Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Croquer: Jitlada

I wasn't going to take any chances. The voice on the other end of the line asked the name attached to the special request for Jazz's special Thai burger. "Lisa," I lied (clearly). We had dinner plans at Jitlada for the following Wednesday, but I had been warned to call several days in advance as a courtesy. You see, Jazz's cult-like "secret" off-menu burger is made from scratch, with only from the freshest meat she has to go out and pick up special. And rumored only for her favorite customers. I've been to Jitlada, but Lisa was a bona fide regular. "I can't guarantee she will make it," the voice warned me. "Only if she feels like it that day." I nodded, as if he could see me, and thanked him for his help in this matter.
We showed up to Jitlada that following Wednesday early, to beat the dinner rush, finger's crossed. Once seated, we ordered Singhas and the infamous Steamed Mussels to start... The fresh New Zealand mussels are served simmering in a pot of aromatic lemon grass, chili, garlic and basil broth, an incredibly addictive soup once the mussels are all gone...
We sheepishly asked if the special burgers were in our stars, and all jumped in our chairs when our server said Jazz agreed to make them for us. The thick burger patties arrived embraced in lettuce leaves, topped with a slice of tomato, onions, sliced green chilies, Thai basil, and a sweet tangy sauce. The burger was juicy, spicy and happily at home with the Thai take on American "special sauce". I didn't want it to end...
Realizing it was about to however, we flipped to the BACK page of the menu - where the Southern Thai specialties live. No glossy color images there, just dense typed text tightly filling two pages. Pad Thai? Try Spicy Frog Legs or Phuket Lobster Tails. Oh, where to start?
The Morning Glory salad, of course. Crispy deep-fried Chinese watercress and shrimp make up this salad, with a house dressing and heavy hand of crispy onions. Texture heaven! This is a new favorite.
The Pumpkin Lamb Curry was the first item to make me cry (those familiar know that Jitlada is notorious for being one of the spiciest Thai restaurants.. ever. And proudly so). The lamb was flavorful even against the spice of the dry curry, cooled with sweet pumpkin.
The tastiest bite though would have to be the Crying Tiger Pork, another famous Jitlada dish. The meat is seasoned and cooked to toothsome perfection, spiced up by the accompanying chili lime dipping sauce. I debated ordering a another plate of it, but was reminded how full not only the table was, but my belly.
Jazz came by to say hello and see what we thought of the burger, sincerely concerned with our feedback. "My brother tells me to open a burger stand," she says of its popularity, "but it's too much work! I only use the freshest meat. I just went out and got that you know!" Yet all I could think was how soon can I come back? And how can I convince her to make me one again then?
5233 W Sunset Blvd. 323.663.3104
Jitlada in Los Angeles on Fooddigger
Jitlada Thai on Urbanspoon


  1. nice sampling of dishes at Jitlada - that secret menu burger sounds like it can take on In-n-Out's not-so-secret animal style anytime. Never frozen beef? HA! Try to getting it fresh from the market next door!

  2. No duck eggs wrapped in fish paste for you? That's my absolute favorite Jitlada dish! That is, until I finally get around to trying the burger ;-)

  3. Hmm Lisa, huh? I bet I could pull off a Lisa! The burger sounds tremendous. Though the mussels are quite the catch too -- probably my favorite dish when I went a couple months ago.