For the past couple of months, the buzz around all the foodie blogs and message boards has been about the spicy Southern Thai dishes at Jitlada. So one night, a friend and I decided to have dinner at Jitlada. Like everyone else, I brought a printout of the write-up that Eric, a Chicago blogger, did about this restaurant which included his recommendations and translations of all the dishes. See link below:
Thankfully, with the newfound boom in clientele, we saw that since Eric's visit, the owners had that section of the menu translated. Yay us.
So on to our meal! Between my friend and me, we chose 6 dishes from the Southern Thai menu. We started off with their rice salad, Khâo Yam "Songkhla", which was a mound of steamed rice topped with either finely crushed dried shrimp or shrimp crackers and fried coconut and surrounded by a veggie assortment. Along with the dish came a tamarind sauce. This was a nice starter with lots of great flavors and textures. How can you go wrong with fresh, crisp veggies, the salty-sweetness of the two toppings plus the sweet heat of the sauce? You really can't.
Following the rice salad was an entrée that definitely left a fiery impression, more so than any of the other items we ate that night. On the menu, you'll see this dish as Khanõm Jiin “Meuang Khon” 5 Náam 3 Dâng. The ingredients of rice vermicelli and fish balls seem innocent enough, but it was the very hot curry sauce that made my taste buds sit up, sing and take notice. Wow! I can almost feel my mouth burning again, just thinking about it.
Accompanying this noodle dish were both fresh and pickled vegetables. The addition of the veggies to the noodles actually helped cut down on the heat. On their own, the noodles and the sauce may be too much of an overload for the non-spicy eater, so the vegetables may actually be your lifesaver if you still want to take a chance on this dish.
From the fiery depths, we "cooled" down a bit with the arrival of our Néua Tàet Dìaw / Néua Sũwan or dried/fried beef jerky. The meat was definitely chewy as beef jerky should be; yet, it still retained some tenderness as well. Try taking a bite of the meat topped with both the red onion and the cilantro that comes with this dish. The beef jerky already has great flavor, but the onion and cilantro just makes it that much better.
Spicy comes back to town with the appearance of the two wet curries we ordered. The first one up was Kaeng Kûng Wùa Thùa, a spicy, turmeric-seasoned curry with shrimp and jicama. I was surprised to see jicama as an ingredient since I tend to associate that ingredient with Latin cuisine or fusion cooking, but it added a little juicy crunch to the dish, which I liked. Between the shrimp and red bell peppers, this curry dish was more on the sweet side, but still packed a delicious punch.
The second curry dish we tried was Kaeng Tay Poh Plaa Châwn Hâeng or a Southern Thai-style curry with dried mudfish and water spinach. What I found the most unappealing about this dish was the dried mudfish, which had a weirdly gummy texture to it. I would have preferred if the fish was just fried. Of everything we tried, this was my least favorite dish. That's not to say that it was bad. While the sauce had the heat, the flavor wasn't there for me, especially in comparison to the previous dishes we already tried.
After what was already a 5 entrée marathon, our Plaa Thâwt Râat Phrík, which is a deep-fried fish “smothered” in sweet chile sauce arrived. You have your choice of fish and we opted for the sea bass. The little bit I sampled before we just had it wrapped up to go was amazingly tasty and although the sauce described itself as being chile sauce, I didn't find it to be spicy at all, just packed with lots of flavor. If I wasn't so full, I would have poured the sauce over my rice and went to town.
In fact, I enjoyed the food so much that I went back a couple of days later and tried a couple other menu items, although not on the Southern Thai menu. I had their Coco Mango Salad which is sliced mango, shrimp, lime juice, onion and chili with also a bit of coconut water. Wow, what a great salad. You get tart, sweet, and a little bit heat all in one bite. Since I was too full for dessert the first time I visited, this time I didn't pass it up and had their mango with sticky rice. Double Wow! This was the best mango and sticky rice I've ever had. I don't even have words. Just try it! You won't regret it.
Overall, our meal that night was fantastic and I can see why this new Southern Thai menu of Jitlada's is getting all the raves. If you haven't already, don't pass up a meal from this unique menu. You will definitely be a faithful convert.
To see pics, go to:
Jitlada Thai Cuisine
5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027