Dear Mr. Gold:
I just returned from a trip to Southeast Asia, and while in northern Thailand, I discovered the yellow noodle dish with chicken in curry and coconut milk, known as khao soi. It's the perfect winter comfort food (spicy and creamy, sweet and sour) and I'd like to find it in L.A. I know Jitlada specializes in southern Thai food but am not sure where to find a restaurant that specializes in northern Thai and possibly does a decent version of the dish.
--Mary G., Silver Lake
Dear Ms. G.:
Have you been to Lotus of Siam in Las Vegas? Their khao soi is just about perfect, simultaneously dense and delicate, with enough raw chile heat to give the soup some treble. I even like the version they do with salmon, which is the kind of thing I tend to disdain. There are, however, a certain number of northern-leaning Thai restaurants in
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the L.A. area, and you don't need to go as far as Chiang Mai or Las Vegas.
Top Thai in Northridge has a nice version of khao soi, a little mild-mannered but with all the various crunchy mix-ins you need to make the noodle dish complete, and the khao soi at Renu Nakorn in Norwalk is certainly creditable. Sri Siam in North Hollywood has been serving northern dishes in Los Angeles longer than anyone, I think: Its thick, gravylike khao soi should be considered.
But the definitive local khao soi may be at Spicy BBQ, with its emblematic egg noodles in a dense, spicy chicken-coconut broth, garnished with a big handful of delicately fried egg noodles, served with diced red onions and crunchy homemade pickles that the waitress will insist you mix into the bowl. The version is a little controversial -- let's just say it's probably not what you would have been served at a roadside noodle stand in 1953, but it is undeniably delicious.
Spicy BBQ: 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Hollywood; (323) 663-4211.