Satdha Thai Kitchen
Catfish Eggplant and "un-fish cakes" at Satdha

In SoCal, we’ve seen it all when it comes to vegan cuisine. From molecular gastronomy date nights to nondairy frozen desserts, there are no surprises, right?

Well--not so fast. We’ve just discovered Satdha, a new Thai restaurant in Santa Monica devoted to plant-based dishes. Chef Gunn Pankum not only masters the cuisine’s complicated spices (she worked for years at Bulan restaurants), she also has a sixth sense for how to substitute veggies and tofu in place of traditional proteins. 

Start with the Tod Munn appetizer ($8), crispy “un-fish cakes” made from fried tofu, chickpeas and green beans that are served with a bright-flavored cucumber-peanut dipping sauce. For your entrée, opt for that culinary crucible, the Pad Thai ($9). Here it’s a fresh-tasting mélange of rice noodles, garlic chives, peanuts and pickled carrots, with baked tofu standing in for the usual chicken or shrimp. 

Love heat? Order the zesty Catfish Eggplant ($12), in which there’s no catfish at all but battered chunks of eggplant as a stand-in, coated in red curry paste alongside young peppercorns still on their tendrils.

Wash it all down with house-brewed lemongrass lemonade ($3) or, better yet, a glass of organic Cali Zinfandel ($13)--because food this creative deserves a Chai-yo (hurrah). 

Satdha, 2218 Lincoln Blvd., Santa Monica; 310-450-6999 or satdhakitchen.com

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