Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
48: Papaya Salad at Krua Siri.
It's 3 a.m. on a Saturday night -- Sunday morning, really -- do you know where your papaya salad is? Krua Siri, a small pill-box of a restaurant located in the Eastern stretch of Thai town, might be best known among certain Hollywood residents as the place that delivers until the wee hours of the morning every day of the week.
For others, it is better known as a headquarters for intensely flavorful Northern Thai cuisine. These people are right -- if you avoid bland pitfalls like teriyaki salmon or orange chicken, and instead ask your server to steer you towards the special (previously untranslated) Issan-style menu, your prescience will be rewarded with fragrant curries, four-day fermented sausage, and a potent laab salad made with crispy bits of skin duck skin and toasted rice.
Our favorite is the som tum, a bright crunchy mixture of unripened green papaya dressed with lime juice, fish sauce, and a blazing handful of dried pulverized bird's eye chiles. What sets this version apart, aside from its formidable funky tartness, is the translucent slivers of raw, slightly cured shrimp bobbing in the jade-colored liquid like Mexican aguachile.
The aroma of low-tide and citrus is enough to inspire tropical fever dreams, especially when the kitchen can be persuaded into tossing in a bit of raw blue crab. Did we mention you can have this delivered at 3 a.m.? When something as exotic and revelatory as this dish is available around time the the east coast feed of Morning Joe comes on MSNBC, it should, and does, boggle the mind.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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