I get one dish; Larb (Laab) Kai (Gai). Loosely translated (gonna get blasted on this one) ‘chicken salad’ made from minced chicken, lime, mint, fish sauce, rice power (never heard of that one) and spices including ground red pepper. “ How hot you like?”, the wife of the owner asks. I always get “8”.
Sometimes you just want something a bit lighter, not so heavy in consistency and flavorful that will put a little sweat under your hat to cool you down. This Larb is all protein and vegetables.
Thai food is traditionally a bit on the spicy side; but this dish is actually Laotian; but it also commonly served in the northern parts of Thailand. It is my favorite Thai dish because the chicken is cooled just after preparation and the fresh herbs like mint and other spices are added to give it all of the flavors. It is served as a salad along with quartered cabbage, tomato and cucumber. The flavorful minced chicken is just above room temperature and all of the fresh vegetables are still cool. I just stack some of the Larb on top of a piece of cabbage, slices of tomato or cucumber and use them as a spoon.
California Thai Cafe is known around this area for their lunch service since it is located in a business district; that’s how I learned of it, from coworkers taking me there many years ago. I have tried their lunch specific specials that are mostly comprised of Chinese inspired dishes and their very good curries, but I have always come back to the plate that ‘momma’ recommended on my first visit. “If you want traditional, get the Larb Kai”.