Last night we revisted Rambutan in search of less-greasy, healthier Thai food. Here's the good news:
The good: We enjoyed both of our dishes, as well as the nutty, flavorful brown rice. The beef salad was as good as I remembered, not as funkily spicy as you would get at really authentic places like Yai, but clean, perfectly cooked to medium rare, and flavorful despite its lack of heat.
The Pad Gra Pow (chicken with basil, garlic and bell peppers), although way spicier than I'm used to it, was also savory and clean-tasting. The spicy sauce was awesome when poured over the brown rice. These dishes proved that it is possibly to eat flavorful food that's fairly healthy.
The bad: First of all, the noise level on a Friday night was very high just with the conversation. It's a small room, and when it's packed, there's nowhere for the sound to go. Do not go on a first date, at least not on a weekend. As if the ear-splitting conversation wasn't loud enough, then they cranked up the generic KCRW/Sade/"chill" music while we were eating to definitively shut out the possibility of any conversation at all.
Then, the chopsticks. Why? Thai people do not use chopsticks. Is it supposed to look classier or more authentic? Well, it doesn't. The rice they serve is impossible to eat with chopsticks. I hate having to ask for forks.
And finally, the food. I actually liked both dishes, but it seemed like the heat levels were switched. Spicy beef salad is called spicy on the menu, and yet had barely a shiver of heat. And Pad Gra Pow, which has been a mild dish at the countless other Thai restaurants I've ordered it in, was assertively spiced, almost too much for us.
I'm glad Silver Lake has more upscale options than it used to, but I'm afraid the noise level is going to make me think twice next time I'm thinking about Rambutan.