First Taste: Jaopaya in Reseda

Crispy, saucy fish just like they make on the banks of the Chao Phraya River.

The Chao Phraya River (sometimes known as the Jaopaya) is the main water way through Thailand. Well-travelled by many, it’s popular enough that food boats and floating restaurants line its banks. These floating restaurants offer Thai cuisine of all kinds, but most specialize in the food source found right under its floors―fish.

Reseda’s newest Thai restaurant, Jaopaya, respects the river’s traditions. One of the most ordered fish plates is pla rad prik or fish in tamarind sauce. Tilapia is the fish of choice at Jaopaya although most any type of white fish could be used here.

This whole fried fish’s dominant flavors are sweet, sour, and spicy. Tamarind, lime, and sugar make up most of the sweet and sour profiles while Thai chiles furnish the peppery kick.

Perhaps the best feature of Jaopaya’s rendition of pla rad prik is that the tamarind sauce doesn’t sit thickly atop the fish. That might render it soggy. Rather, most of the sauce pools beneath it, while a slick of sauce coats the top. The fried skin is almost shatteringly crisp.

Thai Town in Hollywood may be in the spotlight right now for excellent, authentic Thai cuisine, but Reseda Boulevard in the Valley might just start luring patrons over with the heady scent of fish sauce. Jaopaya Thai Restaurant, 7321 Reseda Blvd., Reseda, 818-578-8177.