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LOS report

mdibiaso | Jan 27, 2003 09:39 AM

I managed to get two meals at LOS during my visit to LV. One the Helen reported on a few threads below and one on my own. First a summary of my LOS experience than a report on the first nights dishes. For me LOS defines the difference between a great restaurant a chowhound experience. A great restaurant has great food. A chowhound experience like LOS has great food but also some unique twist on the food. At LOS the twist is the menu. There are many items I do not think you will find elsewhere, particularly on the Northern menu, and in general a huge amount of non-standard thai fare. An example is the tuna tartar I describe below. A great restaurant will have great service. A chowhound experience like LOS will have great service plus a burning soul in the house. Bill is that soul at LOS. After dropping Dave Feldman's name Bill spent quite a bit of time at my table both nights (thanks Dave, you have a token of my appreciation waiting for you at LOS on your next visit). But he was at many other tables as well, discussing the philosphy behind their cooking and the intricacy of many of the dishes. Example, their sausages, which Bill would prefer with more fat and moisture but which are made a little drier to accommadate western preferences. Bill's soul has set the tone for the whole staff who go out of their way to make every guest happy and then put in that extra mile for chowhounds. A great restaurant is in a place you would expect it, a chowhound experience is some where you would never expect it and would probably never find on your own. LOS is in a location that would NEVER reveal what is behind the doors and on the plate. All three taxis I took to/from the restaurant thought I was from LV because the could not imagine anyone but a local dining in the strip mall that LOS is locating. The fact that Bill has built the place he has built in this location is also amazing. He could just as easily stuck to standard thai fare cooked very well for the locals and succeeded. That he took the risk he did with his eclectic menu in this location is an example of his devotion to this cuisine. Finally a chowhound experience will also have some curve ball to separate it from a mearly great restaurant. At LOS the curve ball is the wine list and the knowledge of wine the staff has. Bill and I spent a lot of time taking wine. His list of German rieslings is AMAZING. Even bottles at over 300 USD are bargains. The first night, when he realized I had an interest in wine, he poured me 6 different glasses of riesling, each selected to match the dish I was having at the time. I doubt there is any restaurant in all of LV and maybe not all of the world outside of German that would have as many riesling by the glass as LOS. And remember this is a THAI RESTAURANT IN A STRIP MALL. If that ain't a chowhound experience I do not know what is.

Finally my dishes the first night. I never looked at the menu, I just asked for Bill, told him Dave sent and bring food. The crunchy rice with sour sausage. This was the eye opener I needed to fight my jet lag from Sweden. So many flavors, so many textures and what a wine to match. Next a plate of plain sausage slices compliments of Bill as a foundation to discuss sausage preferences. Complex, earthy flavors that I also would have liked to see a little fattier and moister (but I am used to European sausages that run rather than drip with fat). Third a sallad with sliced barbecue beef. I have had many Thai sallads before but was shined in this one was the quality and test of the beef. Otherwise it is usually the heat and sour of the dressing. Could have eaten 3 plates of this stuff. Next a northern Thai pork stew. Tasted like it had been on the stove for hours (this is good in my eyes). Amazing depth of flavor and example of country cooking and a great contrast to the light, hot, sour sallad I had just finished. But as I was getting full I was glad the portion was small. Final main course was tuna tartar. This was a revelation. The tuna pieces were about the size of dice. Very fat, sashima quality raw tuna. The pieces were not held together like a standard tartar with egg or anything. Instead each piece was covered with dry spices after being curing with lime and spices. Take a piece of tuna, some salad and fresh greens and chillies, bite and take the train straight to food heaven. This was the best dish of the two nights together with the steamed sea bass I had with Helen. I got a dessert sampler the first night also. The coconut ice cream was my favorite and I honestly had trouble with the dried, salty fish served with some of the others, although I understand the concept of contrasting sweet with salt. Just not my taste. By the end of the night (which was breakfast time by my body clock) I was overwhelmed with the experience. I only wish I could have had 10 meals at LOS on the trip as having tried only 10 dishes or so seems like going to heaven but only being able to climb up the pearly gates and look in. I'll be back.

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