Wednesday, January 5, 2011

musings of a sunshine-lacking girl

With all this short-day, work too much, not seeing the sunshine and blizzard nonsense, it has got me longing for the beach - warm sand (even hot enough that it forces me to run everywhere), cool water, late night bonfires, barbecuing, surfing, and....Thai food. What? Yes, I said it. Thai food.  One of THE best Thai restaurants I've been to and would travel cross country just for one meal is Cholada Thai Beach Shack.  Granted, a Thai Beach Shack may seem odd at first - but really, just think about the beaches in Phuket.  It's a match made in heaven! Sitting on the beach, sipping an ice cold Singha, munching on fresh summer rolls, spicy pad thai, anything with a little kick to it, you name it - you can't get much better than that!  Cholada is the closest I'll get to that - as much as my Thai cook Pradist tells me he'll take me to the Thai beaches.

That's how you roll to the shack.
Needless to say, if you are EVER in Malibu, somewhere in Los Angeles, or anywhere close by, it is a necessity to stop by this little restaurant.  The little ladies inside speak ne'er a word of English.  It looks old, and is wind and sand-worn from the ocean. And yes, it seemed like every time I went, the health inspector was there, but I'm totally okay with that - it's a beach shack!  It's just a quick drive up the beautiful coastline of California, right up the PCH by Topanga State Beach - you could miss it if you blinked.  There have been times that I had to pull to a screeching halt not to miss the parking area. And if you do in fact make it, sit outside - the view overlooking the Pacific right beyond the PCH is unbeatable, especially with delicious treats in front of you!
Not optional. Necessary. My Thai chef claims this turns you into that dragon..I don't know about that.
As far as the food goes - it's simple, quick, and outrageously flavorful - just as Thai food should be - perfectly balanced between sweet, salty, spicy, and sour.  Cholada wraps - their version of the summer roll, are perfectly chilled and fresh, with a great flavor of shrimp coming through (not a tad bit overcooked), and the steamed wrapper isn't gummy at all like some you may have had - just tender enough to bite through.  The WINNER appetizer though is something I had never had before - Kanum Jeep.  Steamed wontons filled with chestnuts and ground pork, topped with crispy minced garlic. WOW! Each time I ate here, I was so excited about the wontons that I never even got a picture of them. And, oh, the papaya salad (Som Tam).  If you've ever had a great, properly made papaya salad - you know that no words can describe it! Shredded green papaya, fish sauce, chilies, garlic, lime....let's stop thinking about that and look at the veranda.

Come on - this plus Thai food? Perfect.
Moving on to the main events. Now, I know that pad thai is really not "authentic" but , really, I love it. And you can't beat a good Pad Thai either - none of this sauce-laden, mushy, ketchup-y looking glob - but perfect rice noodles, crispy bean sprouts and cabbage, fresh lime juice, and a perfect spicy tamarind sauce.  They hit the jackpot.
Please note the empty plate in the background.
And my favorite of all - that generally when I went to Cholada, we would end up ordering more than one because it was so outrageously delicious - Cholada Pumpkin - the chef's special. Perfectly cooked pumpkin (kabocha squash), carrot, bell peppers, and eggplant sauteed with fresh basil in a sweet chili sauce.  This is definitely in my list of top ten of greatest things I've ever eaten - I can just imagine it now!  A perfect spice from the Thai Bird's Eye chilies, savory notes from tamarind and fish sauce, brightened up by the big scraps of basil (yes, scraps) and lime juice, with a tad bit of sweetness from palm sugar. Oh. My.
 

Does anyone have a few Benjamins to spare to fly me to Malibu for a couple of days? Well, you may be able to guess what will be coming up in the next few days. I have recreated Cholada pumpkin with phenomenal success, in the past, but alas I didn't write the recipe down.  Mission: recreate again, get Singha, turn on every light in my apartment, play ocean sounds, kick back, and enjoy.  I may even try to get at those chestnut dumplings....wait and see!

On a final note - the most endearing thing about this place, is this sign:  


Always watching out for the kids.  If you'd like to check out their website (as rough-edged as the shack itself) - follow this link: Cholada Thai

3 comments:

Carrie Stadelman said...

Love it Kat! you've always been an amazing cook!

pattaya holiday packages said...

I love Thai food, thank you for sharing this.

Epidemic Kitty Kat said...

Thanks for the love Carrie!!