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Dining Out

Glori Fickling

Since the Coastline Pilot introduced this dining column about a month

ago, there have been almost half a dozen requests demanding a review of

Laguna’s newest Thai restaurant, one communique from no less than our

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esteemed Mayor Wayne Baglin.

Thus, here are the results of a very rewarding visit to Laguna Thai by

the Sea, which was launched in October by host A. Itti who happily

refurbished a former South Laguna delicatessen.

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The illusion of expanded space in the small, unpretentious interior

was achieved with a wall of reflecting mirrors. There are a mere six

tables, two of which are tall and round-topped. Soft drinks and ice

cream are expedited via serve-yourself vending machines.

And for those of us who desire of a frosty brew or a glass of wine to

enhance the enjoyment of the exotically complex tastes offered, the

recent acquisition of a beer and wine license now adds to a leisurely

dining experience. Because, after all, this quaint little respite is

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primarily all about great food at reasonable prices.

The warm family-style hospitality and whimsical menu headings aptly

reveal Itti’s association with close restaurant relatives with whom he

honed his considerable skills -- jovial Jep of Dana Point’s long popular

Thai This and Mike Itti, his father, who heads the local Thai Bros on

Laguna Avenue.

AppeTHAIzers, for instance, commence with the popular beef and chicken

satay and continue with such original recipes as delectably succulent

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green mussels in lemon grass, THAIstickers embracing minced chicken and

veggies, THAItillas abundant with ground seafood/avocado/cilantro and por

pia spring rolls wrapped in crispy rice paper.

A melange of colorful vegetables livens many of these wonderful

creations, from creamy coconut and spicy hot and sour soups to such main

courses as pad king which, like most entrees, offers a choice of beef,

pork, chicken or shrimp accompanied by crunchy rough-cut chunks of

zucchini, onion, tomato, bell pepper and mushrooms.

In contrast are the delicate threads of carrot and cabbage

attractively garnishing every appetizer and the tasty bed of wilted

spinach complementing some other outstanding dishes.

Promptly upon seating, guests are welcomed warmly with little

containers of peanut, sweet-sour, sweet-sour-spicy and hot sauces, plus

cucumber relishes presented with tiny spoons for dipping with any and all

dishes.

These provide experimental fun for individual cravings, although

almost everything is more than sufficiently flavorful with such

seasonings as lemon grass, spicy lime sauce, ginger, curry and the

ubiquitous peanut sauce.

Among 34 menu items there are seven appeTHAIzers and a trio called

Warm Broth at $4.50 each. Four hefty choices from the “Green Garden” are

$4.50 to $6.95. Entrees are $8.25, save for the pad talay offering of

shrimp, scallops, mussels “sauteed in a magnificent sauce” and gai yang

“‘BBQ chicken my way.” Free delivery from Laguna Thai by the Sea is

available Monday through Thursday from 5 until 9 p.m.

LAGUNA THAI BY THE SEA

WHERE: 31715 South Coast Highway

HOURS: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Every Day.

PHONE: 415-0924


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