FROM THE SIDEWALK on SE 28th, all you can see of Lang Baan are the tops of succulents in rough wood planters; a shade obscures the activity within. A top-knotted waitress ushers your party to the back, pulls a handle on a false bookshelf and leads you into the open kitchen and tiny dining room, where PaaDee's Akkapong "Earl" Ninsom is already laying out the betel leaf for the first course. This is where you and a select few will spend the next two hours of your life sampling 10 to 13 courses of Thai tastes and textures rarely seen outside of Siam. While PaaDee is billed as Thai comfort food, its hidden jewel, Lang Baan, is pushing far outside of those cozy confines and into the exciting realms of refined and challenging plates. Like a salmon ceviche with Thai eggplant and orange, Lang Baan is the kind of thing Portland didn't know it needed until it was served to us, perfectly spiced. ANDREA DAMEWOOD
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