Spicy BBQ Restaurant
5101 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90029
Located in a somewhat rough strip-mall is a tiny, family-owned restaurant specializing in Northern Thai cuisine. Able to accommodate approximately 15 people, this restaurant offers an authentic experience packed with great flavor and presentation. After doing some research on the Northern region of Thailand, I learned that this particular cuisine is greatly influenced by the cultures such as the Lanna, Chinese and Burmese. The abundance of food and soil derived from this mountainous, cool region has resulted in availability of fats, oils, meats, and slow-cooking processes: such as roasting, braising, grilling, boiling and frying. So here we were, sitting at this very small but clean and cozy restaurant, as we were approached by a friendly woman who appeared to be the hostess, as well as the waitress, cook, and cashier [did I mention this was a family business.]
After several suggestion from the waitress, we ordered: Hot Tea, Northern Thai Fish Soup, Spicy Shrimp Thai salad, and Spicy BBQ Pork. The tea was brought out in a traditional Chinese style teapot with two shot glass like tea cups. How cute, I thought! The presentation took me a home-like place: a dinner at grandmas perhaps.
The wait for the food was not long. I surveyed the surroundings, noticing “CASH ONLY” signs posted around the register, several Asian posters on the walls, and Thailand posters under the glass at each table. Our waitress reappeared carrying out the dishes, one by one. The presentation was impeccable – colorful and creative – a food showcase!
Northern Thai Fish Soup: served in a large kettle over fire – smelled incredible. Packed with boneless white fish, different wild mushrooms, and variety of green vegetables, the soup was very appetizing. Several hot chillies were floating on top, adding to the fiery spiciness. We topped it off with few spoons of steamed rice for texture and it was simply delicious. Hearty, savory and full of flavor. The fish in the soup was a good quantity and seasoned well; hence, no “fishy” smell to it.
Spicy BBQ Pork: served on a huge plate, strips of lean BBQ pork with a side of spicy, tangy sauce for dipping. To be honest, the dish was not as spicy as I thought it would be, considering the name of the restaurant is Spicy BBQ. And although the cut of the meat was a bit rough on some pieces; overall, the meat was tender and was complimented well with its side sauce.
Spicy Thai Shrimp Salad: everything you want in a big salad! Big chunks of crisp lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, mint and cilantro, perfectly cooked shrimp tossed in a spicy/sweet/vinegar mixed dressing. All the components of the salad were well seasoned and I particularly enjoyed the cut and flavor of the cucumbers. Yum!
All in All, this is a hidden mom-and-pop shop that most people would pass by unless they are aware of its location. Although small and unassuming, the restaurant possesses a charming feel to it. The service was fast and friendly [however I must say we were there past lunch hour], the menu was unique [one of the very few restaurants that specializes in Northern Thai cuisine], presentation was creative and flavors were bold and well developed. Looking forward to visit this place again and trying out a few more popular dishes, such as their famous curries, glass noodles, and spicy jack-fruit.