Another Taste of Thailand

February 2, 2014

Dinner at Night + Market 

The last time I had food that tasted like this was not in America, but in Laos, where I learned to rethink what I considered edible, to respect every possible source of nutrition. It reminded me that most of the Thai food we get here comes from very high up on the food chain.

You can go to Night + Market and eat delicious food that will make you happy and ask very little of you: sweet and spicy chicken wings, crab fried rice, pad  thai and fiery curries.  But if you’re an adventurous eater, there are flavors here that will really stretch your taste boundaries.

Some highlights from last night’s dinner:

Rice cooked with pork jowl and blood, and steamed in a banana leaf. Dark, funky and totally delicious, this is the manliest fried rice you’ll ever eat. I loved it. 

Fried pig tails. If you told your friends that they were eating a newly discovered part of the chicken, they’d absolutely believe you. Nothing scary here: rich, fatty, sweet, spicy, these little tidbits are so much fun to eat.  Utterly addictive. 

Liver ceviche. This is liver as you have never had it before. Lightly cooked, the triangles are dressed in lime, fish sauce, chiles and herbs, which unapolgetically underline the essential nature of liver.  

Catfish, pork fat, chiles and herbs wrapped in banana leaves and baked until the fish becomes as soft as custard. A bracing take on the rather tame hor mok; I couldn’t stop eating it. 

Grilled strips of hog collar – wonderfully fatty – to dip into a jaew – the pounded chile paste that is the staple food of northern Thailand.  

And finally, the most luxurious pork hock, slowly cooked in a dark soy concoction, deep, sweet and incredibly intense. That soy sauce tasted as if a million spices had gone swimming through and left their flavors in their wake. 

Night + Market shares a space with Talesai, which was a pioneer in the eighties, bringing a new elegance to Los Angeles Thai restaurants. The latest member of the family is an indication of how much things have changed.  This loud hip restaurant offers Thai food for an adventurous generation that has been to Thailand and understands that this cuisine has a whole host of new flavors available to anyone willing to take the next step.   

 

 

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