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THAI-CHINESE ON A ROLL.

Byline: Larry Lipson Restaurant Critic

WHO WOULD EXPECT to encounter a flour tortilla at a new Thai-Chinese cafe in North Hollywood?

Not me.

Yet, there it was, at the recently opened Chopstick, which replaced Boonchoo in a no-frills, industrial-area location on Vanowen Street in a peculiarly spacious dining room. It looks like at any moment someone is going to request that the chairs and tables be moved to the side so everyone can begin dancing.

Meanwhile, the thin flour tortilla is used to make a ``Chopstick wrap'' ($6.95) that utilizes the kitchen's tasty roast duck meat, several daubs of a seasoned red-toned sauce, green onion, cilantro, carrot, cucumber and lettuce to make a refreshing rolled treat served up as four generous finger-food portions.

You'll find the same good duck meat in a delicious kang ped curry ($7.25), as spicy as you want it, with equal chunks of duck, pineapple and tomato swimming in a bowl of reddish, creamy curry.

Prefer the green curry?

Here you can enjoy it with pieces of catfish, the curry an intensely flavored saucing containing green beans, Thai eggplant, kaffir lime leaves, bamboo shoots, basil leaves, chile and green curry paste.

For something a bit more dramatic, Chopstick's kitchen sends out a whole wild tilapia ($9.50), head on, bones in, purportedly fried in a banana leaf.

Most of these specialties can be had with shrimp fried rice and steamed vegetables or by themselves with a side of steamed rice.

Soups here will give you a lift. I like the tom kha chicken ($5.50), tart and spicy, not overly coconut creamy, yet with all those great Thai flavorings (lemon grass, kaffir lime, tamarind, galanga root) and plenty of moist white-meat chicken, straw mushrooms and cabbage.

On the noodle side, yum woon sen ($5.99) gets my vote. If you can handle fiery chile spicing, ask for it hot. The result is a generous heap of those glasslike bean-thread noodles tossed with squid, shrimp, red onions, scallions, cilantro and minced pork, all boosted with an explosive shot of chile paste.

How about real meat. For a beef dish recommendation, Chopstick has one called ``crying tiger'' ($5.99), using grilled, seasoned slices of fairly chewable, good-tasting beef delivered with a spicy dipping sauce.

As for straying from Thai or even Thai-Chinese, the kitchen cooks Japanese tempura, teriyaki, edamame and gyoza, also Korean-style barbecued beef.

And of course there's that hint of Mexico from Chopstick's nifty tortilla-wrapped duck.

Larry Lipson, (818) 713-3668

larry.lipson(at)dailynews.com

CHOPSTICK THAI-CHINESE

Food: Three stars - Service: Three stars - Value: Three stars

Where: 11020 Vanowen St., North Hollywood.

Hours: Open for lunch, dinner and snacks from 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily except Sunday. Lunch specials available from 10:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays.

Recommended items: Tom kha chicken soup, yum woon sen noodles, crying tiger beef, heavenly fire grilled catfish in green curry sauce, whole wild tilapia, Chopstick duck wrap, kang ped duck curry, sticky rice with fresh mango.

How much: Everything under $10. Lunch specials $4.75 each.

Wine list: No alcohol.

Reservations: Taken. Call (818) 487-7179 or (818) 487-6949.

CAPTION(S):

photo

Photo:

Chris Thaosuwan, left, Pornthip Chinaksorn and Yindee Saiingchin are ready to introduce you to the unique blend of cuisines available at Chopstick in North Hollywood.

Joe Binoya/Special to the Daily News
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Article Type:Review
Date:May 28, 2004
Words:564
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