New! Summer Canteen: A Thai cafe with a cool vibe

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BY KAREN YOUNG

A cool vibe is hanging over a new Thai cafe  developed by the owners of Gindi Thai in Toluca Lake and Summer Summer in Northern California’s Emeryville. Sleek and modern with an industrial look, the new venture, Summer Canteen, is situated in a corner mall at Lankershim and Riverside Drive.

The interior is a sleek and modern. Photos: Karen Young

Summer Canteen is a casual eatery  featuring indoor and outdoor seating, a black ceiling with exposed vents, eco-wood paneling, colorful art, and high and low communal wood tables mixed with smaller tables which are paired with grey metal chairs. An open kitchen and a large overhead chalkboard of specials welcomes as you walk in the door.

The cuisine primarily hails from Northern Thailand, Vietnam and Burma. Most dishes are familiar — curry, noodles, pad thai, and their “not so ordinary” orange chicken (the owner’s words), however there are a few dishes which are more unusual, such as Spicy Basil leaves with minced chicken (Grapow Gai) and Mussels With lemongrass, lime leaves and basil (Hoy mangpoo ob mor din); and Braised lamb shank in mussamun curry (peanut and  coconut spicy curry sauce).

Green Papaya and Shrimp Salad

Upon sitting, our server arrived with a bottle of water with a corked top accompanied by small glasses with thin slices of lemon and proceeded to fill our glasses. Throughout the lunch, she would come back on two other occasions to fill us up. I’ll never forget the first time I saw this done a couple years ago at Mozza, so it’s always a touch I appreciate.

For lunch we chose to share four items, however, there are special “lunch sets” that can be ordered individually that come with soup or salad and rice.

Crispy Crab & Shrimp on soy paper (Hoy Joy)

First up was the Crispy Crab and Shrimp on soy paper (Hoy Joy) — a mixture of crab meat and shrimp with coriander root and water chestnuts which is lightly fried and a moist middle and served with a honey like sweet and sour sauce presented on two white Asian soup spoons. Next we ordered the Green Papaya and Shrimp Salad (Aom Tum) — a spicy dish served in a red cabbage bowl with shredded papaya and a half dozen shrimp, it is topped with peanuts, tomatoes with a spicy lime juice dressing. For the last two dishes, we stuck with the more ordinary — Pad Thai which was flavorful and not oily — and the “Not-so-ordinary” Orange Chicken which is crispier and not as doughy as some Asian restaurants. The chicken was accompanied by unmilled brown rice, which as done here is brown and black rice mixed together with very tasty results.

Pad Thai

Portions are all well-sized, although I wish there was more shrimp on the Pad Thai and the Papaya Shrimp Salad.  Nevertheless, the ingredients are all fresh and beautifully prepared.

In a departure from other Thai restaurants and keeping with the modern design of the eatery, Summer Concept offers Virgin Mojitos and Coconut Water along with Thai Iced Tea and Iced Coffee. Dessert offerings are Melt Gelatos, including such flavors as Mascarpone Caramel Pistacio and Rum Raisin Gelato.

Unfortunately, we didn’t save room for dessert. Next time. I’ll be back.

"Not so ordinary" Orange Chicken

Summer Canteen, 4444 Lankershim Blvd. North Hollywood. 818-985-6611 $8-$14 a dish (the average being $9-$10). Lunch sets ($8.95-12) and include soup or salad and rice. Open 11am-10pm daily. www.summercanteen.com

Karen Young is the Founder/Editor of My Daily Find.  Questions? Suggestions? Email: karen@mydailyfind.com

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About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.

  • Cheryl

    Had a delicious dinner there last night. Stand out items on the menu were the Leaf-wrapped Savory Nibbles “miang kham” (six spinach leaves topped with shrimp, ginger, peanut and coconut with a sweet drizzle of tamarind sauce), Curry Noodle “kao soi” (yellow curry coconut noodle with chicken served in a large bowl – a generous portion with lots of delicious broth), and Summer Fried Rice “koa pad supparod” (a unique red/black hearty rice – what they call ‘unmilled brown rice’ – with shrimp, chicken, pineapple, curry powder raisins and cashews, topped with a fried egg). We brought our own wine and the server happily provided glasses.

    The only real ‘miss’ at Summer Canteen was the Mango Sticky Rice for dessert. The fresh mango was delicious, but the sticky rice was not particularly flavorful and just tasted like, well, slightly sweetened sticky white rice.

    Reasonable prices, open, airy and spacious with a great vibe. I hope they attract a steady dinner business as it was empty last night!

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