Melanee Thai Restaurant

I see ew: Melanee Thai's note-worthy pad

I see ew: Melanee Thai’s note-worthy pad

Green curry with coconut rice

Touch of mint: Green curry with coconut rice

Multi-flavored: Hot and sour coconut soup (a/k/a tom kar vegetables)

Multi-layered: Hot and sour coconut soup (a/k/a tom kar vegetables)

In searching for good Thai food, vegetarians often face the dilemma of whether to risk violating a wishful “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy regarding fish sauce. (It’s hard to forget a bucket of steamed vegetables traumatically served years ago in New York’s Chelsea when the issue was pressed.) Los Angeles, it’s true, has a several strictly vegetarian Thai restaurants, which we plan to visit in due course, although our first experience was not entirely encouraging (see June 12 review). In the meantime, we very much appreciate a more traditional but still flexible establishment, and Melanee Thai Restaurant (9562 Pico Blvd., near Beverwil in Pico-Robertson) fits the bill nicely. We began tonight with tom kar vegetables, a terrific hot and sour coconut soup with multiple layers of flavor, including an underlying savoriness and mild heat cut by the light creaminess of the coconut, the acidic tang of fresh lime, the citrus notes of lemongrass and cilantro, and the varied contributions of the mixed vegetables, including mushrooms, broccoli, bok choy, cabbage, pea pods, and carrot. Served in a big bowl, it provided plenty of happy slurping for two people and came so close to filling us up that we were able to eat only about half of our two entrées, though both were well worth finishing. The green curry, which the restaurant identifies as one of its most popular dishes, deftly employs fresh mint as a cooling counterpart to the sauce (mildly spicy at our request), as well as an array of tasty vegetables: broccoli, bok choy, and cabbage again, plus red and green peppers and eggplant. As for our pad see ew, the slightly gummy rice noodles were suitably savory, with a hint of sweetness and just a bit of egg to go with the veggies. (We do wish that our coconut rice and lemonade had been a little less sugary, though.) Melanee, which is next to the offices of Samuel Goldwyn Films, is pleasant and comfortable, with quiet jazz music, pillows thoughtfully placed in the banquettes, and Buddha statues everywhere. Our waiter tonight was the executive chef himself, a friendly and talented guy who was happy to answer all our questions. We asked, and he told us. Fish sauce, who needs you?

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