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
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.
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
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
AppeTHAIzers, for instance, commence with the popular beef and chicken
satay and continue with such original recipes as delectably succulent
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
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.