Saturday, September 17, 2005

Rambutan raves and rants

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.


Anonymous said...

Chopsticks. Actually, Thai people (in Bangkok, anyway) use chopsticks for skinny noodles. The Thai custom for something like Pad Gra Pow over rice is to eat with a tablespoon, using the fork to shove things into the spoon.

Cybele said...

I usually order for Rambutan and really like the food.

However, we walked down for table service on Monday night ... we arrived rather early so it was pretty quiet and I didn't notice until after we left how loud it was. My ears were literally ringing for several hours later.

The food was excellent, as was the service that night. I don't really care if stuff is "authentic" but have always found that the brown rice mix is pretty easy to eat with chopsticks (but I learned to eat with chopsticks around the same time as other utensils).

Jessica said...

Authentic or not, whatevs. I love Rambutan. On weeknights only, that is. I don't bother on weekends. Although we once went on a Monday when it was super packed, while Tuesdays and Weds. have been fine. Seems to be totally random.

I'll always go back for all the dumplings, beef cups, sausage, sticky rice, mosquito bite cocktails (sort of a soju mojito), and the orange silk-lined walls -- I wish I had the guts to have something like that touch in my own home. Sure Ruen Pair kicks Rambutan's ass in lots of ways. But it's a nice break from cash-only Thai Town joints. That being said, I really gotta check out the new Palms since it's so close to me.

Doran said...

I've ranted before and will do it again about noise levels. With all the attention to trendy lights and colors and flowers and chairs, they forget about what people do at restaurants beyond eating. That is, they talk! I don't expect silence, but I do expect to be heard from 30 inches away.

Unless I'm there for a band or a DJ, I'd prefer my dinner music to be muted, regardless of the genre. And please, please, please (!) have the designers pay attention to hard surfaces and carpeting. Getting the balance right, if you will, is an important and often forgotton aspect of providing an enjoyable experience.

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Anonymous said...

Rambutan does have an accoustic wall covering running down one whole side of the restaurant. The noise levels are a bit high, but maybe that's because it's crowded. I was at Paladar a few months back and couldn't hear myself think. I've never heard Sade...Thievery Corporation, Massive Attack..would you rather hear Whitney Houston or Mariah Carey? That seems to be what most Thai places are playing.

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