Off Menu: An education in Thai food with Jitlada’s Jazz Singsanong


In the first episode of “Off Menu,” Food columnist Lucas Kwan Peterson and Jazz Singsanong, longtime proprietor of the Thai Town restaurant Jitlada, head to LAX-C, a vast, warehouse-like grocery store that’s sometimes known by its informal nickname, Thai Costco. Full of shrimp pastes, Asian vegetables and fish sauces you can’t find at a Ralphs or Vons, LAX-C is a godsend for any chef with an interest in Thai or Southeast Asian cooking. The two of them go shopping, Jazz educating Lucas on selecting produce and how to pick a high-quality fish to bring home. They then return to the Jitlada kitchen where Jazz shows Lucas how to make a few dishes that aren’t on the regular menu.

Jazz immigrated to the United States from Thailand in 1979. At that time, Jitlada existed as a Northern Thai restaurant, under different management; Jazz herself would eat there as a diner. It wasn’t until 2006 that Jazz and her brother, the late Tui Sungkamee, bought the restaurant and began turning it into what it is today: possibly the most-loved restaurant in all of Thai Town. Famous for its searing-hot mango salads and volcanic curries, Jitlada became a favorite of the late Times critic Jonathan Gold. Following the death of her brother, Jazz continues to run the restaurant with her niece, Sugar.


A funky, salty and fiery dip from Jazz

Jazz Singsanong of Jitlada restaurant gives us her recipe for nam prik goong, a funky, salty dipping sauce for raw vegetables made with shrimp and shrimp paste.



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