17: Green Curry Mussels at Jitlada.
If there is one menu in town that has the best chance of being written about by cultural anthropologists twenty years from now, it's undoubtedly Jitlada's collection of Southern Thai specialities, whose epic range of toxic-smelling curries and fiery salads has become a firm part of L.A. canon.
By now you should know that the word's "Thai Town" and "strip mall" usually mean good things. Jitlada, which these days serves by more celebrities than BOA, is no different. After a plate of coconut mango salad or a plate of marinated raw blue crab, you should probably try the plump New Zealand mussels, stacked shell to shell swimming inside a piping hot metal bowl.
At the bottom is a green, slightly clear broth, thin as chicken soup broth and heavily scented with bundles of lemongrass and bright chiles. As massive and succulent as the mussels are -- some of the bigger ones resemble swollen thumbs -- the most pleasurable part is sipping up the spoonfuls of the increasingly complex and spicy green "jungle" curry flavored with everything from pineapple to a type of Thai ginger called galangal. It's a broth that has few rivals in town -- as soothing as the finest French bouillabaisse but struck with the electrically-charged flavors of Bangkok.
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