Thai chili and American chili. They’re two very different things.
Thai chilis are small, delicious red, orange and green bullets of tongue-searing capsicum. American chili is brown, sloppy, sometimes spicy and equally delicious. I recently got the Thai version at Ganda and the American at Chili Addiction:
Saveur called Ganda the most authentic Thai food in America. I haven’t been to Thailand yet, so I’m not the best judge of authenticity. All I know I learned from LA’s vibrant Thai restaurant scene- and I totally realize that Spicy BBQ, Jitlada, Ruen Pair, Pa-Ord and Sri Siam are Americanized restaurants.
Ganda was solid, with clean flavors, but nothing mind blowing. The papaya salad was not overdressed, the ingredients were fresh and crunchy and it had a mild bite. The tom yum soup was light, citrusy and not too oily.
The crsipy catfish, which was the main attraction, was totally underwhelming. I’m not sure if we ordered the wrong one (we went off the menu, not the buffet table), but this catfish was chewy and thin. In terms of flavor boldness, it was about a six. I may just be used to the flavor assault of the other Thai restaurants in the area- restaurants that likely use salt, sugar, oil, Thai chilis and MSG with reckless abandon.
Moving from one chili to another, I was also underwhelmed by Chili Addiction in West Hollywood. This no frills palace of meat and beans serves a range of different chilis in multiple sized bowls or on hot dogs.
I ordered a medium bowl of spicy serrano sirloin chili. The first thing I noticed was how even it was. There wasn’t a layer of grease on top or large chunks or meat poking out. It looked great.
The flavors of the united components were good, but I think the beef itself was under seasoned or tough. There was something that lacked on the meat side. I hoped for more spice as well.
So, promising but underwhelming first tries for both sides of the chili coin. I will go back to both and report back with an update.