5233 1/2 West Sunset Boulelvd., Los Angeles, California 90027, USA
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The restaurant does the generic Thai standards (saté, tom kha soup, pad Thai, etc.) very well, but their appeal lessens when the alternatives include dishes like that crisp catfish salad or small, sweet soft-shelled crabs, crisp-fried, halved crosswise, and moistened with turmeric-scented yellow-curry sauce, or shredded-mango salad tossed with shrimp, cashews, and chiles. “The recipe is from our grandma,” says Singsanong. Fresh turmeric, a spice much appreciated in southern Thailand, flavors a deep-fried whole sea bass covered with crisp dark brown bits of fried garlic; neither the turmeric nor the caramelized garlic betrays the hint of bitterness that both often do. (“Not many

people know how to fry garlic,” Singsanong says. “It’s a question of exactly the right temperature.”) The “rice salad” called khao yam, a specialty of the province of Songkhla, is an emblematic classic of southern Thai cuisine. Here, it’s basically a heap of perfectly cooked rice topped with a jumble of chopped or shredded ingredients meant to be stirred in, among them mango, bean sprouts, green beans, coconut, lemongrass, and dried shrimp, along with Kaffir lime juice (the limes grow in Singsanong’s yard) and homemade Thai fish sauce. Steamed mussels aren’t a traditional southern Thai dish (“Mussels were on the old menu,” says Singsanong, “and Tui made them better”), but they are irresistible: plump New Zealand greenlips in a rich broth flavored with Thai basil, lemongrass, mint, garlic, and green chiles. Singsanong recommends scooping up some of the broth with a mussel shell when the meat is gone; it’s so flavorful I would have preferred using a great big spoon

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09 Jul 2020

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