Monday, February 02, 2009

Jitlada's new dishes: some fiery, some fun

Crispy morning glory and shrimp salad

Saturday night at Jitlada was absolutely packed, so we were lucky to get the last table before the waitlist started when we stopped by to try a few of the new dishes. There's now a small card of specials on the tables and Jazz will also tell you about other specials not listed. Most of the dishes on the specials card are on the pricier side -- lobster tails and such -- so we tried the two dishes Jazz suggested: pork belly with sator beans in yellow curry and an unusual salad of crispy morning glory stems with shrimp. The morning glory dish was a big hit -- crunchy saffron-colored batter coated the morning glory stems (they're similar to pea shoots in taste), which were then paired with shrimp in a light tangy dressing, showered with fried shallot slices. When the dish of cabbage and carrots on ice arrives, you know you're in for some serious heat, and pork belly with sator beans was serious, alright. The pungent yellow curry sauce was definitely one of Southern Thailand's hotter offerings, with slices of tender pork belly combined with Thai eggplant and the wild-tasting sator beans, topped with stalks of Thai peppercorns (left). Eating this dish is like passing a class in advanced Thai cuisine. I was less enthusiastic about shrimp and pineapple in lemon yellow curry, since hot pineapple slices in soup didn't work quite as well as some of the other dishes. Matt loved one of the old favorites, the rice salad, for its perfect spice level and combination of so many flavors, with lemongrass leading the charge. We were pretty full after all this but couldn't pass up the luscious sticky rice and mango topped with creamy condensed milk. As I said hi to Tui in the kitchen, a nice-looking salmon curry dish came out, looking somewhat less dangerous, spice-wise, and I made a note to try it next time. (I love intense heat, but it's not always easy on the other guests I'm eating with, and it tends to obscure the taste of dishes that come after it.)
It's great that Jitlada isn't resting on its much-deserved laurels, but continues to try new dishes and push the boundaries of authentic Thai food without resorting to "fusion" cuisine.
Tip: Make a reservation on weekends, or eat on a weeknight for even more attention from Jazz and the kitchen. And don't miss the framed receipt on which Matt Groening drew Homer Simpson when he ate there.
Jitlada Thai on Urbanspoon


Anonymous said...

Jitlada is always reliable, and always pushes the boundaries of Thai cuisine in L.A. The pork belly dish you tried sounds delicious.

Two weeks ago, I really liked the fried shrimp with basil bits in the batter, served with a sweet and spicy chile sauce.

Sadly, the last couple times I was there, Jazz wasn't. Glad to hear you got the full Jitlada experience. The restaurant isn't the same without her.

Right Way to Eat said...

I'm glad to hear about their new dishes added. Something like 200?

The first few times of last year were some of my enjoyable meals. The last time around wasn't the same magic. I think they will do fine with the new additions and hopefully I can relieved that spicyness that got me to this place.

Anonymous said...

i want to get food there

weezermonkey said...

Mmm. This looks great.

Anonymous said...

Glad you liked the morning glory salad and the sator bean/pork belly stir fry! Next time try the pumpkin lamb!! It's wonderful

Anonymous said...

that last comment was from "oldiebutfoodie"...I seem to be arguing with google about my password! As a Jitlada "groupie" we are now exploring the expanded menu..with trips back to the original 40 or so.