Where the Chefs Eat is an ongoing series in which we ask a local chef to give us his or her favorite dining options. This week, we check in with Jet Tila, chef at The Charleston and Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine.
Chef Jet Tila has made quite a name for himself introducing people to the cuisine of his ancestry. Apart from recently being named Culinary Ambassador of Thai Cuisine by the Royal Thai Consul General in Los Angeles, he also hosts "Melting Pot Food Tours" of L.A.'s Thai Town. Recently he was kind enough to give us details on a few spots he really likes to eat during his down time.
3. Robata Jinya
"People knock the ramen here, and ramen is a personal thing. But this is where I like to eat ramen. I get the tonkotsu black ramen with black pork and toasted sesame."
"I was born and raised in L.A., and I grew up eating at [now closed] Golden Bird. Their fried chicken was so good and crispy, it was almost like it was twice-dipped. To me, Honey's Kettle is the chicken that comes closest to that memory."
"I think this is the best Northern Thai restaurant in the Western U.S. It's tiny -- maybe 11 or 12 seats. They have two types of khao soi, but I almost think at this place you need to look beyond khao soi. They have nam prik oom, which is basically like a spicy marinara made from roasted and stewed tomatoes with chili and ground pork. You eat it as a dip. Most people are used to laab made with lime juice and fish sauce, but Northern Thai laab is made with ground pork and ground pork offal -- and no lime juice, just fish sauce.
"The woman who owns it, Nong, has one helper, and they cook out of a kitchen that's probably 200 square feet. When they opened, no one knew about regional Thai food, so they called it Spicy BBQ to take advantage of the Thai barbecue trend at the time. So a lot of people walk in there and order ridiculous things like Thai barbecue chicken."