Another Chowhound poster alerted me to Prael, a new Thai restaurant on Melrose, one block west of Normandie. I wanted to check it out because it's one of the few local Thai restaurants to offer crispy rice salad with pork, which is similar to an amazing dish at Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas. But where LOS uses rice puffed up into rice-krispy-like puffs, Prael seems to maybe just dump some white rice in the deep fryer and then scoop it out and garnish it with a large quantity of cilantro, peanuts and a type of Thai spam-like cold cut.
Crispy rice salad
It's not the transcendent experience the puffed rice becomes when artfully combined with the spices and dressing at LOS, but I tend to like just about anything fried, and it makes a nice appetizer scooped up in a romaine leaf. The red curry beef was richly flavored, but the pad kee mow (spicy mint leaf noodles) were not as crispy as the recent excellent ones I had at Nadbob in Silver Lake. Other unusual dishes on their menu include Thai boat noodles, wild boar, Thai omelet, and fish hoe mook (curried fish wrapped in small cup and steamed) and ka nam pak kard (radish rice biscuit with green onion, bean sprouts and egg). Definitely authentic, but perhaps not for everyone. Cash only, no delivery, open every day 10:30 am to 9:30 pm.