The ethnic food in Los Angeles is always excellent, which is why I was especially excited to have lunch at Jitlada, a Thai restaurant in East Hollywood that was a favorite of late food critic Jonathan Gold and was described by Bon Appetit as having the best Thai food in LA and likely the whole country. As we drove through East Hollywood and into the heart of Thai Town, I grew more excited as I saw the colorful, foreign-language signs dot the boulevard. This was going to be an authentic experience with nothing watered down, explosive fireworks of heat and flavors at every turn.
The actual outcome? There were legitimate fireworks with one dish, the taepo chicken curry in particular. The bite started out innocuously enough, but then the burn would gradually build and linger long enough for several cups of water and frantic bites of white rice to do you no good. It’s a dish that left an impact in all sorts of ways and I would probably order it again, even if it means enduring the pain again.
The pad thai, on the other hand…the fact that I even ordered it was probably a set up for disappointment. But I figured the one at the arguably best Thai restaurant in the country was probably going to be the best pad thai in the country. Which was why I was surprised by the unspectacular sauce that tasted like ketchup. The pad thai noodles at Uncle Boons Sister are 10x better.
The legendary, bunless Jazz burger, which is an off-menu item, was certainly tasty. The combination of sweet, spicy and savory flavors were reminiscent of a Hawaiian or an Aussie burger. But was it really something that would “change me”, as the Infatuation said it would? Not really. I would not even think twice about choosing the burger at Pizza Loves Emily or at 4 Charles Prime Ribs over this one. The only thing I remember about the crispy catfish salad was that it took up space in an inoffensive way like an extra bread roll or those slices of ginger next to your sushi.
I expected more from the best Thai restaurant in the country. Sure, that addendum itself could have been an exaggeration, but I found it hard to believe that this was even the best Thai in the city. It may be one of those things where Jitlada was ahead of its time when it was first discovered to acclaim, but since then other places have caught up and even pulled ahead. That’s not to say that you won’t have a solid meal that’s better than your average takeout place, but it’s probably best to lower your expectations a bit ahead of time.
5233 Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA 90027