Sunday, October 21, 2007

Sapp Coffee Shop: The Vampire Lunch

Eating at Sapp Coffee Shop in Thai Town has loomed as a requirement for the aspiring foodie ever since Anthony Bourdain dined there on No Reservations. So on a Saturday afternoon, I dragged Marisa to the Thai lunchroom, though I forgot to inform her why Sapp has such a forbidding reputation. To wit: Sapp Coffee Shop, which must inhabit the sallowest dining room in any building not serving a penal function, is best known to food geekdom for offering a blood-thickened broth of Thai boat noodles with beef tendon, tripe, liver and testicle, which the menu dubiously translates as “meat ball.” We stayed clear of the offal and ordered the version with beef brisket, which was topped with cilantro and chicharrones. The savory brown broth was thick, moderately spicy and had an undercurrent of sweetness. Another blogger claimed to smell “soy sauce, sugar, vinegar, cilantro and green onions” in the broth, and I’ll just take this person’s word for it. The blood-and-testes option notwithstanding, the soup’s flavors were straightforward, i.e., much less exotic than expected, and could be easily bowdlerized by the Campbell’s Soup Company. The otherwise hospitable staff was remiss in not forewarning us that bovine cruor is a soporific, as a coffee on the drive home would have been useful.

We tried three other dishes, most disappointing of which was the som tom or papaya salad. At its best, a salad of grated fresh green papaya with lime and dried shrimp can be refreshing and spicy, but at Sapp the papaya was foul and depressing, the lime absent, and the dish inedible. A plate of fish balls in a green curry sauce and spirals of languid noodles wasn’t bad, even if the sauce had the consistency of mud.

The most interesting dish of the day was the crab fried rice with crab paste, Chinese broccoli, and scrambled egg. A burly crab flavor dominated the dish, and the freshly scrambled eggs' richness stood up to and complemented the crab. However, the rice itself was served at too high a temperature and thus had little taste and insubstantial texture. The kitchen bizarrely served the fried rice alone and last, like a main course, an unwelcome way to conclude a misfire of a lunch.

Sapp Coffee Shop
5183 Hollywood Blvd.
East Hollywood
(323) 665-1035


SinoSoul said...

You forgot to mention the salt & the MSG. I can't imagine Marisa's body suffering through the bloat next morning after. People that night seemed to like Sapp more than ORD. I, otoh, will stick to ORD.

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