Heat lamps and steam tables don’t usually signal deliciousness, but expect the unexpected at Ganda Siamese Cuisine. Ever since Saveur magazine’s chief editor proclaimed the food served at this Thaitown spot to be “the most authentic Thai food in America” a few dozen issues back, I’ve been meaning to scope it out. Book research was just the nudge I needed to pass over my dependable darlings Ruen Pair and Pa-Ord and finally give Ganda a go.
Chef-owner Sue Klinmalai rotates the selection of curries, braises, and stir-fries available each day, but expect to find two dozen or so dishes that are carefully made and intensely flavored. The array of offerings can be a bit daunting for the uninitiated, so feel free to ask the gals behind the counter for further details since most of the dishes aren’t labeled.
For just under $20, The Astronomer and I were treated to one of the boldest, spiciest, and most deeply flavorful meals in town. We shared a three item combination served with steamed white rice.
The crispy catfish (pla duk pad ped) is the restaurant’s most popular dish, and for very good reason. This central-Thai specialty, dry-braised in galangal, Kaffir lime leaves, and a plethora of spices, delivered on all fronts—crisp, sweet, savory, and spicy.
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My Thai food cravings can swing one of two ways: familiar or foreign. Sometimes I want to cozy up to my standbys, while other times I desire something sassier and spicier than just pad Thai.
When the latter feeling hits, I find my way to Pa-Ord for crispy pork and boat noodles, Jitlada for green mussels and crispy morning glory, and most recently, Pailin Thai Cuisine for fermented meatballs and curry noodles.
A series of appetizing posts from Sino Soul inspired me to seek out Pailin’s Northern Thai cuisine. The homey restaurant was humming when The Astronomer and I came in for a weeknight dinner. We settled into the booth closest to the stacks of Thaitown directories.
Even when I’m in the mood for novel Thai offerings, I can’t resist ordering a Thai iced tea for its creamy sweetness and dependable spice-squelching properties.
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It has become an annual tradition for The Astronomer and me to spend a glorious summer day at the L.A. County Fair. In addition to indulging in carnival cuisine, we love taking part in hillbilly fun and soaking in Pomona’s intense rays.
We had a hell of a time last year sampling deep-fried Oreos and chicken sandwiches made with jelly-filled Krispy Kremes. Not to mention, admiring homemade cakes paying homage to Vincent Van Gough and whooping it up at the pig races. This year, we vowed to outdo ourselves in all manner of food and fun.
The Astronomer and I arrived on opening day primed and ready to stuff our gullets. As “The Official Fair Foodie,” it was my duty to explore the edible terrain and leave no vendor unturned.
Our first stop was at Terri’s Berries, one of a handful of spots at the Fairplex serving legitimately healthy stuff.
The Astronomer and I shared a paper boat filled with fresh fresh fruit ($7), as well as a large and fuzzy peach ($1). These would be the only unadulterated nutrients that we would feed our bodies all day.
Continue reading ‘L.A. County Fair 2011: Deep-Fried Kool Aid, Indian Fry Bread, Monster Corn Dogs, and More!’
Years ago, I told a coworker that The Astronomer and I had made reservations a solid month in advance to dine at Osteria Mozza. “What if you’re not in the mood for Italian on that day?” she responded. Her question was logical enough, but it caught me by surprise nevertheless. In all my years of calling for reservations and eating when the date arrived, I’d never once considered the possibility that I wouldn’t be in the mood to enjoy whatever fare I had planned on.
In fact, I’ve always been hungry and ready for just about everything until a recent sushi date with my girl Lien. We had made plans to dine at her favorite spot Kiriko weeks in advance. However, when the day rolled around, I found myself not the least bit in the omakase mood. On this particular evening, I craved something filling, unfussy, cheap, and very spicy.
So, rather than meet for fresh and delicate fishes on the Westside, we jammed it to Thaitown instead. After all, it is the epicenter of all that is filling, unfussy, cheap, and very spicy.
Lien arrived at Ruen Pair first and snagged a comfy booth fit for four toward the back of the restaurant. The extra-large table proved to be quite useful as the evening progressed because we ordered a whole lot of food.
The first dish to arrive was the green papaya salad ($6.95). The heap of shredded papaya was pleasantly snappy and dressed in a well-balanced lime juice and fish sauce vinaigrette. Tomatoes, peanuts, and dried shrimps mingled harmoniously amongst the greenery.
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Chef Kris Yenbamroong opened Night + Market after spending years behind the stove at his parents’ decade-old Thai restaurant Talésai. Serving the same menu day in and day out, he grew a little antsy and desired an outlet to showcase a different side of Thai cuisine. When the space next door to Talésai became vacant, Chef Yenbamroong quickly snatched it up and transformed it into a dining room where the gritty street foods of Thailand’s night markets reigned supreme.
Now that he doesn’t have to worry about alienating Talésai’s longtime patrons, Chef Yenbamroong is finally able to serve food that personally inspires him in a space fitting of his style. Although, being the good son that he is, he still runs the kitchen at Talésai as well.
My friends Will and Brian, who have been dining here since it opened last November, recently coordinated a small dinner to introduce a couple of newbies to Chef Yenbamroong’s exciting concept. In order for us to fully experience Night + Market, the chef curated a tasting of his favorite dishes for us this evening. Everything was served family style, which properly captured the communal spirit of the place.
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