Lum-Ka-Naad | 99 Essential Restaurants 2015


photo by Danny Liao

Few places in the United States, if any, showcase the breadth of Thai cooking as does Lum-Ka-Naad, an ordinary-looking suburban diner whose menu boasts no fewer than four types of herb-stuffed Thai sausage, five varieties of nam prik and more mouth-watering curries than can be easily counted. The best dishes are presented as Northern and Southern specialties, each section labeled with the message “too spicy for the average American.” Embracing that challenge is a wise choice, as it leads to vibrant Chiang Rai tomato curries cooked down with fermented soybeans and dried tropical flowers (smuggled in by traveling employees); mouth-puckering green mango salads tossed with ground shrimp, toasted coconut and a scattering of dried chilies; or, most daringly, kaeng tai pla, a sublime smoked and fermented fish soup, whose star ingredient is stinky enough to strip paint.— Garrett Snyder