At the old home of “Cru” now resides “Jitlada”, a modern Thai restaurant, with traditional flavours. I called in a take out order, so was surprised how great the place looked when I came in to pick it up. It was empty now at a quarter past 5pm, the start of their dinner service. When full, I am certain the guests like where they are sitting. With a plain undecorated doorway and unsigned windows you may miss this place; except that you trip over the white sandwich board, printed on with black narrow font. Shame if you did, as once you get past the wall of a partition you can truly see how nice “Jitlada” looks. A view not visible from the door way, which may be a reason for less customers dining in. If can see in, how do you know you want to come in?
The first thing that greets you is the most beautiful gold jeweled pedestal. On it sits a clear glass bowl. And in that floats a delicate, hand crafted purple lotus flower. It shines as it is back lit by a green spot light.
Everything is uncomplicated here; simple with clean lines and neutral colours. Automatically the restaurant’s decor gives off an air of refinement. The only other real embellishments are the neatly framed art work of Thai girls on one wall and a statute of a golden deity strumming a sitar. The golden figure sits on the bar’s counter, and before her is a peach coloured shot she has yet to drink. The wall of mirrors on the opposite wall opens up the space with the illusion that it is wider than it really is.
The bar is fashioned from birch wood and is separated in boxes and by shelves. Each bottle gets its own space to properly showcase its availability. This feature too is clean. And like the decor the owner,(the only front of store employee at this time) is as put together. A business professional and a Thai woman who is as fluent in her English as she is in her native tongue. I observed this when she chirped on the phone, as I waited for her to complete packing my order. Though she did have trouble earlier understanding my attempts at ordering items by their Thai names over the phone; and spelling them out only made things worse. She wore a tight sheath dress and looked fashionable with her chunky golden collar necklace. I was her first dinner customer and she was chipper while multitasking; getting my meal plastic boxed, paper bagged, and ready to go. It left me with a great impression when she said, “I hope you enjoy my food”. Wow, what a way to make a personal connection. And it definitely did help me to enjoy my meal more.
“Yum Pla-Muk”. Slices of cooked squid in a mixture of lime juice, tomato, onion, spices, and fresh mint leaves. This was the first time I have had this, and my only regret was not daring to try it sooner. What an original taste. Not something you could eat everyday or finish a large portion of in one seating, but still worth trying multiple times. Not only did it look amazing with its colours and perfectly sliced up squid, but it was not like anything I have ever tried. It was as refreshing as it was hard to describe.
Wonderfully fresh, the vinaigrette tasted just like apple, which accentuated the mint leaves perfectly. I concluded this was in part due to the the stringy crunchy bits, of what I assume was apple flesh shredded into a string like consistency. The squid absorbed all this great flavour and added a great chew with its rubbery texture. The owner mentioned throwing in extra tomatoes, which was great as I passed on the hard cabbage leaves.
“Pad Thai”. Pan fried Thai rice noodles in a tamarind sauce with prawns, egg, tofu, bean sprouts, green onion, and topped with peanuts. The most well known dish in Thai cuisine, and the best measuring stick to judge the quality of a Thai restaurant; as everyone on them serves this classic. I cannot describe it better than to say that this was honestly the best pad Thai I have had. It was light in flavour and light in texture. A meal you would eat and not feel full or guilty as it sat in your stomach. The freshness of the ingredients was apparent. Juicy well seasoned prawns that never once overwhelmed the noodles. Bean sprouts that snapped with crispiness as you bit into them. Delicious.
Would I come back? – Yes.
Would I recommend it? – Yes.
At an convenient to get to location with enough surrounding parking, it is at a good location. And seeing as it is still new and doesn’t attract too much attention on the block, chances are you don’t need a reservation or to wait for a table. The prices aren’t cheap, but they definitely justify the taste of the food. Delicious seasonings, fresh ingredients, this was high end Thai. I hope they stick with their chef and continue with their ingredient direction. If they do I have no doubt “Jitlada” will be earning themselves accolades soon. That is if they can drum up enough business to be given the chance.