Northern Thai sausage and sticky rice
Ack, so much to do...stay tuned for the Los Feliz Ledger's Los Feliz/Silver Lake/Echo Park/Atwater restaurant and delivery guide on Jan. 1, compiled by moi...amidst the chaos, we stopped in at Spicy BBQ, which isn't exactly in Thai Town, but it's not far. It holds down the corner of the Santa Monica Blvd. mini-mall that has housed Falafel Arax pretty much forever, and it's across the street from the wonderful Sasoun Bakery. While Northern Thai food can be found at places like Thai Nakorn, Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas, and a few places in the Valley, it's a little harder to find on this side of the hill. Spicy BBQ is a tiny spot run by head cook Nong and her family, with only about six tables. On a weeknight, much of the traffic seems to be folks from the neighborhood getting pad thai to go, which makes me worry that maybe not enough people are experiencing Nong's excellent Northern Thai dishes. Kao soy on right, pickles on left
While the famous Erik M. from Chicago has been there to translate the special menu, the dishes are clearly listed in English with helpful photos. The Northern Thai sausage was strongly perfumed with kaffir lime leaves and lemongrass -- it had a wonderful flavor, but we probably should have ordered one of the spicy dips to go with it. Kao soy noodles are often said to be hard to find, but actually I see them on most Thai menus in the area. But Spicy BBQ's version is the best I've had since Lotus of Siam, with supple egg noodles and tender chicken legs dancing in a rich coconut curry broth. A small bowl of spicy pickled vegetables is served alongside to stir into the soup, adding another flavor dimension to the mild, soothing dish. Northern Thai pork curry (kang hunglay) is a more advanced dish, with large pieces of stewed pork with the skin still attached lurking in a complex red curry studded with ginger slices and peanuts. Sticky rice served in a small steaming basket is the traditional accompaniment. Everything was bursting with flavor, and I'm looking forward to returning for the spicy jackfruit salad, northern ground pork salad and spicy & sour kang som curry.
Spicy BBQ Restaurant (closed Wednesday)
5101 Santa Monica Blvd.