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Weekend Eats: Melanee Thai

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I love, love, LOVE hole in the wall ethnic food. I love the feeling of stumbling across a great little restaurant with passionate people working there to feed the locals. I also love finding a restaurant that has its own soul and unique take on a culture's food.

Melanee Thai near Century City is the perfect example of the hole in the wall with its own voice. I had the great fortune of meeting chef Paul Butpet and having a couple of meals at Melanee...

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Shrimp Scampi (left) and Seafood Linguine (right)
Fried shrimp with sweet garlic sauce on top of pasta. The shrimp is spec-ta-cu-lar, an explosion of hot, juicy sweet garlicky flavor when you put it in your mouth. The shrimp is perfectly fried to be a bit crunchy on the outside, but still tender on the inside. Masterfully done and very pleasing. The seafood linguine is not overloaded with sauce and is on the lighter side, beautifully flavored with dried tomatoes and generously appointed with mussels, shrimp and scallops.

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The fillet of sole (left) is lightly fried and covered in a sweet curry sauce. The fish is smooth and mellow but the curry kicks it up a notch with its distinct sweetness and tang. Crystal's Special (right) is this powerful garlic pork piled on top of a very comforting and mellow bed of chicken fried rice.

The juxtaposition of different items of different and complimentary intensity really makes these dishes stand out, and what's rare but is present here at Melanee is that each dish works in its own way to distinct itself from the standard Thai food one would expect. It's not "authentic" but there's always something surprising and new with each dish, and that is hard to find in a town with hundred upon hundreds of Thai places.

The place is dark, so I apologize for the washed out pictures. It's quiet and comfortable, though, with big couches and throw pillows for booths. I'd totally take a date there, especially when I know how friendly chef Paul and the family staff is.

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Melanee Thai
9562 W Pico Blvd
Los Angeles, CA, 90035
(310) 273-4066

Photos by Kevin Cheng for LAist.com