For a while now, my friend Sly and I have been wanting to try the fare at Night + Market, a much buzzed about Thai restaurant within a restaurant on the Sunset Strip. The eatery has garnered all sorts of praise from local critics and bloggers (Jonathan Gold recently listed Night + Market as one of the top twenty restaurants in LA); so it’s shocking that it took us so long to get our asses over to Talesai, the home of Night + Market.
Luckily, with our trusty buddy IndianJones in town for business, we had the perfect excuse to go on a Thai adventure.
The three of us arrive in an industrial space filled with long communal tables and benches. Sly, who has been intermittently suffering from various hip, knee, and perhaps pinky toe issues, bemoans the lack of back support, and I don’t disagree. This really isn’t a ding against the restaurant. I just wanted to highlight how crotchety we’re becoming in our old age.
Anyway, the menu warns us that the dishes at Night + Market are spicy — REAL spicy — but Sly and I never shy away from such a challenge. And IndianJones, well, he was born in India; so his intestinal tract is more or less bulletproof. I’m sure he likes to view himself as the gastrointestinal version of the Terminator.
Our first two dishes arrive. A fried pig’s tail (above, left) and pork toro (above, right), which is grilled fatty hog collar with a Northeastern chile dip. Both are very tasty, especially the pig’s tail, which has been braised and fried into submission. The fat just melts off it like glorious… glorious… what’s something that’s glorious and fatty? BUTTER!
IT’S LIKE BUTTAH.
Be sure to swab up the tangy sauce lingering at the bottom of the bowl. And prepare to get messy. Pig tail is not the most refined dish to eat. It requires dexterity. And most likely fingers.
Meanwhile, the pork toro is very good too, even if the dip is on the salty side. Both are solid dishes.
Arriving next is a killer dish: kao kluk gapi, or shrimp paste-seasoned rice. So very, very awesome. It comes to the table all beautifully arranged, ready to be mixed and scrambled with a spoon. Sly happily takes on the role of Rice Queen quite happily.
While the rice may look docile, it packs quite a punch. IndianJones and Sly are quickly reduced to tears and little “Whooo!!!” noises. Somehow, I avoid a similar fate… temporarily. I can assure you that by the end of the evening, I too have sweat beading all over my head.
Soon my bowl is overrun by the shrimp paste rice as well as our other favorite dish of the night, moo sadoong or “startled pig.” I don’t understand the translation either. It’s grilled pork, basil, lemongrass, fish sauce, lime, and bird eye chile. Sly and I both gravitate towards it on the menu, causing IndianJones to scoff and declare that it seems VERY STANDARD. His tune changes, however, when he tastes its utter awesomeness. The rice and this pork dish become our favorites of the night.
Finally, we round out the dinner with beef grapow, which comes with chile, garlic, thai basil and a fried, crispy egg on top. It’s very good; although, of the five dishes, it’s the least memorable. Don’t get me wrong — it’s still very tasty — but on a return visit, I’d order something else.
For dessert, we order both options: mango with sticky rice and a coconut ice cream sandwich. The latter is very tasty — IndianJones is beside himself with how much he loves the coconut ice cream — but wow, that mango and sticky rice is the real winner. We’re shocked that something so simple can be so utterly amazing. It’s possibly the very best thing we have all night. Who would have thunk it?
Night + Market
9041 sunset blvd
w. hollywood, ca 90069