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(Gerry Furth-Sides) Thai people own a reputation for open-door hospitality plus a love of pomp and circumstance. They boast of their brilliant, colorful, balanced and varied cuisine. After all, they are a country that has never been conquered by outside forces – they seem simply to invite potential invaders in and fold the best of the new culture into their own.
The 2016 launch of the Chang Sensory Trails in Los Angeles (www.changbeer.com) gives living proof of this all The event lives up to its promise of being, a “multi-sensorial playground to create new memories around Thai iconic flavors.”
Engaging celebrity chef and Thai Culinary Ambassador Jet Tila curated a unique menu for a traveling pop-up vip restaurant based on his personal memories – along with an informative, entertaining and crystal clear narrative to showcase Thai food, which pairs beautifully with the light Chang Beer.
Chang Beer is compared to Miller’s Lite Beer as opposed to Singha, which is more like a heavier Heineken. Chang Beer thus pairs perfectly with any Thai dish from more delicate to spicy flavored.
Here is Chef Jet’s “Chopped Winner’s” pose.
Meanwhile the gorgeous Thai garnishes were places on the table. We went through all the six limes with our dishes. At our table, we used up all the limes and a couple more on our dishes. Newspaper publisher Boonyakak (Dang) Charoenkitkan explained them all to us.
Chef Jet oversees the kitchen’s first dish, A Night of Yum (deliciousness) with Miang Kham, Stuffed Betel Leaf with palm Sugar Jam. The little leaf is folded into a package and eaten with your hands. Jet also gave the “insider’s” tip of never asking for chopsticks the minute you sit down in a Thai Restaurant – they are only used for noodle dishes.
“The First Dish My Grandma taught Me” turned out to be Nam Prik Ong, Pork Chili Dip, tiny Carrot, Long Beans, Sticky Rice and Chicharron. The exquisite dish highlights each ingredient in the perfect two or three bites – just look at the three brussels sprout leaves!
“Prosperity & Pomelos” was the heading of the Yum Som O, Grapefruit Crispy Rice Salad with Shrimp>. Jet explained that all citrus fruit is popular around the winter new year holiday season because it represents prosperity — so to spotlight this during the holiday or use up leftover citrus as Jet’s family did after the holiday (!) this refreshing salad is perfect. The citrus pomelo also adds the “acidic” or tart to the dish.
From Lampang with Love was the title of the Khao Soi Noodles with Braised Beef and Curry Leaf. Chadaka (Burbank) serves Khao Soi in the form of a curry noodle chicken soup. Chef Jet explained that the ‘khao” referred to chiffonaded rice noodles. It is the “sister” to Ramen noodles. The dish is very much dependent on the fattiness of the noodles so to achieve the closest version to it, Tila uses the egg noodles in the United States. the varied beef is extra tender for this dish, braised to retain its moisture.
“Yum” deliciousness and balance was the title of the Khao Klook Kapi, Shrimp paste Fried Rice with Garnishes. What a little beauty – the delicate additions were pork belly and Chinese sausage. “Who doesn’t want Chinese Sausage on all their dishes,” laughed Jet. Jet also revealed that the famous Thai Temple is now open again.. home to the best mango sticky rice anywhere.
In fact, Jet claimed, “LA has the best Thai food in the United States. New York doesn’t begin to compare to it. They just don’t have the same ingredients (says the son of Bangkok Market!)
The following evening came the Victoria Garden Party in Santa Monica event open to the public, with six vendors, four from one family. Upstairs the VIP Instagram contest winners were treated to Jet Tila’s Memory Menu. All the food was carefully described on huge walls and on the booths themselves.
Chef-owner Supa Kuntee of Chao Krung with our favorite bite – a steamed fish in bamboo leaf.
We took one home! Chef Jet’s staff wrapped one up for us in foil!
Chao Krung also offered homemade Issan Sausage.
Same Same offered Nam Sod Kao Tod, a crispy rice salad with ground pork.
The party was filled with Thai personalities. Above Sereechai Newspaper publisher Boonyalak (Dang) Charoenkitkan and Walaipan (Wendy) Kesthong of the Thai Association of Southern California toast the event in the photo above. Thais love to tell you their nicknames, which say everything about these affectionate party-loving culture. The Jittlada crew toasts in the photo below. Big personality and restaurant mainstay, “Jazz” is on the far right. Jittlada was one of the restaurant starring in the “City of Gold” film this year.
Gala Thai (Noho) with Garlic Lamb Chops
Siamese Garden served Panang Ribs, juicy and flavorful pork.
Everything was well-thought out; even the white booths were special with lovely overhead covers that came to a point and curtains around the sides. From the street (below) you knew there was a party going on!
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