Sunday, May 06, 2007

Taste test: Sri Siam , another Noho winner

For my money, there's absolutely no finer flavors to be had than in the desolate minimalls of North Hollywood. We had an amazing meals a few months ago at Swan Thai; last week it was time to try Sri Siam. Until you see the framed reviews from Jonathan Gold et al lining the walls, you would never realize this tiny, plain restaurant is one of the city's best Thai restaurants. Since the reviews were written a few years ago, more of the specials have been listed in English on the menu -- they must have realized that farangs who make their way to Vanowen St. probably don't just want the pad thai. It was just the two of us, so we started with Spicy BBQ Eggplant Salad with ground chicken, shrimp, a tangy, fiery dressing and soft, smoky pillows of eggplant. The Pad Kee Mao noodles were equally spicy -- they are happy to confer with you on exactly the spice level you prefer. I learned that the Thai word for my favorite level, which is pretty spicy for most people but not completely mouth-searing, is, I think, "pet kong." They might not have been the very best pad kee mao I've ever had, but it was up near the top, with a nice wok hey quality and just enough grease to be addictive. Another standout was the Kang Ped, red curry with little round Thai eggplants. We got it with tofu -- probably not the most authentic, but healthier and still an incredibly flavorful, multi-layered curry, heavy on the kaffir lime leaves. We were too full for much dessert, so we took home an order of sticky rice and mango. The next day, it made one of the best breakfasts ever. It's kind of hard to imagine that most people settle for the most mediocre Thai food when there's stuff like this within a 20 minute drive from almost anywhere in the city.
Sri Siam Cafe
12843 Vanowen St.
North Hollywood
(818) 982-6262
(free delivery in the area)

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