It Makes a Tiger Cry : Thailand’s Isaan cooking hits L.A.

By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times.

In English, seua rong hai means “it makes a tiger cry.” The phrase is the sobriquet of a fiercely spicy dish from Isaan-Thailand’s rural northeastern region. Seua rong hai typifies the bold, pungent flavors of Isaan regional cooking, which has gone from backwater survival fare In Thiland’s poorest area to trend setting fare both in Bangkok and North America. Outside of Thailand itself, Southern California may be the only place with a collection of restaurants specializing in northeastern Thai dishes.

Isaan food is dramatically different from the palace-influenced, central-style cuisine most Americans know as Thai. [[ read more ]]

Little Saigon Has Its Fill of Great Delights

It’s the cultural capital for 400,000 Vietnamese–and the home of many innovative restaurants.
By Linda Burum, Special to the Los Angeles Times

Bolsa Avenue is an eight-lane river of traffic coursing through the entrepreneurial heart of Orange County’s Little Saigon. Thirty seven years ago the fall of Saigon drove thousands of Vietnamese to flee here with little more than memories; even 20 years ago, when I first encountered Little Saigon, it was only

a small, hesitant patch of businesses in Westminster and Garden Grove.

Today, it’s the cultural and commercial capital of Southern California’s 400,000-strong Vietnamese community–the largest outside Vietnam itself–and it covers 4 1/2 square miles, spilling over into Santa Ana and Fountain Valley. In Southland fashion, its businesses are concentrated in malls, such as the majestic Asian Gardens, looking like the entry to the Forbidden City.
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