It has been over ten years since I first discovered Saladang. This jewel is consistently my favorite Thai restaurant, I dare to say, in the world outside of Thailand. I’m a harsh critique when it comes to Thai food, but this restaurant receives my recommendation every time! Wherever my travels take me, my craving for powerful flavors such as basil, peanut sauce, spices, lemongrass, and seafood stir my hunger to revisit Saladang. Now that I spend most of my days in San Diego, whenever I visit LA, I pay my homage to my dependable, hidden, gem.
This restaurant’s obscure location is out of the way of a stream of popular restaurants located on Fair Oaks Boulevard in Pasadena, California. Inside this large, open spaced restaurant you will notice high ceilings with exposed electrical and ventilation system. On the walls, local artist display their art work for sale. In the center of the dining area, a large variety of orchids are arrangement to perfection. Even in the restrooms, you will find a basket of miniature roses displayed.
Friends and family look to me for recommendations of restaurants. For Thai food, not only do I make a strong case for Saladang, but I also like to suggest specialty dishes to order. I am blessed to have friends who flatter my taste by allowing me to order on their behalf at restaurants….This tradition started six years ago, the very first dinner gathering in which I introduced Birgit to my new friends Jisook and Anja, at Saladang. Therefore, it was very special this last April to revisit Saladang with Roland and Anja….we ordered on this day, the same dishes we had ordered that fateful night. Our taste buds, hearts, and stomachs were filled with the same love and contentment of six years ago; however, we were missing our dear friends Jisook, who now lives in Seoul, and Birgit, who lives in Hamburg.
Here are some of my recommendations:
Their Chicken Dumpling is out of this world. Unique sweet dumpling texture, filled with garlic, chicken and prominent black pepper flakes, garnished with fried garlic chips will bring you back every time. I would also highly recommend the Coconut or Spicy Sour Soup, Fried Shrimp Toast and Spicy Beef Salad. The Green Curry with Tofu is a house specialty. The flavors are subtle, yet fulfilling. My favorite is their Sizzling Beef! Every time I ordered this dish, it gathers so much attention that I notice a progression of this dish delivered to other tables. From a far, you hear the beef sizzle, see the trail of smoke, and smell the peanut sauce make its way to your table. Fresh spinach, beef, and peanut sauce are served on a hot iron dish. Mmmm…..I can see it, smell it, and hear it now. Instead of ordering plain white rice, I would suggest ordering Saladang’s Specialty Rice: herbs, curry, fresh vegetable and rice! That says it all.
I don’t have much of a sweet tooth and usually eat so much of Saladang’s scrumptious dishes, that I don’t leave any room for desert. However, if you happen to make it during their lunch time, ice cream is served complimentary.
There are no reservations at this restaurant. Popular hours of serving might require you to wait in line for 20-30 minutes, but it is well worth the wait. The service is fast, efficient and friendly. Dress comfortable, as the patrons and servers are down to earth and sociable.