Found in Translation

Krua Siri's Isaan menu, now in English

The presence of orange chicken on the menu at a Thai restaurant is usually a harbinger of a bad meal.

Not at Krua Siri, where Americanized "Asian" food is served alongside some of the city's best Isaan cooking. Months after the L.A. Times cracked the code of the Thai-language section of the menu, where the dishes from that northeastern province were listed, the restaurant has translated these culinary gems into English.

If you tend to leave nothing but a few antennae behind when eating whole shrimp, order the fried garlic bird appetizer ($10). The chunks of quail are fried hard enough to yield crunchy, edible bones, and the tiny pockets of dry meat rehydrate deliciously in the sweet, musky dipping sauce.

Despite the raft of chile seeds floating on the bird's sauce, it's not particularly spicy–a rare reprieve from heat. We ordered duck laab (pictured; $12) spiced at the midpoint of Krua Siri's 10-step scale, and the "medium" spice was more than enough to get our endorphins spinning. But the laab was a revelation, the persistent burn integral to its invigorating amalgam of flavors. The tender ground meat was delightfully offset by the dual crunch of toasted rice and crispy shards of duck skin.

Krua Siri, 5103 Hollywood Blvd., Thai Town; 323-660-6196 or kruasiri.com