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Catfish in a net at Jitlada

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Photoxpress

When I first moved to LA, a few friends specifically mentioned Jitlada as the best Thai food they had ever tasted. Of course, it’s been on my list of restaurants to try ever since. One evening when hungry and recently back from a trip to Thailand, I considered it was as good a time as any to try the ‘the best Thai food ever’ since I had some pretty stellar Thai food still firmly in my taste buds’ clutches as a comparison point.

You could so easily miss this little hole in the wall restaurant in a strip mall off West Sunset Boulevard. Drive inside into the mall, and consider yourself lucky if you find a parking spot. There are few. I had to peek under the awning to make sure I was in the right place because it really isn’t obvious, and the restaurant is in the far corner. However, all these things made me hopeful. I couldn’t resist the ‘hole in the wall,’ and ‘hidden gem’ feel to everything. 

The restaurant has a warm and inviting feel to it, albeit slightly stifling. From the first Sawasdee as you enter, to the rest of your evening, the service is very genial and charming. The menu is a feat to wade through, and you find yourself wondering how the kitchen could possibly keep up with the many, many offerings. 

I was really craving a good pomelo salad, but didn’t see it on the menu anywhere. The server seemed genuinely bemused at the mention of a pomelo, intriguing for a Thai restaurant, when I asked if they could make me a salad. She went into the kitchen cheerfully enough to pass on the query to the chef, but sadly, the lack of pomelos was permanent. And so, on we went to the coco-mango salad (mango, shrimp, lime juice, onions) and the crispy catfish salad which we were informed, is a house specialty. The coco-mango salad was quite good, fresh, and lived up to its ingredients. If only the mango had been an alphonso! The crispy catfish looked more wonderful than it tasted, as it came with a fascinating net of crispy flour floating atop the concoction. Apparently the catfish felt too trapped to exhibit any flavor.

Onto the rest of the food. The steamed mussels (lemon grass, mint, garlic– called Bangkok mussels on the menu) were tasty, and very reasonably priced at about $12. The green curry, which I order without fail at Thai restaurants, lived up to my usual expectations of it: fulfilling, flavorful and wonderful with rice (which you must order separately, for $1). 

For dessert: fried bananas with coconut ice-cream. Good way to round out the meal in pleasant settings amid smiling servers, and a tab that was light enough to forgive the lack of pomelos and oddly tasteless catfish salad. Was it the best Thai food ever? Probably not. Good, yes, but not the best. I would go back for a simple meal of green curry and rice. 

JITLADA

5233 West Sunset Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90027

Telephone: 323 663 3104

Hours: Monday 5 p.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Tuesday-Thursday and Sunday 11 a.m. – 10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.

RATING: 3.5 OUT OF 5 FRIED BANANAS; PRIMARILY FOCUSING ON SERVICE AND GREEN CURRY

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