part three, we're west coasting it in la-la land. after all that talk about authentic and non-authetic thai food over at people's palace, i'm pretty sure that my favourite los angeles' joint is authentic. yai thai cuisine is a no-nonsense, no-frills spot in an odd little strip mall, just off the 101 freeway, but it has garnered high praise from chef jet tila, who recently named it as los angeles' top thai restaurant on kcrw's good food program (excellent show, btw, available as a free podcast); more importantly, simon, kirk, yoony, and dylan all like it, and judging from their blogs we've got similar tastes.
like the previous review said, the place is nothing to look at, but it has always been clean and well-lit everytime i've visited. the staff is very helpful and quite friendly. prices range from dead cheap to reasonable. the menu is extensive, and there is also a noticeboard with other specials; the only thing they ever seem to run out of is certain canned drinks. the food can be absolutely fiery here, so when they ask you if you'd like it mild, medium, or spicy, truly question your tolerance before responding. some items may seem rather mundane in description, but once it arrives, it manages to transcend a plain name. the jungle curry, however, is as exotic as the name sounds--it is in fact the first jungle curry i've had that looks like it was literally made in a jungle--wild eggplant crowd with a handful of long beans, bamboo shoots and various leaves, as if someone had just foraged for the meal. it is equally as adventurous tasting--there are unfamiliar oils and a bitterness in the ingredients that aren't as pungent in cultivated vegetables.
many of the noodle dishes can be ordered wet or dry (with soup or dry-fried); i honestly don't remember which dish this is, but it had an assortment of fish cake and seafood in it, along with some very nice barbecued pork loin and pork meatballs. the broth is light and slightly salty, but not overwhelming, with an almost florally pork essence to it.
quite possibly my favourite thing on the menu (competing neck and neck with the black egg pow)--and chef jia's too--is the puffed catfish with green apple relish. a whole (farmed, alas) catfish is split, deboned, and fried in a batter that is completely ungreasy, light as a feather but as crunchy as your favourite potato chip. the tender catfish meat is incendiary heat hot straight from the oil, but sweet, mild, and meltingly soft. that combined with a relish of matchsticked granny smith green apples, sliced red onion, cilantro, chili pepper dressed in just a drop of lime juice and fish sauce is the absolute business, i tell you, the bomb. yes, so good i will use overplayed, outmoded (sub)urban slang.
so there you go. three for three. hope to see you here. or there. or there.
5757 hollywood boulevard (x-street taft)
tagged! los angeles restaurant dining thai