QUESTION: So: Thai desserts. Which I like in theory and everything, but then I end up with bars of translucent green jelly that smell like Mr. Zogs Sex Wax, disturbing little hamburger patties made from coconut and taro, numbingly sweet Thai tacos, gummy bogs of pudding made from rice as black as Tom DeLay’s soul, or yesterday’s fried bananas. Okay, I get it. Mango and sticky rice. Big whoop. Me, I’m looking for a thrill.
—Pam, Arlington Heights
ANSWER: First of all, mango with sticky rice can be one of the world’s greatest desserts when you hit it right — densely fragrant fruit that can remind you of a great, ancient vintage of German Trockenbeerenauslesen, rice gently cooked with freshly expressed coconut milk until each grain is not only coated but saturated with its essence, a sharp lashing of salt that illuminates the various sweetnesses like a burning candle lights up a George de la Tour Madonna. When mangoes are dead ripe (now, more or less), there is nothing on Earth powerful enough to sway us from excursions to such high-quality Thai restaurants as Top Thai in Reseda or Renu Nakorn in Norwalk. The crunchy fried bananas at Rodded Thai in Hollywood have never been the cause of much complaint.
But lately, we’ve been knocked out by the six-packs of snowy-white pudding stacked up by the register at Bhan Kanom Thai, crinkly foil cups layered with an oddly crunchy Prell-green bean junket shot through with minced water chestnuts or something and frosted with oozy, salted coconut milk. Is it enough to make us crave mung-bean desserts in spite of our better judgment? It is, my friend, it is. Bhan Kanom Thai, 5271 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 871-8030.