Tag Archives: curry

The 900 Degree Oven

Gangadin, MyLastBite.comMy favorite Indian restaurant is currently featured on the cover of “Studio City Lifestyle” magazine. I wish I could find an online version of it, so I could share the entire article with everyone, but here’s a paragraph from the cover story printed on page four.

Gangadin Indian Cuisine is owned by Manmeet Singh Sahni and family. Manmeet takes pride in serving home style cooking. Every dish is cooked from scratch with no MSG, preservatives or animal fat added. “We specialize in outstanding, flavorful Indian Punjabi cuisine,” says Manmeet, “including homemade and exotic curries, fresh baked breads from the hot tandoor and meats marinated in delicate spices and herbs.”

Peter and I have been regulars at Gangadin for years, and we even served their food at our wedding back in 1996. Our favorite dishes include: Chicken Korma (tender pieces of marinated chicken, spices, onions, yogurt, and assorted nuts), Saag Paneer (cubes of homemade cheese, spinach and spices), Chicken Tikka (boneless chicken marinated in homemade yogurt and spices, grilled in the tandoor) and the most flavorful Garlic Naan bread (garnished with freshly chopped garlic and also baked in the tandoor).

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.comLast week we stopped in for dinner with David Gussin (executive sous chef at Akasha) and his roommate, Dan. It was their very first visit to Gangadin and we were so pleased that they loved the food as much as we do.

After dinner, owner Manmeet and his son Sangmeet let us check out the tandoor clay oven in the restaurant kitchen. It’s amazing how quickly the naan bread bubbles up and cooks along the super-heated oven wall.

I’ve never made Naan bread at home but definitely plan on trying it soon. While researching various recipes, I came across a great “Learn To Make Naan Bread” video by Manjula Jain (link below).

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Photos: Naan being made in the 900 degree tandoor

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com
Gangadin Chef Kamaljeet Singh making the naan

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com

Gangadin Indian Cuisine
12067 Ventura Place
Studio City Ca 91604
818-509-0722

Website (with menu)

More Gangadin

Video: Naan Bread Recipe by Manjula

Manjula’s Kitchen

Related:

Anyajit: A Chef in the Making

India Sweets & Spices

Gangadin on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Little Bites

Jitlada

My husband Peter had “Good Friday” off last week and we did something we RARELY ever do together… we decided to go out to lunch.

Peter almost never takes lunch at work because he feels like it’s a waste of time (classic workaholic), unless it’s a business meeting of course. Not eating during the day, ensures that he comes home hungry for dinner, which means he ALWAYS likes what I make. The truth is, I can get a little cranky when he doesn’t love my cooking, so this “no lunch at the office” system works well for both of us.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.comJitlada Thai Restaurant has been on our “to do” list since last summer, when I first read about it in the July issue of Gourmet magazine. It’s a favorite spot of our friend Jeffrey, who has eaten at even the best Thai restaurants in Thailand. We hoped we could get Jeffrey to join us for lunch, but he couldn’t make it.

I also emailed my food blogger pal, SinoSoul. He loves Jitlada so much that he hosts dinners there, gathering food lovers to experience the authentic, Southern Thai (meaning extremely SPICY) dishes together. He’s invited me to an upcoming Jitlada dinner, but when I read about the extremely painful aftermath of the last gathering, I feared that I may not be able to take the heat.

SinoSoul wrote:
How does previous night’s dinner make you late to work the next morning? When you must explode with something fancy in the toilet. But hot damn the Southern Thai food was good on the way in.

I then clicked on a few other Jitlada blog links and thought FoodMarathon’s was particularly alarming:
I woke up this morning with a black tongue and my stomach precariously balanced between the volatile states of seizure and bleeding.

My apologies if the above offended you, but it’s the reason that I recently became a tiny bit fearful of Jitlada. I LOVE spicy food and can take it pretty, darn hot. Jalapeños are like cucumbers to me, and I add whole habañeros (seeds and all) to my eggs for breakfast. But I’ve never felt like I needed to visit the emergency room the next morning. Obviously Jitlada is a whole new, fiery experience.

So before I attend SinoSoul’s upcoming dinner, I hoped to at least get to Jitlada for lunch, and take sort of a test run. Good Friday turned out to be the perfect opportunity for Peter and I to try it together. SinoSoul wasn’t able to join us for lunch either, but thankfully he did email a list of dishes we should try. The menu is extensive and can seem very confusing if it’s your first visit, so it’s imperative that you do your research before you go.

Peter and I arrived a few minutes before they opened for lunch and were greeted by the lovely and charming, Sugar. She sat us in the second dining room next to the window and quickly took our drink order. I think she was a little shocked that we ordered Singa beer before noon… but heck, it was a holiday after all!

The menu was incredible and we would have been so LOST if SinoSoul hadn’t sent a list. When Sugar came to deliver our beers, she introduced us to her father Tui Sungkamee, who also happens to be the chef. We chatted for awhile then I handed them the printed list of items we would be ordering. It was fun to watch them carefully go over the dishes we wanted… Chef Tui double-checking the English-to-Thai translation with his daughter.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.comOur lunch was OUTSTANDING, and if you haven’t been to Jitlada Thai yet (or lately), you should make the time to go now. We didn’t ask for extra spice on any of the dishes, but most carried a substantial amount of heat. Nothing painful though, just a wonderful, warm, and incredibly flavorful rush. I knew that I could take it much, much hotter, so I felt a great sense of relief.

I’m really looking forward to SinoSoul’s Jitlada dinner now. First of all, he’s promised that he won’t intentionally try to scorch my palate, and second of all… I’m certain that I’ll have chef Tui and sweet Sugar watching over me. With over 300 items available (they don’t all fit on the menu), you can bet I’ll be returning again and again!

What we ate (and loved):

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Kung Phae Chup Khreuang Thawt : Deep-fried Shrimp with Crispy Tea Leaves

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Sup Hang Wua : Mild, Southern Thai-style Oxtail Soup

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Kaeng Hawy Bai Cha-Phluu : Spicy, Turmeric-seasoned Curry with Baby Clam and Wild Tea Leaves

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Fish ball Stuffed with Salted Duck Egg in Green Curry.

Note: I mistakenly labeled above photo “Curry w/ Baby Clam & Wild Tea Leaves” on Foodgawker.

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Coconut Mango Salad (recommended by Sugar)

Jitlada Thai, MyLastBite.com
Obey the sign! It’s SO WORTH IT!

All my favorite Jitlada dishes (so far) on Flickr

Jitlada
5233 1/2 W. Sunset Blvd
Los Angeles, CA
(323) 663-3104
Website

Dining Date: 4/10/09

Mentioned Above:

Peter

SinoSoul

Gourmet Magazine

Jitlada article excerpt from Gourmet:
“Then, in 2006, the restaurant changed hands again. The new owners were Sarintip “Jazz” Singsanong and her brother Suthiporn “Tui” Sungkamee, two of 12 siblings from the ancient province of Nakhon Si Thammarat, in southern Thailand, near the Malaysian border—also the home province, coincidentally, of Jitlada’s previous owners. Singsanong, the first of her family to immigrate to the U.S.—she arrived in 1979 with the proverbial (as she says) “two hundred dollars and one suitcase”—had studied hotel management in Bangkok. She enrolled at L.A. City College to learn English and found part-time jobs in local restaurants before landing a job at the Biltmore Hotel. Little by little, she brought her family over, and she and Tui, who owned four restaurants in Thailand, began working with another brother, John, at a Thai restaurant in Westwood called Emporium, which is still in business. “We couldn’t really do authentic home cooking there,” says Singsanong, “because our customers didn’t like things too spicy.” Her dream was to have a restaurant that could and that would offer Tui a showcase for his talents. When Jitlada became available, they took it over.” Full Article
here

Jitlada’s Dynamite Challenge

More Links:

L.A. Times Review of Jitlada

Jonathan Gold

Food Marathon

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Filed under Eating Out

Sri Siam Café [1 & 2]

Twenty years ago when I lived in San Diego, my ex-husband and I loved eating at Karinya Thai Cuisine. The restaurant was up the street from our home in Pacific Beach, and it was our “go to” dinner place when we entertained visiting family and friends. We usually requested to eat in the “traditional” dining room . This meant we had to remove our shoes before going in, and sit on the floor atop beautiful Thai triangle pillows.

Karinya Thai, MyLastBite.com

The head chef (an American) had married into the Karinya Thai family. Since we were regulars, the chef always took a few moments to tell us wonderful tales of his trips to the Far East. One of the best was about the first time he visited his wife’s family in a remote village in Thailand. He was shocked at the amount of time it took to shop for groceries each day. The entire family, led by the grandmother, would get up very early and drive for hours to pick up a particular type of chili, then go a couple of hours in the opposite direction to buy some galangal, and finally another hour south to pick up fresh kaffir lime leaves. By the time the shopping was done, they had driven five or six hours to get ingredients for THAT evening’s dinner. I found it fascinating that each ingredient was so special and distinct, that it was worth all that time and trouble.

Jo & Spencer, MyLastBite.comThe first time we invited our buddy Spencer (who was like a second grandfather to me), he laughed when he learned he had to remove his shoes for dinner. And after that first meal at Karinya, anytime we’d make dinner plans with ol’ Spence, he would ask “Are we going to the ‘shoeless place’? …if so, I’ll have to check my socks for holes”.

Two of my favorite dishes at Karinya were the “Gai Rad Prik” (they prepared it with deep-fried chicken covered in a super-spicy chili sauce) and “Shrimp Sarong” (shrimp wrapped with egg noodles, deep-fried and served with a sweet and spicy chili dip).

From my research, it looks like the original owners of Karinya sold the business in 1998. I moved to Studio City in 1994 and halfheartedly tried to find a new Thai restaurant near me (in the San Fernando Valley) to love, but nothing tasted as good or seemed as authentic as Karinya. There were no “foodie” sites on the New World Wide Web way back then, so I had pretty much given up on finding a Thai place I could call my own.

Then on January 1, 2009 I had lunch at Sri Siam Café. Peter (my husband) and I met up with our far-east-food-expert friend Jeffrey, for an incredible, unforgettable New Year’s Day Lunch. Jeffrey is a regular at Sri Siam and has not only eaten at all the best Thai places in Los Angeles but all the best Thai places in Thailand.

The best part about Sri Siam Café (besides the outstanding food) is that I won’t be pining for Karinya any longer. I can finally move on… and luckily for me… my new Thai joint is literally just up the street!

My Favorite Bites at Sri Siam Café:

Fried Fish Cake, MyLastBite.com
Fried Fish Cake : Ground fish and green bean patties, seasoned with curry paste then deep-fried. It’s served with a delicious cucumber relish. $6.95

For me, the fish cakes were just a vehicle for the relish. I ended up just spooning it out and eating it like gazpacho!

Apple Trout, MyLastBite.com
Apple Trout: Fried trout fillet served with green apple salad. $18.95

Green Apple Salad, MyLastBite.com
Green Apple Salad.
Apple Trout Tail, MyLastBite.com
Apple Trout Tail.

O-Lou, MyLastBite.com
O-Lou: Omelet stuffed with shrimp and topped with sprouts. $7.95
O-Lou, MyLastBite.com
O-Lou: Omelet (close up).

Soft Shell Crab, MyLastBite.com
Soft Shell Crab in Green Curry Sauce: Served with asparagus. $18.95

Beef Ball Soup, MyLastBite.com
Beef Ball Noodle Soup: Rice noodle soup with beef ball (meatball), bean sprouts and green onion. $5.00

House Special Menu, MyLastBite.com
Menu: The House Specialties in English

Thai Boba Tea, MyLastBite.com
Thai Boba Tea. The perfect way to cool off a spicy tongue!

Update: 1/8/09  (Visit #2)
This morning my ex-husband Perry called from Santa Monica airport. He and his co-pilot John asked if I wanted to join them for lunch. They fly a private business jet and had a five hour layover, so I grabbed my friend Laur and we met them at Sri Siam!

I wrote (above) that twenty years ago, one of our favorite dishes from our old Thai restaurant in Pacific Beach was “Shrimp Sarong”, and that’s the first thing Perry ordered today. They were exactly the same to me, except Sri Siam calls them “Crispy Shrimps”.

It was sort of a sentimental moment for me. Sitting there with Perry eating a wonderful old favorite and talking about our families. He and his wife Karen have two beautiful kids, and I feel so grateful that we can still be in each others lives, especially when it’s over a plate of delicious food!

Before I left for lunch I sent my husband Peter a text message, to let him know I was meeting Perry at Sri Siam. Peter sent the following message back: “Well, just so you know, I’m really JEALOUS… really jealous that I’m missing the food! Say hi to Perry.“…

I know… lucky me.

My two favorite dishes from lunch today:
Crispy Rice Salad, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Rice Salad Thai sour sausage mixed with crispy rice, roasted peanut, ginger and green onion. I LOVED the spiciness of this dish.

Crispy Shrimps, MyLastBite.com
Crispy Shrimps Shrimp mixed with light soy sauce wrapped with egg noodle.

Sri Siam Cafe, MyLastBite.com

Visit #3 to Sri Siam (with new photos)

Sri Siam Café
12843  Vanowen St.
North Hollywood, CA 91605
818 892-6262

All my Sri Siam Photos on Flickr

Sri Siam Café  Website

Sri Siam Cafe on Urbanspoon

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Filed under Eating Out, Food Stories (written by me)

Gangadin Indian Restaurant

My husband and I love Indian food and our favorite Indian restaurant is Gangadin in Studio City. We like it so much that when we were married in 1996, we had Gangadin cater our wedding dinner. 

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.comAll these years later, we still like to order the same dishes we shared at our Indian “wedding feast”. Of course we try new ones every now and then, but when we feel like some comforting curry goodness, we always get the following:

Onion Pakoras – Shredded onions, dredged in spiced gram flour and deep-fried.

Papadum – Spiced crispy Indian crackers baked on an open flame.

Raita – Perfect to cool off your spicy mouth. Wonderfully refreshing yogurt blended with cucumbers, spices and tomatoes.

Mango Chutney – A wonderful, tart and sweet condiment that you order separately.

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com

Chicken Tikka – Chunks of boneless chicken marinated in spices and yogurt and then grilled over the Tandoor flames.

Garlic Naan – Fluffy garlic naan bread that’s baked in a traditional Tandoor oven. (We each have to have our own!)

Saag Paneer – Small chunks of cheese  in a delicious spinach mixture. You can ask for this dish extra spicy if you want. Note: If you are sure that you can handle the heat, then tell them to make it “traditional spicy”.

Gangadin Restaurant, MyLastBite.com

Chicken Korma – This is our favorite dish at Gangadin. It’s a mild curry flavor, marinated chicken. You can ask for it spicy, but beware… it’s REALLY spicy!

Rice Pudding – Super sweet, but a really nice finish to a spicy Indian dinner. The pistachio chips on top add great texture to the pudding.

Kingfisher Beer – For me, an Indian meal is not complete without drinking one or two (or sometimes three!) Kingfisher beers.

Gangadin Restaurant
12067 Ventura Place
Studio City Ca 91604
818-509-0722
WebSite

Lunch at Gangadin

Check out Gangadin owners Manmeet (right) and his son Sangmeet on the cover of Studio City Lifestyle Magazine. They are always so friendly when we eat at their restaurant.

Gangadin, MyLastBite.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Gangadin!

Gangadin on Urbanspoon

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