Sri Siam Depresses Me With Its Awesomeness
I’ve been in L.A. only two weeks now and I have to admit I am completely overwhelmed. Seriously. How do you people do it? With so many amazing and diverse neighborhoods, serving up interesting under $10 lunches, deciding where to eat every day is completely daunting. No matter where you work, you can travel five minutes in any direction and find some strange deliciousness… and it’s no easy task trying to keep up with it. My wife reminded me that I felt the same way when we moved from L.A. to Manhattan, and while that time and place seems like a distant memory, I vaguely remember that being my motivation for starting Midtown Lunch.
I guess what I’m trying to convince myself is this feeling of vertigo is familiar, and eventually it will pass (at least that is what I’m going to keep telling myself!) The problem is I keep eating at places like Sri Siam! The recommendations keep pouring in, each one better than the next, and while some people would take joy in finding a great new spot for lunch- I kind of find it depressing. How many Sri Siams are there out there, and how will I find the time to eat at all of them!? And most importantly how am I supposed to find time to eat at Sri Siam again! And make no mistake about it… I really want to eat there again.
Sri Siam isn’t actually as random as it would seem to the casual passerby. It is part of a well-known-in-some-circles mini-Thai Town happening around the intersection of Coldwater and Sherman Way. Profiled L.A. Lunch’er Pat wrote about it in 2007 on her blog Eating L.A., Jo from My Last Bite has posted about it multiple times, and obviously “The Guru” was there before everybody. But I personally owe this discovery to Josh from Food GPS, who invited me to lunch at Sri Siam last week… and did the ordering as well.
Like most menus at good Thai restaurants, it’s best to skip past the “lunch specials” and familiar sounding Thai dishes (check you later pad thai!) and head right to the chef’s specialties. Like Spicy BBQ, Sri Siam’s specialties are from the North and can be found in the back of the menu along with photos- but ironically enough the giant photos (which I always assumed were for white people) had Thai titles, rendering them completely useless! (Unless you just wanted to point your order.)
After my Spicy BBQ khao soi introduction to the world of L.A. Lunch’ing, we obviously had to try Sri Siam’s version. It didn’t have quite the same pop as the one at Spicy BBQ (the description did say it was made from curry “powder”), but it was still a great dish- and far better than any of the watered down versions I found in NYC.
What didn’t lack any pop was their “House Special” larb ($8.95), which replaces the standard pork with ground duck leg. The perfect amount of heat… the tang of the lime juice… the sticky rice chaser (to dull the heat.) Delicious!
But my favorite dish was the chef’s special “Crispy Rice Salad” ($6.95), which you can get with chicken or thai sour sausage (uh… is that supposed to be a hard decision?) Like nothing I’ve ever eaten before, the consistency was almost like rice crispies if you sauteed them with sausage and ginger and onions. In other words, it was the best bowl of breakfast cereal I’ve ever had. The crispiness of the rice mixed with that sour flavor of the sausage is not a taste I will soon forget.
What was Josh’s take on the meal? It’s posted here on FoodGPS, and his closing thoughts are pretty much the same as mine. Is this the best Thai spot in L.A.? Not necessarily, but if you work in North Hollywood or Studio City or even Burbank (134 to the 170, or Victory to Coldwater) you’re just 15 mins away from a pretty amazing lunch.
- Sour sausage + rice crispies = Big Smile
- They make a version of larb with duck! How badass is that?
- Good heat in some of the dishes, but not unbearable
- The best version of Khao soi you’re going to find in this area…
- I could use a bit more heat…
- Spicy BBQ makes a far better Khao soi
Sri Siam Cafe, 12843 Vanowen St. (at Coldwater), 818-982-6161