While most of us have tried and enjoyed Thai food, I learned recently that there is so much more to Thai cuisine than the few popular dishes many of us order. Thai Restaurant Week is an ideal time for all of us to learn more about the unique flavor combinations and great variety of dishes available at many Thai restaurants.
National Thai Restaurant Week on the west coast will be September 23 to 29. In New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey, the week is from September 16 to 22. Meals are discounted by 15 percent if a customer orders one of the three “must-try” dishes at the participating Thai Select Awarded restaurants.
Thai Select Awards from the Thai government indicate that the food, service and atmosphere of a restaurant have met the highest standards of quality and authenticity. For a complete listing of Thai Select restaurants go to www.ThaiSelectUSA.info or visit Thai Restaurant Week on Facebook. Thai Restaurant Week was organized by the Thai Trade Center, Los Angeles, and by Thailand's Department of International Trade Promotion.
I had the opportunity to taste a delicious sampling of some of these “must-try” dishes from five outstanding Los Angeles area Thai restaurants. More than 600 restaurants are participating in Thai Restaurant Week throughout the country and 300 of these restaurants are on the West Coast with many in the Los Angeles area and Southern California. The goal of this special week is to encourage visitors to try and learn to appreciate the wide array of wonderful Thai dishes available at Thai restaurants all over the country.
What distinguishes Thai food from other Asian cuisines? Some people think of Thai food as spicy and focus on such popular dishes as Pad Thai, but Thai cuisine offers so much more. Traditional Thai food features a balance of flavors that emphasize herbs and distinctive spices. While some of the delicious dishes we tasted were spicy and accented with chili peppers, others featured lemongrass, mint, coriander, basil, garlic, curry, turmeric, coconut, cumin, ginger, and many other spices and herbs. Thai food also reflects different regions of Thailand—North, Central and South. We learned that not all Thai food is the same.
Our tasting was held at the spacious Saladang Song restaurant, with many tables on a lovely open air patio. After an impressive video and presentation about Thai Restaurant Week, we were treated to an amazing variety of unique and delectable dishes, three from each of five Thai restaurants. Here are some brief descriptions of the beautifully presented, tasty dishes we sampled from each restaurant. These descriptions should give readers an idea of the great variety of flavors and ingredient combinations available at Thai restaurants. (Some but not all dishes were identified by their Thai names.)
Located at 383 S. Fair Oaks, Pasadena.
Eggplant Salad—a very tasty salad with grilled shrimp and accented with a tangy lime dressing, one of my favorite dishes of the day.
Grilled Salmon—sweet, fresh, grilled salmon combined with tender broccoli.
Fried Sweet Potato—lightly fried potato combined with a sweet and somewhat spicy cucumber salad, a wonderful combination. I went back for seconds.
8910 Reseda Blvd., Northridge
See a video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dAxwElSfQJ0
Aeb Pla—curried fish marinated with turmeric and served in a banana leaf, a traditional Thai dish from the northwestern area of Thailand.
Kuagling Kradook Moo—a spicy dish of curried pork ribs and beans from the southern region.
Goi Soi—shrimp and meat dish marinated in lime juice, chilis and green onions.
310 N. Larchmont Blvd.
11940 W. Pico Blvd.
See video at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-WaAVJiyaZM
Lobster Salad—tender, fresh lobster served on a mixed green salad with a tart dressing of lime juice, pepper, garlic and cilantro; a delicious, light, and popular dish.
Seafood Pad Thai—a different take on classic Pad Thai because it included clams, shrimp, mussels and king crab meat all on noodles with the restaurant’s special sauce.
Thai Lollipops—lamb marinated with mustard and grilled, served with a curry sauce and steamed bok-choy on coconut rice. (Just pick up these delectable pops with your fingers and you will find the meat to be tender and flavorful.)
531 W. Arrow Hwy., San Dimas
1515 N. Mountain Ave., Ontario
See video at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IhWDgauOFnA
Hormok Kanon Krok—salmon shaped into a ball with red curry and coconut milk, fried and served on lettuce.
Enoki Mushroom Salad—slivers of enoki mushrooms mixed with batter and deep fried, served with a delicious spicy sauce made of dried shrimp, lemon, nuts and tomatoes.
Shrimp Donut—scrumptious shrimp deep fried to a golden brown and shaped like a donut, served with sweet chili sauce.
125 N. Western Ave., Los Angeles
See video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDt03AcXawA
Kohr Moo Yang—pork marinated for two days in a spicy sauce and then grilled, very tangy and flavorful.
Som Dtum Goong Sod—papaya, shrimp, carrots, tomatoes with a spicy sweet and sour taste.
Nahm Dtok Mhu—pork or beef cooked in a fish sauce with sugar, lemon, pepper, cilantro, and onions, served with roasted rice
Guests are in for a treat at any of these impressive restaurants and at many other Thai restaurants around Southern California and the country. If you go with an adventuresome spirit and a willingness to try some new, unique tastes, you will be in for a special culinary experience that you will want to try again and again.
Thai Restaurant Week on the west coast culminates with the first Thai Food Festival on Sunday, September 29, at Paramount Pictures (5555 Melrose Ave. Los Angeles) from 3 to 6 p.m. For tickets, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.