Latitudes Thai is the type of place on Lincoln Boulevard in Santa Monica you could pass by all your life and never know it’s there. On an ugly stretch near body shops, fast food restaurants and stores that advertise they are open to the public (which means the public has no need to ever come), this is a surprisingly good Thai restaurant that won’t make you forget anywhere in Thai Town, or Cholada in Malibu for that matter, but will do nice work in satisfying a craving for tom yum, pad see ew or even on occasion dishes that go beyond the normal Westside delivery Thai.
The inside is nicer than many of the other ethnic locales dotting this neighborhood but everyone knows that’s not saying much. On this occasion the annoying television in the far wall is playing a nature show on insects preying on other insects. It is either the coolest or most repulsive show ever to play while The Monster is dining. He’s going with coolest. What that spider just did defies explanation.
The Monster has worked his way through much of the regular menu as well as the specials listed on the blackboard. These “specials” have often proven delicious but just how much one wants to define them as specials depends on their definition of the word. The Monster does not believe the blackboard has ever changed.
On this occasion the order is the crab rolls, tom yum with chicken, crab fried rice and the garlic prawns. It’s a mixture of tried and true favorites and two new dishes.
As usual, The Monster also orders extra peanut sauce. Everything tastes better with a bit of peanut sauce.
The crab rolls are surprisingly good. They taste fresh, the accompanying sauce reminds The Monster of the cucumber and vinegar sauce that comes with chicken satay. For a new try this may become a staple.
The tom yum is its usual delicious self. It’s a large portion meant for sharing with a satisfying broth both citrusy and a tad spicy and enough vegetables to give it heft. None is left behind.
The main courses are a bit hit and miss. The crab fried rice is notable for the large pieces of real crab and the rice being well cooked. This isn’t the leftover rice served at so many other establishments. That being said, it’s in need of more seasoning. Overall it’s a bit bland but that’s what peanut sauce (and some chili paste) is for. All mixed together and this transforms into a winner.
The garlic prawns are served over noodles and have a bit of kick. Too bad there aren’t more prawns and a touch more garlic.
On other occasions The Monster has sampled the scallop special (chu-chee curry with eggplant and red and green peppers), the catfish special (with apple, cashew, red onion and scallion in a special sauce) and the duck special (with curry, lychee and Thai basil) Only the duck should be avoided.
Why go? You love Animal Planet.
Monster rating: 3/5 Monsters
2906 Lincoln Boulevard
Santa Monica, CA 90405