Jan. 5, 2010

5 Jan

I realized that yesterday’s post said “2009.” That’s wrong. It’s corrected now.

1:15 pm

Souplantation

Lots of salad

1 pizza bread

1 corn muffin

1 scoop of mac n’ cheee

1 bowl of clam chowder

1 brownie sundae

1 glass of strawberry lemonade (with 2 refills)

Ah Souplantation. I can write about this bastion of side dishes like Tom Hanks makes HBO mini-series about World War II. In fact, I’ve already written a long tribute to this place in one of my very first posts. See how the site’s evolved over the year. It’s turn-back-the-clock day on Eat With Joe!

Also, notice how this is my first meal of the day? That justifies the brownie sundae at the end. I use a soup bowl for ice cream. I can hold more ice cream in a bowl as opposed to a dainty cup, and that allows me to transfer more ice cream into my mouth. It’s common sense, really.

7 pm

Jitlada

green mussel curry

side of Thai sticky rice

1 bottle of Hefeweizen beer

Ah Jitlada. It was inevitable that I write about the most popular Thai restaurant in Los Angeles. Ever since this post by a Chicago blogger who stumbled upon Jitlada in 2007, this place has been packed with foodies, tourists, chefs, scenesters and the occasional celebrity. One wall of this small storefront is entirely devoted to rave review and a couple of thank-you drawings of Simpsons characters by Matt Groening. There was an overflow crowd on tonight’s visit, and most of the clientele seemed to be discussing what they heard on NPR that morning.

The ironic thing is that Jitlada’s popularity grew after they became more uncompromising to Western tastebuds. Before 2006, Jitlada was one of hundreds of non-descript Thai restaurants in Hollywood that was remembered for peppering neighboring residences with paper menus weekly. Then Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong and her older brother Suthiporn Sungkamee took over the place in 2006. Jazz works the room relentlessly, waiting tables, chatting up regulars and picking dishes for indecisive diners. Suthiporn, the chef, added a separate menu of Southern Thai cuisine and refined the cooking immeasurably. Mudfish and fish kidneys are much more delicate than they sound. He also doesn’t compromise with the heat level. Khua kling, a dry curry that’ll overwhelm you with tumeric like black lungs, could be one of the spiciest dishes I’ve ever had. The raw blue crab salad with lemongrass, mint and chili is like a punch in the mouth. And I almost did cry after eating their Crying Tiger beef dish. Even the green mussel curry, which I ordered at medium spiciness, surprised me on first bite. Despite the heat level, flavors are just balanced to be compelling and not sadistic. It hurts, but you willingly go back for more. I devoured those mussels, despite a few stray strands of beards that looked unappetizing, and sopped up every ounce of curry with hunks of Thai sticky rice, which can absorb liquid like a Sham-wow.

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