Jitlada: I’m Crying but I’m Happy
Restaurant news and sometimes hype buzz around my head like bees. The Jitlada bee started swarming a few years ago but I can dodge ’em like the best of them. Still, it was flying around and eventually, its number was up.
I visited Jitlada for the first time with my noodles partner, Jenny B last September. She agreed that we shouldn’t order anything from the “mundane” menu and would order from the Southern Thai menu. She has previously gone and didn’t think much of it because of the “mundane” menu. But the bee had done its job, I knew exactly what to order and though I’m prone to not revere spicy food, I was destined to go down a spicy path.
We started with the crispy morning glory salad which was super fresh and had some tasty shrimp in it. I would definitely order this again.
At “other” Thai places, I tend to order green papaya salad, pad thai, penang curry and angel wings. My friends know I’m not fond of Thai food but these are the things I will eat. Then how can I say I hate* Thai food when confronted with a revved up version of my fave green papaya salad?
The blue crab papaya salad was great. It was a treasure hunt to find all the bits of blue crab which went well with the crunchy papaya strips, julienned to the exact width I like. Some Thai places tend to cut the strips a little too thinly for my taste but I loved it at Jitlada.
We had heard the mussels were the item to get but there were several mussels dishes and so we consulted with our server who brought us this soup. My mouth was starting to go a bit numb from the earlier salads but blazed to life with the spice in this soup. I started to long for plain white rice to take the sting away. The mussels themselves were plump and not a bad one in the batch.
Jazz, the owner of Jitlada, brought this dish out herself. She mentioned how much she loved peppercorn which a whole branch can been seen snaking its way around the flavorful pork and pungent sabor beans. Jenny wrinkled her nose a bit at the beans but I ate them. Now I know why some people like bitter flavors, it makes the pork so much sweeter.
By the end of the meal, I was crying from the spice level but I was really happy. Or loopy from the spice. I don’t know but it was a good thing.
If there were more of us, we would have sampled more but our bellies gave in and I vowed I’d be back. Or else that darn bee is going to start swarming again.
All photographs are by the most wonderful noodles partner, Jenny B.
** I don’t really hate Thai food. I just developed an aversion to greasy Thai-Chinese food ordered late at night in college. It took years of serious Thai food therapy to get to the point where I have favorite Thai reastaurants like Jitlada.