Table Notes: When you see this restaurant you get the immediate idea that Victor Wata, the owner, places considerable value on the visual aspects of the enterprise. He does this first, by making a design statement in the building itself, and then carrying through in the succeeding details.
This is a place where the menu category "Fountain of Broths" is exceeded in descriptiveness by "Madam Curries." Where the seafood dishes go in the "Hook Line & Sinker" area. And, then, when your order arrives, the consistently visual framework takes shape on your plate. Witness my Pad Thai dish, a harmonious blend of reds and oranges, an accent of its color opposite green (via the parsley and scallion), and all on a cloud of cyan ceramic sitting on jade green tiles.
I can tell you this: it tastes as good as it looks.
As you eat, look around and note the architecture. The color scheme now accents a multilevel ceiling, which sets off various sections. It has a minimalist but comfortable bar on one side and the kitchen area on the opposite. The adventurist shapes of the space defy tradition while the food is nothing but.
For those Thai diners who haven't yet discovered the most extraordinary of soups contained within this cuisine, let me introduce you to Tom Ka Gai, a traditional delight whose base is surprisingly coconut milk with chicken, mushrooms, and something called galanga. I can only guess that this is what imparts the spiciness on top of the coconut that brings it into the area of the sublime. Most Thai restaurants offer it (with one spelling or another) and Natalee's is as good as they come. Just be certain to stir it well before wading in.
Another unique feature that Natalee offers is a pretty complete Sushi/Sashimi menu, perhaps to make this a one-stop Asian cookery for the neighborhood.
Location: Along the Venice Blvd. corridor, corner Clarington. This is along the eastern edge of Sony Studio, further south. The Cuban restaurant, Versaille, is on the boulevard to the east with Overland about a half mile to the west.
Delivery: Free within the area.
Other locations: 998 S. Robertson Blvd. Beverly Hills, CA 90035, (310) 855-9380 -- Corner of Olympic and Robertson
Total experience: Uniqueness in presentation from the street to the table; peak Thai flavors; reasonable cost. Nice package. Can take prizes for creative ambience via its architectural originality.
Jules Brenner has published a cross-indexed guide to dining in Los Angeles County and posts a "Restaurant of the Month" on his website. Check out the current one at http://variagate.com/restbook.htm
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