[HIGH THAI] Unless you eat at the Nahm Bangkok in Thailand, you probably haven't tried anything at Lang Baan. Tucked into the back of PaaDee, the restaurant makes a monthly tasting menu (nine courses at $40 or 11 at $60) full of Thai food otherwise unknown here, even at Pok Pok. August's menu devoted to the "floating market dining" on the canals of central Thailand, while its inaugural menu was devoted to the balanced richness of royal Thai cuisine. But expect each menu to begin with a variation on miang som, which compresses every flavor group in the Thai repertoire into a one-bite salad: salty-savory shrimp, sweet coconut, a jolt of chili and a tart burst of pomelo on an earthy, bitter betel leaf. It doesn't so much cleanse the palate as prime it for a show, like a bite before a kiss. A rare snack of dried snakehead fish has also surfaced more than once. Otherwise, expect surprises—sticky rice infused with watermelon water as ground for a Dungeness crab salad, or a lobster salad dish featuring the grapey pop of rambutan fruit amid bitter pennywort herb, mint, tamarind, coconut and spice. If you're willing to let the budget be damned, it's the most exciting Thai dinner in Portland. MATTHEW KORFHAGE.
The best pairings are often not on the wine list but the cocktail menu; the whiskey-tamarind and cognac-mango combos of the PaaDee and 12-Mile Limit offer the blend of spice, sweet and bitter needed to stand up to the food without clashing.