Leading up to this year's Best of L.A. issue (due out Oct. 4), we'll be counting down, in no particular order, 100 of our favorite dishes.
92: Thai Boat Noodles at Pa-Ord.
You ask a friend with a reputation for never traveling beyond Sepulveda if she wants to join you for Thai food. She tells you, oh, of course, she loves Thai; can't get enough of it. But you furrow your eyebrows doubtfully as you cruise eastward along Hollywood Boulevard. This isn't pad Thai, or yellow curry, or pad see ew, you explain. This is graduate-level stuff -- the Bitches Brew of Bangkok cuisine. You're headed to a specialist of extra-murky boat noodles, or kuay tiew rua, one of the country's most beloved street foods.
The broth is dark as a jungle and wildly intense. Funky as a Parliament track. Thickened with pork blood and perfumed with star anise. Unrelentingly spicy, with zaps of sweet and sour nipping the edges of your tongue. The bowl is filled with scraps of offal you might not be able to identify: perforated squares of tripe, a slice of liver or spleen, a handful of crushed-up chicharron and a fish ball or two bobbing in the soup like pale caramel apples. A bit of chopped scallion, cilantro and some young bok choy leaves are tossed in. There are some slippery rice noodles, too, wide or thin, based on your preference. But really, it's all about that broth -- if you've ever wondered what those cartoon witches were stirring in their bubbling cauldrons, this might be the closest guess.
Check out the rest of our 100 of our favorite dishes. Suggestion? Write us a comment.
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