was moderate at worst (or best). Ordered two other dishes at 9 stars, emphasizing that we liked the food hotter than what we had been receiving. No real heat in either. WTF? Is there a shortage of rat tail peppers in Thailand (or Las Vegas)?

                2 Replies
                1. re: ioioioioio
                  d
                  Dave Feldman Sep 18, 2013 07:55 PM

                  I don't know what to say. I've eaten at LOS 5 times in the past two weeks, with range of 3-9, and it was no different from 1999 (in fact, an En Tuen at a "7" was too hot for some). If I'm ordering for myself, I usually order a 9 for most dishes, but prefer some dishes with less heat. You can SEE the peppers in many of these dishes -- you should have seen them in the catfish salad, for example. They have bins in the back with a container of nothing but rat tail peppers -- there may be more than one-thousand of them prepped every day.

                  1. re: ioioioioio
                    h
                    hungree Sep 19, 2013 07:01 PM

                    You need to see what they are entering into their computer system. I think they are just not actualy giving you what you ordered. When I made my to go order for level 9, I saw them enter "level9" into the computer.

                    It was what I would expect level 9 to be, and I should know because I regularly eat thai chilis at home, as well as jalokia, ghost, habanero, and trinidad scorpion pepper hot sauce with all my meals at home.

                  2. i
                    ioioioioio Sep 19, 2013 11:37 PM

                    I guess I'm just going to have a heart-to-heart with my waiter and explain the situation. I have no doubt that they can produce food that will burn my tongue off but that's not what I'm looking for. I'm looking for a predictable amount of heat so that I can get food the way I like it rather than the way (apparently) the chef or waiter thinks I will like it.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: ioioioioio
                      d
                      Dave Feldman Sep 20, 2013 11:44 AM

                      Here's what I would do if I were you. Next time you go to LOS, I'd ask for Sabrina (the younger Chutima daughter) or if on the weekend, Penny (the older daughter). If they are not available, which they won't be most of October and some of November, ask for Aevil (who is known as A, pronounced just like the letter. He's the G.M. Tell any of them your issue, and I'm guessing they can work it out.

                    2. j
                      Jase Sep 23, 2013 02:50 PM

                      I've ordered the same dish with the same heat level at lunch and dinner the same day. Each time I've done this, the dinner version is always milder than lunch.

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