I truly enjoy Thai cuisine because it’s full of intense flavors and because it’s generally healthier than many other cuisines. There are a couple of Thai restaurants in the South Bay that I look forward to visiting, but for a long time, I’ve had the desire to explore Thai town and other restaurants outside the South Bay. The Thai Food Festival gave me that opportunity in one stop.
Celebrity chef Jet Tila and the Thai Trade Center hosted the first annual Thai Food Festival on the Paramount Studios lot. The fact that many top name chefs were on hand for this event reaffirmed my belief that Thai food is extremely relevant. Attention was paid to the origin of each dish as each vendor had signage depicting the respective region where the dish was derived.
The first dish I experienced was the BBQ pork and dry curry chicken with rice from Jitlada. It was sweeter and more tender than Chinese BBQ pork and for that, I went back for seconds.
Executive Chef and Owner, Sang Yoon of Lukshon, was on hand to personally supervise the preparation of his dish and to answer questions. Lukshon served “Reinvented Thai beef salad” using smoked beef tongue, crispy tomato and cucumber lettuce soup. Ayara Thai served a traditional Thai street food dish called miang kham. Ayara Thai’s version consisted of crab meat, poached prawns, with cold grapefruit dressed with palm syrup on fresh betel leaves. I appreciated the contrast in flavors and this was my favorite offering of the entire event.
James Beard award winner, Andy Ricker, from Pok Pok in Portland Oregon, served ’Suki Haeng,’ Thai stir-fried glass noodles with napa cabbage, sprouts, spinach, Chinese celery, tofu, and eggs, with a chile-bean curd sukiyaki sauce. Susan Feniger was on hand to personally hand out her version of kaho gee. This was a ball shaped sticky rice fritter with green sriracha aioli and filled with curried chicken. Thai Nakorn represented Orange County with their yum nua beef salad. This was a Northeastern Thai version of the salad. I enjoyed the different textures, spices and tanginess.
Two women demonstrated the fine art of fruit carving. They sat behind a colorful fruit carving display where watermelons were turned into stunning floral bouquets.
The event culminated with a panel discussion featuring Curtis Stone (celebrity chef from Australia), Andy Ricker (Pok Pok), Kris Yenbamroong (Night + Market) and David Lefevre (MB Post and Fishing with Dynamite). It was particularly interesting to hear Andy Ricker talk about the various ways to prepare larb. He stated that there is no perfect way to prepare the dish as each region of Thailand has their own variation.
I hope to return to the event next year. I appreciated having access to the chefs and being able to converse with them. In the end, it always comes down to the food.