Tuesday, July 13, 2010
Last May, I read about the off-menu Thai burger from Jitlada in an article by Jonathan Gold. As soon as I finished, I knew that I had to have that burger. It took a couple of months for it to happen, but wow, was it worth it and thanks so much to Jazz, owner of Jitlada, for making my burger wish come true. As mentioned, this burger is not only off-menu, but also involves a lot of preparation on Jazz's part.
First, don't come into Jitlada, ask for this burger and expect to get it that same night. Jazz uses ingredients that may not be available to whip up an impromptu burger. Second, if you really want to try this burger, you'll have to ask for it ahead of time and even then, because of the work involved, Jazz may say Yes or No to your request, depending on her availability. Again, because of the work involved, she may be more inclined to say "Yes" to a regular customer. These are just a few things to keep in mind. Now let's get to the good stuff, the Thai Burger itself.
This burger usually comes with two patties, like the double-double at In-N-Out, but so much better. Since I had plans for our group to order other items from Jitlada's menu, Jazz kindly dressed up one burger for each person. That one burger was on crunchy lettuce leaves with a slice of tomato, red onions, Thai basil and topped with a sweet sauce. I wrapped the whole thing up in my lettuce, took a bite and was in burger heaven. That burger was definitely spicy, but the sauce helped lessen the impact a bit. The tomato's acidity and the green herbiness of the Thai basil also added wonderful nuances of flavor. I also enjoyed the slight crunch of the burger, which Jonathan Gold referred to in his article.
Overall, I can see why this burger got such kudos. It's definitely worth having over and over again. I almost wish we went all out and enjoyed a full burger, instead of this half portion. All I know is that I hope there will be a chance in the near future that Jazz will agree to a repeat performance and if so, I'll be there, ready for some eating action.
While still glowing in the afterglow of that amazing burger, the rest of our dishes started to arrive, one by one. First, there was the Crispy Morning Glory Salad, made up of deep-fried Chinese watercress with shrimp and a house dressing. If you've never had this dish, make sure you order it at your next visit. I absolutely love the light crispiness of the watercress and it's definitely a different way to enjoy this slightly peppery green.
Our next dish was an Off-Menu Rice Salad. Now there is a rice salad on the menu, but the particular rice salad at our meal was Jazz's variation of the one on the menu. I had the original rice menu earlier in the year and based on my memory, I think this newer rice salad had more of a curry taste to it? I could be wrong, but nevertheless, it was delicious, so no complaints.
As we all know, Jitlada is known for their spicy foods, but now, they also have a spicy smoothie on the menu, too. This smoothie is made up of mango, pineapple and other unknown ingredients that give this drink its heat. Our table actually shared 4 of these smoothies between 8 of us and some couldn't even finish their portion after a couple of sips. Others were drinking water or taking bites of food to cool down their palate. When I drank it, I could taste chilies and then some.
Up next was the Pork Crying Tiger, which was featured on The Best Thing I Ever Ate Show (the Hot and Spicy Edition) on Food Network. The pork itself isn't spicy, but the chili-lime sauce this dish comes in will give you the hit of heat you're looking for. I like how the meat has such a caramelization to its surface that some of the spots have a slightly blackened crust to them. Thsi dish actually reminds me of Filipino BBQ.
Turmeric chicken drumsticks soon arrived and with it came sticky rice and a papaya salad. The chicken didn't have any batter and was fried within the inch of its life, which is how I like it personally. However, for some, the jerky-life texture of the chicken meat may not be as appealing. The only thing I would have liked is to taste more of the turmeric and the pepper. Those spices were just a little MIA for me.
What came next was the spiciest dish of our entire meal, which was the Pumpkin Lamb. The lamb was cooked in a dried curry and with more of a squash than a pumpkin and oh my, it was a dish that lit up my mouth. I mistakenly took a sip of my spicy smoothie, which made things slightly worse. Thank goodness for the iced vegetables that soon hit our table. They helped put out the fire. I still went back for seconds, but this time ate it with bites of rice so that I could better enjoy this dish.
Our last two dishes were seafood items. What arrived first was the Krabee, deep fried catfish (bone-in) with dry chili sauce and fried sweet basil. Even with the chili oil and chili flakes, the fish wasn't very spicy, but fried fish and I always enjoy each other's company so it was still a good dish for me and I absolutely loved the fried sweet basil.
Last, but not least, was the Kaeng Leuang Cha-Om Khai, an acacia leaf omelette and shrimp in a hot and sour curry. When I first saw this dish, I was a little confused. When I think of an omelette, I was thinking something more traditional. Instead, what we got was egg battered acacia leaves and shrimp in a bowl of hot and sour curry soup. After taking a few bites, I actually found myself really liking it. The acacia leaves had a slight bitterness to it that was offset by the egg and the sweetness of the shrimp while I really liked tang of the soup itself. It reminded me of a sour Filipino soup known as Sinigang.
We were contemplating dessert, but decided to opt out. Then we were surprised by an Off-Menu Shaved Ice dessert made by Jazz's sister. I've had my share of shaved ice dessert, but this one was different. This is the first time I tasted rose. I'm not sure whether some kind of rose flavoring was added to the milk or if it was some kind of rose milk, but this dessert was both sweet and floral. Along with palm seeds and jackfruit, there were also water chestnuts encased in some kind of pink tapioca flour. It's a dessert that I'd love to have again.
Overall, this was a delicious meal that started off with the best burger, actually, the best thing I've eaten so far this year and ended with a dessert that took shaved ice desserts to another level. Simply, Jitlada is one of my favorite restaurants and with meals like this, it's easy to see why.
5233 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027