Boy was I looking forward to trying Jitlada. Care Bear really hyped it up for me. Alas, as we all know, hype goes hand in hand with disappointment. Don’t get me wrong, most of the food was good. I just don’t know why people think it is soooooo good. I mean, it was on FoodTV’s “The Best Thing I Ever Ate: Hot & Spicy” episode. Apparently, Chef Curtis Stone thought the crying tiger pork dish was the best hot & spicy thing he ever ate. Who is Chef Curtis Stone?
This is Chef Curtis Stone:
Do I trust Curtis Stone’s opinion? Much less so after this experience.
Care Bear and Panda Bear had been there before, but Buff Bear and I were newbies. Still we didn’t know what to order, since the menu is GIGANTIC. They have pages and pages of regular Thai food, and then a whole page dedicated to Southern Thai food. This place is no run of the mill pad thai, tom yum kum sorta Thai restaurant. No no no. This place is special for the Southern Thai dishes. What is Southern Thai cuisine? Heck if I know. According to Thai Food & Travel, Southern Thai food tends to be “heavy, rich, pungent, intense and very hot and spicy.” I don’t think anything we ate was anymore of those things than usual Thai food. The exception was the curry. It was damn spicy. What was special were the dishes themselves. I don’t think I’ve seen any of these dishes anywhere else.
The restaurant is small with old decor. It’s no RCA or Palms Thai. The patrons were mostly white people, which I found very strange. We got there around 7 and got seated right away, but by the time we left around 9 or 10, there was a big wait outside. Service was remarkably slow, but we got our food eventually.
We decided to order off the chef specialty menu. Along with being “special” I think it also means “add another $5 bucks.” We started off with the fried morning glory salad. Have I expounded upon my love for Thai salads yet? I think I’d love anything slathered in spicy lime dressing. Although I think it defeats the purpose of “salad” if you make it out of fried things. I appreciated the varying textures in the salad. I wished there was more of it to go around.
I believe we ordered the Crying Tiger: Pork. This is the dish Curtis Stone loved. I agree it was good. It really wasn’t that spicy, but it had a good balance of salt and sweet. The pieces of pork were succulent. The dipping sauce wasn’t really necessary but it was tastey. Again, I wished there was more of it.
I think this was a fried sea bass? It was too small for the $$ we paid. I can’t remember the exact price, but I DO remember feeling majorly jipped. It was crispy, and what meat there was was moist. This sauce was appropriately complimentary. All the fried garlicky bits were yummy.
This was the BEST dish of the night, the steamed mussels. The mussels were fresh and cooked perfectly. The broth was amazing. It was so TASTY. I would use the word umami here. Plenty of umami stemming from the combination of chilies, lemongrass, Thai basil, and of course, mussel juices. It was so tasty, I thought it had to be unnatural, like from MSG. I was slurping up the soup, but I was fearful I would suffer the consequences. Whenever I have MSG, 30min to 1 hour later I’m DYING of thirst. This was not the case. So I can firmly say, all that delicious flavor is born of natural ingredients. The mussels were served with yet another delicious sauce of green chilies.
We also ordered the oxtail curry which totally lagged and came almost after we finished everything else. It was very difficult to split since these were more boney oxtails than I had imagined and the meat that was on there wasn’t really falling off the bones like I had imagined. There were only 2 pieces too. The heat factor on the sauce was way too overpowering for me. I can’t even remember if it was a sweet curry or if there was a strong coconut taste or fish sauce taste. My taste buds were burned from spice. All I remember was that it was yellow and damn hot.
Overall, Jitlada offered a new Thai dining experience which I greatly enjoyed. What I did not enjoy was the slow service, the higher than usual prices for a restaurant in Thai town (I don’t think any dish was under single digit prices?), and the undersized portions. However, the mussels are excellent and I would love to come back and have me a pot by myself!
5233 W Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027