HERMANO SEGUNDO BACK IN LA: THAI TOWN AND TAIWANESE PORK CHOPS
Los Angeles is made of cities.
There are the ritzy ones like Santa Monica, Bel Air and Beverly Hills. There are the tougher neighbourhoods like Compton, Watts and East L.A and there are those in between like Culver City where I am staying on this trip.
If geographically and politically, L.A is made up of cities, then in a culinary sense, L.A is made up of towns, each representing a different part of its vast and varied demographic. There’s K-Town, where on my last visit I had some of the best Korean BBQ I have ever tried. There’s Little Armenia, Little Ethiopia, Historic Filipino Town and, best of all, Thai Town, which I am told, is the centre for the largest concentration of Thai’s outside of Thailand itself.
For lunch yesterday Sybil had selected Jitlada, a small but well thought of restaurant in the heart of Thai town and although it was quiet and empty when we arrived the restaurant soon began to fill with both hungry punters and alluring smells from the kitchen.
We were only planning a light lunch, so began with Yum Pla Duk Foo, a salad of slightly sour mango with deep fried catfish, where the fish is baked and shredded into tiny flakes before being fried until wonderfully crisp.
To follow, two more traditional Southern Thai dishes, a fiery yellow curry with pork and a “Bangkok style” fried rice topped with egg and served with flavourings of spring onions, shallots, cucumber and pork in a sweet sauce. Both were excellent with sharp, fresh flavours of fresh preparation and good ingredients and at $20a head, a perfect budget lunch.
We could easily have ordered and enjoyed more dishes, but for supper, Sybil wanted to show me yet another side to L.A and, after an afternoon of walking up to the splendid Griffith Park Observatory, we bundled up at the door of her good friend, Doris who had persuaded her mother to cook us a Traditional Taiwanese supper.
I was fading a bit by then and the thought of my bed could have won out had it not been for the delicious savoury steam emanating from the kitchen. Soon, with a restorative glass of wine to keep me going, I watched Doris’s mum appear with our meal, which consisted of “Lion’s Head Soup” with toothsome pork meatballs, mushrooms and cabbage and a pork chop fried and served with fresh and pickled cabbage.
Both Doris and her Mum were slightly apologetic explaining that Taiwanese food is often “not very pretty food” but no apologies were necessary. As I mentioned in my last post, taste wins out over appearance every time and both these dishes were deeply delicious. Sybil seemed to agree as she gnawed at the bone of her pork chop and drained the last drops from her soup bowl.
I have said it before and I will say it again it is food like this that makes me truly happy, simple, well prepared and served with generosity of spirit. L.A may be made up of cities, but its towns are coming up trumps