The rules of D.I.Y. Food Mashups are simple: Pair two dishes from two distinct restaurants located less than a half mile apart and then sample the subsequent mishmash of cuisines, for better or worse.
In a crowded strip mall in East Hollywood, literally next door to one another, are Falafel Arax and Spicy Thai BBQ. The diversity of this particular neighborhood has led to many odd pairings over the years, but in the case of these two opposing eateries few are as skilled in their respective fields.
So, as much we would like to tell you that the idea for the Thai pork patty lebni sandwich arose from some chocolate and peanut butter style collision a lá Reese's, the development was much more pragmatic. We love Falafex Arax's lebni sandwich, a crisp Panini smeared with thick yogurt, olives, dried mint and tomato, the kind of sandwich that would cost double (or triple) in some posh Mediterranean café across town. We also love Spicy BBQ for their heavily seasoned Northern Thai dishes, one such being their lap thawt, fiery fried pork patties that look like something Farmer John would come up with if he spent a few years floating along the Mekong Delta.
One fateful night, while feeling particularly indecisive, we popped into both establishments and ordered one of each dish to-go. Sitting side-by-side in their separate Styrofoam containers the pairing became an epiphany: one is a sandwich without meat, and the other is meat without out a sandwich. Stuff the pork patties into the sandwich, along with a handful of cabbage, and you arrive with something that resembles a hefty meatball sub, if only in appearance.
In perfect harmony, the creamy yogurt serves to cool the heat from the pork patty while the mint mixed into the lebni matches the deep-fried Thai herbs that sit atop the juicy ground pork. It's a combination that even a staunch traditionalist would find appealing. Granted, the whole thing was a bit unwieldy, but is that how a great sub is supposed to be?
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In conclusion, we give the pork patty lebni sandwich a resounding thumbs up, if only for its ability unite two seemingly incompatible cuisines into one compact meal.