Spicy BBQ was the fourth leg of an epic food marathon. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, Food Marathon leads occasional food benders. Today, he guided Matt (Mattatouille) Kang and I on a Hollywood eating tour that began at Skooby’s Dogs, Loteria Grill Hollywood and Falafal Arax. Spicy BBQ delivered the only meal that was truly special. The Northern Thai food that Kanlaya “Nong” Sriyana produces in her tiny strip mall kitchen is some of the most flavorful and satisfying in town, of any variety.
We began with a bowl of fire-red pork dip served with sticky rice, which acts as an eating implement. The crumbled pork “dip” was sprinkled with fried garlic and shaved scallions. It wasn’t nearly as spicy as Nong’s Serrano chile variation, but it still appeared with raw cucumbers and cabbage to cool our mouths.
Nong’s curry-soaked glass noodles are always staggeringly good, loaded with crunchy sheets of bamboo, purple eggplant, green Thai eggplant, green beans and cauliflower florets. Of course it was loaded with crispy nubs of fried garlic and whole chilies. The dish is available with chicken, pork or shrimp, but it pairs particularly well with plump shrimp. Considering this is Spicy BBQ, the noodles were relatively mild.
Nong combines cilantro, garlic, onion, mint and red chilies to form Fried Ground Pork Cakes. Nong bakes and deep-fries the patties, then tops them with crispy mint leaves and a shower of fried minced garlic. All her effort results in explosive, complex flavor.
Spicy BBQ’s menu might not be nearly as deep or varied as nearby Jitlada, but what Nong makes, she makes incredibly well. Spicy BBQ certainly deserves mention as one of L.A.’s top Thai restaurants, and Food Marathon deserves mention as one of L.A.’s most deliciously devastating eating ideas.