The green papaya salad called som tam is my preferred litmus test for judging Thai restaurants. When done right, the shredded papaya is crisp and the sauce is tangy and light, and not overpowering in terms of heat or fish sauce. When I ordered som tam the other night at May Thai the waitress asked “How hot?”
Though the term "escabeche" formally refers to pickled fish in Spanish cooking, to us Americans, it's the stuff of plastic bags. In L.A., a taco truck is generally considered remiss if they don't hand out big, glowing orbs of free escabeche—spicy carrot, pickled jalapeños and sweetly spiced white onion mingling in their combined brine, precariously pressing a baggie to its limits.
At some point down the line Thai food became synonymous with comfort food for me. It was my family’s favorite dining out cuisine when I was young, and now I have a lot of good nostalgia wrapped up in the smell of lemongrass and curry. Tom kha gai, papaya salad and pad see ew are my go-to orders when I’m sick or just craving something warming and familiar, so I’ve visited most of the Thai spots in town to find some of my favorites of each. That GrubHub bill is getting a little out of control at this point, honestly.
Here’s a few of my favorite spots to order Thai in the Duke City. May they bring you many spicy tears and great evenings.