After reading J. Golds LA Weekly piece on Rod-Ded and being tantalized by the prospect of guey chai and look chim (fish balls), we decided to head over on Saturday. When we arrived at 11:15, the place was about half full pretty good since it opens at 11.
Rod-Ded has the atmosphere of a coffee shop circa 1973 not a particularly great way to feel pampered, but I took it as a sign about seriousness towards chow (I obviously wanted to put a good spin on it).
We ordered fried guey chai, the fish balls, a garlic and pepper mixed seafood dish and a fried tofu dish with bamboo shoots. The last dish confused my girlfriend because she was sure that the Thai on the menu called the dish a sprout dish, but her Thai is a little rusty from lack of daily use.
The guey chai were delish the leek-like veggie inside was juicy and the sauce was the same thickness and sweetness I remember well from my favorite place for guey chai in Bangkok. There is a lot of variety in this sauce since it is used for several different dishes, but the thicker sauce suits the fried dumpling wrapper very well. These guey chai, however, were much more fried than I am used to. The preparation I expected was pan fried if you buy them on the street in Bangkok, there is usually a large griddle like contraption on which they are fried. These seemed totally deep fried. They were bursting with veggie juices, but I dont think Id order only fried again maybe one order of steamed and one order of fried?
The fish balls were also fried and maybe that is why the grease and heaviness quotient seemed extremely high. There were 9 fish balls and they were quite solid in flavor not overly fishy, but still clearly of fish. The sauce was a little more spicy than some that accompany fish balls, but since fish balls are often grilled, the smoky flavor in the fish balls might make up for the less spicy sauce. Although I REALLY enjoyed the fish balls, I wish Rod-Ded offered them in a non-fried version.
At this point, I was over the moon happy. But I was let down by the next two dishes. Although J. Gold said that the stir-fry dishes were subpar, I was expecting extra grease but still flavor packed. Hmmm not quite. The garlic and pepper preparation can be a powerful display of the wonders of the oft-forgotten black pepper. At Ruen Pair, for example, get this preparation with shrimp and youll get heavenlyand potentlittle bombs of sharply peppery garlic coated shrimp in a sauce that you will use every last grain of your rice to sop up. At Rod-Ded, my reaction was, eh. Very little pepper flavor, overcooked squid (in a rubber band stylee), tiny shrimp and a very fishy fishcake (so fishy that my girlfriend thought the whole dish tasted of off fish flavor). Not a hit.
The other dish was better, but not super. The fried tofu itself was great it tasted freshly fried and was almost creamy in the center; the bamboo shoots also tasted crisp and fresh. But the sauce was completely lackluster it just had nothing of interest going for it.
Despite the last two dishes, I will definitely be back; Ill just order differently (I want to try the pad thai woon sen, a dish I dont often see on menus, and the pad kee mow). If you are wondering why we didnt order the duck-based house specialties, it is because we dont eat meat or poultry.
BTW- the Thai iced coffee was quite good. It seemed to be made from real coffee (not the standard Nescafe that I am used to) and somewhat less sickeningly sweet than the norm. Also, most of the things on the wall in Thai are actually on the menu, so not too many hidden goodies.
5623 Hollywood Blvd.