On the way home from getting pumelled by 100 lb Thai women last night at Pho Siam, Jascha and I tried out a new Thai restaurant, Khun Dom, raved about by LA Weekly's food critic Jonathan Gold. Up until then we had been trekking over to Renu Nakorn in Norwalk whenever we had a craving for Isan treats. The prospect of an Isan restaurant half the distance away was most appealing.
The restaurant was a tiny hole in the wall in a fairly sketchy area of E Melrose. The place was packed and the tables were teeming with sticky, wriggling and screaming children and infants. Perfect. I decided to be patient and stick it out. We ordered fish cakes, som tum with dried shrimp, sticky rice, and Thai iced coffees, in addition to the highly recommended nam kao tod, a dish consisting of ground pork, pork skin, ginger, peanuts, chilies, cilantro, onion, and the pièce de résistance, crispy rice, all bathed in a lime juice dressing. The food made it all worth it. The fish cakes were a bit rubbery, but the salads were delectable. The food came with a huge plate of fresh Thai herb/vegetables, including long beans, cilantro, cabbage, lettuce, Thai basil, and two plants I have yet to identify (see photo). Per my mom, I think one might be watercress.
Nam kao tod has now surpassed som tum as my favorite savory Thai dish and I am anxious to try the real deal on our upcoming Asia tour. Until then we'll be frequent visitors of Khun Dom.