Som Tam Nua
This humble place, with a fast-food sheen that could be at home in any L.A. strip mall, features Isan food, from Thailand's northeast. From raw mango to spicy pork salad, the dinner is a fiesta of strong chile and onions, everything moist and perfect, waiting to be sopped up with sticky rice. The natural acidity of Isan cuisine will help you digest the baskets of fried chicken, which are a must. It takes two to three hours to prepare poultry of this magnitude. the crisp goodness of the chicken is the result of an overnight marinade in fish sauce and pepper, as well as a skinny-dip in pineapple juice to tenderize the bird. Also try the Isan version of chitterlings - as thick and deadly and glorious as anything the American South has ever produced - which crackle in the mouth and are perfect with a drop of jaew fish sauce, a riot of coriander, red onion, and lime.
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