Finding myself in Pasadena on a Friday night, post movie-watching, I hit Saladang with the endearingly eats-anything S.O. and two Chowish friends. I was most excited, as I've heard happy things about the place and was so hungry I actually suggested "Shakers" as we drove by. (Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed...still, I remain sickly fascinated by chain restaurants, but that is a post for another day. Or message board.)
It was 9:30 when we got there and we only had to wait a few minutes before being seated. We ordered the Thai dumplings and vegetable roll appetizers; of the two the rolls were way better. They came with both peanut and honey-mustard sauce for dipping, and the unorthodox honey-mustard was the winner. I *love* dumplings and tho these were good they didn't blow me away on any fundamental level.
Of our entrees, the Saladang salad really stands out: it is matchsticked green apple with small, fried pieces of slightly flavorless chicken and peanut sauce. It works really well. One of my dining companions declared it the best thing on earth to eat on a hot day (he knows from experience).
We also had a predictably bland order of mixed vegetables, shrimp prik king (pretty good but oily, and with a strong coconut flavor I'm not used to in this) and spicy noodles. The noodles were wierd. They were spicy with a vague sickly sweetness; one of those dishes you take a bite of, taste it, are not wholly certain you like it but have another bite because you can't put your finger on what the taste is exactly...and before you know it you've eaten half the plate.
Or maybe this is just me.
The noodles also had the ghost of a sour, metallic taste underneath everything, which we decided was tomato but tasted to me like blood (I refrained from sharing my observation with the table). Overall, it was not a bad dish...but I wouldn't order it again. It was too distracting, too puzzling. And like a bad chowing companion, it monopolized our dinner conversation.
We were the last table in there by a quarter past 10, which we thought odd considering this is one of Pasadena's more popular spots. But then we remembered: oh yeah, we're in Pasadena. (Well, hey, Shakers was still open.)