Lacha somtum

I posted a brief write-up of two meals at Lacha Somtum on my blog today. I began by noting that interest in it seems to have waned somewhat since it opened, and lo and behold there doesn’t appear to have been any but passing mention of it on Food Talk Central. Are people still eating there and just not talking about it? Or is this another case of a solid place being completely passed over in favour of newer ones?

Anyway, some highlights from our two meals included the duck larb, the bamboo shoot salad, the deep fried trout, the papaya salad and the mussels-pancake thing. The tom saab is interestingly different from the version at Isaan Station (less funky) but quite good in its own right. I know nothing about Isaan food so can’t opine on whether this reflects the variations in how its prepared, though I rather expect it does.

Writeup with pictures here for those who care to look: http://myannoyingopinions.com/2016/01/19/lacha-somtum/

It’s being passed over because it’s boring for the most part, or else just not good enough to compete. Your own post ends by saying people ought to go to Luv2Eat, Isaan Station, and Jitlada first. Even the standout dishes sound quite boring in comparison to the exciting dishes at those places.

When I went, I thought it was not worth returning to. The fish kidney curry had no flavor, just obscene heat, and everything else fell so flat I can barely remember it, even the supposedly super funky “kitchen sink” tom sum I ordered.

shrugs I guess YMMV

As always, awesome write up. I hope Delhi is treating you well. Are you finding the culinary scene to be pretty approachable? I have (admittedly irrational) fears that finding and eating at the good restaurants would be very difficult. Or are you sticking to the acclaimed mall and hotel places?

I think you answered your own question. It’s just slightly below the other places and more difficult to get to… There are different variations of tom saabs and what not, but I find the sour and the heat of Isaan Station more enjoyable than the tom saabs at most other Isaan places. At the same time, it’s pretty reflective of the LA Thai scene that a place like Lacha Somtum is not absolutely celebrated. I guarantee if it was in Portland or even NYC, it would be heralded as the second coming…

this is the kind of place i’d love to go to if it didn’t involve over an hour of driving each way for me.

it is plopped in the middle of some of it’s most formidable competitors.

Well, I’m from Delhi and have lots of friends who live here who are into food so it’s not hard for me to find my way around. The 5-Star hotel restaurant scene is now somewhat passé (though we have eaten at one and will be eating at another soon on this trip)–the big exception being Indian Accent (which is about to open in New York). If you haven’t seen my writeup of it, I think you might enjoy it (this is from 2 years ago): http://myannoyingopinions.com/2014/02/19/indian-accent/

Apart from a few places in malls the interesting places are clustered in neighbourhoods like Hauz Khas Village (a goddamned hellhole at night) and Shahpur Jat and the vicinity. For my money, the best restaurant in Delhi, and perhaps the most important, is Cafe Lota at the Crafts Museum. Just got back from an excellent lunch there that I’ll write up next week but you can read my extensive writeup of it from our last trip (which was just a few months after it opened): http://myannoyingopinions.com/2014/02/25/cafe-lota/

Sorry for the thread drift: I do have some thoughts to contribute on topic as well but I have to take a nap!

Back on topic as threatened: I do think that in L.A. you’re spoiled for good Thai food but I’m not sure that quite explains the speed with which some places seem to rise and fall in esteem. Less than two years ago Tony C. proclaimed Lacha Somtum the most exciting thing to have happened in Thai Town for a while (I’m paraphrasing from memory, please forgive if I’m distorting). Now no one talks about it and “it’s boring for the most part”. Okay, so newer places opened up that are better for some/many things: your Isaan Kitchens and your Luv2Eats. But did Lacha Somtum itself become any worse? Are there really so many Isaan restaurants? Is everything they do replicated in better form in those newer restaurants? If so, maybe I missed where all that was delineated (I would expect there have been to be more talk for such a rapid fall, if it happened). If not, I don’t understand why everyone would stop eating there completely (or stop talking about eating there completely) unless it’s because there’s too much weight placed on being current and people can only find time to be excited about one Thai restaurant at a time (or something along those lines).

I invite you all to now pour coals on my head.

(Back off topic: I’m slowly putting up reviews of the Delhi restaurants we’re eating at on my blog. I’m not sure how much interest there is on FTC for this stuff—please let me know if you’d like me to continue to post links in the Asia forum here; only Porthos seems to have read my writeup of the Naga restaurant.)

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Well, to be exact I recommended those restaurants first to people with limited eating time in L.A. For anyone with more time or anyone who lives in L.A. and is interested in Thai food I would say eat at as many of the good places as you can, not just at the few that are currently deemed to be the latest/greatest. I guess I’m not much motivated by that competitive mode of eating out or by the desire to eat only “exciting” foods.

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I think you’ve nailed it. “New toy syndrome.” The SGV is full of solid places that suffer from this. I live about an hour away from Thai Town and I’d have no problem eating regularly at LAcha Somtum. Perhaps Isaan Station is closer or more convenient to some of its bigger boosters and that gives it the edge for them?

When it opened the menu was far more ambitious, where else could you get balut jungle curry or ant egg salad?

Unfortunately those things didn’t sell well and the menu was pared down when I went back for a 2nd visit a few months after opening. It’s decent Thai food with a few ok Isaan specialties but I’d rather go to Isaan Station or Luv2Eat because of easier parking and better quality. Lacha had some unique dishes which were worth going for alone at first but with the pared down menu there was nothing that made it unique anymore.

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Why do I feel like this was a bit my fault? (o wait my name’s there. :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:) It’s not as if what goes up, must comes down.

It wasn’t just about the ant egg / balut (neither which I enjoyed). Lacha’s khon kaen duck larp changed (or removed?), super spicy khanom jeen gone, kaeng nor mai went missing after Feb '15 menu flip, the tom sap went into the “hot pot” section along w/ price increase (IIRC?). The specials board was gone, even though they keep telling me it was integrated - untruth. They started doing hot pots like the old Ganda (RIP). Parking was getting more difficult.

Then luv2eat opened. That’s how things go; I’m not into planned obsolescence. luv2eat had opened for few months with no English press. Found them on Thai paper and them ladies sit in a parking lot. ZOMFG FREE PARKING in Hollywood, close to K&L, close to HFM. I have no favorite kid, unless one kid has parking, rides scooters, and lets me drink beer on the sidewalk like a FOB. That kid goes on IG.

Still love Pailin; still love Cancoon to no end but it moved. The closer Thai Noodle King has been a blessing this “winter”. Sorry to make it all about “me”, but… If I can’t park I can’t eat there. IDGAF there’s some slow ass Metro thing in LA.

Speaking of Delhi: Surati Farsan is fantastic in the same vein as Pailin/Lacha/Cancoon. Usually there twice a week, for years now. Then Artesia city council twats decided to make Little India more pedestrian friendly last year and narrowed Pioneer Blvd. Now there’s sick traffic + parking meters. Paratha Grill opened last Fall, with a parking lot, and it’s $7 for a fresh stuffed paratha plus a meat curry + chutneys. Are you kidding me? See ya later Surati, gonna miss all the Punjabi actresses on those TVs.

/rant tl;dr Lacha probably still good, changed menu, had no parking.

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But does paratha grill have pani puri and other chaat?

A convincing case. Our first meal there was after Feb 2015 and so less disappointment for us over menu changes/disappearances, I guess.

it’s more of a dhaba.

But they do have samosas, fish pakora, pani pure and a couple of other chaats. The chole comes with bhatura and can be had rather spicy, as can all the curries; I appreciate the personalization at a place with such high qpr.

not that into chaat (mostly do the Gujarati shaks at Surati), so YMMV.

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Go for the duck larb. Bamboo shoot salad is also good.

IMG_20171029_211053159

SL6 NAM-KHAO-TOOD
Sliced sour pork and grounded pork mixed with crispy rice, fresh ginger, peanuts, onion, and spicy lime juice.

Ordered maximum 5 of 5 spicy. I was happy. Nice crunch of various kinds and great sour pork. I haven’t found this at home yet.

IMG_20171029_211059332

P1 PAPAYA SALAD with SALTED BLACK CRAB
salted black crab mixed with fresh green papaya, tomatoes, long beans, Thai eggplant,
garlic, fresh chili, and lime juice.

Ordered 5 of 5 spicy but looking at the bill they gave me one notch down, which was a good contrast with the other dish. I can get better at the Thai temple at home, but this was entirely satisfactory.

I wouldn’t go here over Luv2Eat or Spicy BBQ, but it’s a block from one of my favorite bars.

Please have the Phuket style Squid in Ink at Crying Tiger before you go back.

Wait, you don’t live in LA? That’s quirky

I didn’t much care for Black Rabbit Rose, but maybe it’s worth going again for that one dish.

I come to LA a couple of times a year, mostly to eat.

All this time later, I have to finally get around to posting that I agree with JLee and TonyC here. When I went for the second time, it was early in the transition phase, so while some items had been dropped, others hadn’t. They had pared the menu down quite a bit though. My last visit (which was in early 2015), the specials board was there, but I was told they were all on the menu (which, as TonyC pointed out, wasn’t the case - though I don’t read Thai), They dropped even more from the menu afterwards. So, my confusion on the seeming dismissal of LAcha Somtum came from being literally lost in transition and translation.

This still isn’t to say that LAcha Somtum doesn’t have some interesting items or good renditions of others, but I concur completely about the rest, particularly the parking. I’m disappointed that I never managed to get to the dishes TonyC recommended aside from one of the papaya salads and the super spicy khanom jeen. That khanom jeen was incredible, especially since I had a bad cold. The waitress tried to talk me out of it three times, then simply shrugged as if to say: “Well, I warned him.” :slight_smile:

Though it doesn’t apply to in the case of LAcha Somtum, I still feel there’s a lot of “new toy syndrome.”

They had a hot pot menu, is that new?