Thep Lela

411 Strawberry Village
Mill Valley, CA 94941



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April 27th, 2008

Thep Lela is possibly the best and definitely the most expensive Thai restaurant my wife and I have ever been to. We had an interesting appetizer, Kiang Man, that comprised small dishes of condiments sweet peanut paste, toasted coconut flakes, fresh ginger and red onion, fresh lime and red pepper, and peanuts that one places inside fresh spinach leaves. All the ingredients were very fresh, and the dish actually did what appetizers are supposed to do -- tickle the palette and make you eager for the main dish. The Pad Basil duck was well prepared, with a slow-building heat that retreated enough to let you enjoy subsequent bites. The grilled rack of lamb was tasty, tender, and smothered in a thick, velvety sauce from a family recipe. I tasted tomato, tamarind, brown sugar, peanuts, and the usual complex and subtle spice mix that characterizes Thai cooking. Both my wife and I quivered in delight over that dish. Service was pleasant, and the kitchen was swift. This was at 5:00 PM on a Sat., though; your may experience longer waits for the food and a table. We inquired about the pleasant music we were hearing, and the staff quickly found us the CD cases for us to jot down the title from. The decor was upscale casual: Thai sculpture and art adorn the walls, and tables have linen tablecloths and napkins. The only big negative in the experience was the lack of air conditioning. It was in the low 80s outside when we went, and it was the same indoors, but without fans. For a top-flight Thai meal, Thep Lela is the place.

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