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Ask Mr. Gold 

Thursday, May 1 2003
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question: You’ve written more than once about the southern Thai cooking at Satang, in Panorama City. But when I drove there last week, it looked to be geared just for takeout, and the person behind the counter denied any knowledge of southern Thai dishes at all.

—Christine, Valley Village

answer: Satang is indeed one of many, many Thai restaurants near North Hollywood’s big Buddhist temple, and it does look like any other mini-mall place, with a bunch of neighborhood dudes pounding cashew chicken and beer. And to look at the menu, you might never guess that there was a minor subspecialty in the ultra-exotic cuisine of southern Thailand. The section of the menu listing southern dishes, for example, is completely untranslated. But if you ask around, somebody will walk you through the four or five southern dishes that happen to be on hand at the moment — perhaps a peppery vegetable soup flavored with dried shrimp, or an awesomely hot curry of fish and fresh bamboo shoots that is completely delicious but smells a little like somebody forgot to take out the trash.

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My favorite is a sort of sweet salad of rice, fresh vegetables, toasted coconut and dried shrimp that you toss together yourself with a bit of dark, sweet soy. But you’ve got to try the sautéed sataw beans, a heaping helping, with ground meat and lots of red chile. Sataw, the fabled Thai stinky bean, may smell like a bad day at the morgue, but it tastes like the sort of lima beans that God probably had in mind. 8247 Woodman Ave., Van Nuys, (818) 989-5637.

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