Don't expect to walk into your neighborhood Thai restaurant and find hung-lay curry — unless, that is, your neighborhood includes the northwest corner of Santa Monica Boulevard and Normandie. This is the location of Spicy BBQ, which specializes in Northern Thai dishes such as hung-lay curry. Unlike the familiar red and green Thai curries, this one contains no coconut milk; the spices hint of India or Malaysia. To make it, you need special hung-lay curry paste and hung-lay curry powder, which are easy to get in places such as Chiang Mai, but not here. Spicy BBQ's cook, Nong, who is from Chiang Mai, goes there every year to buy ingredients. Her golden brown hung-lay curry is slightly sour from Thai tamarind, slightly sweet from palm sugar and spicy from the dried chiles that she brings from Thailand. Sliced fresh ginger and roasted peanuts float in the sauce. The meat is pork. It takes time to make this curry, and Nong prepares a large batch once a week, on her day off. “Everybody like it,” she says. To order, ask for No. 10, listed on the menu as “Northern Thai curry.” You have to read Thai to pick out the words “hung-lay curry,” so maybe just remember the number. 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., E. Hlywd. (323) 663-4211.

—Barbara Hansen

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