QUESTION: After reading your review of Sapp, we felt like our secret had been discovered. It is like so many good, friendly places we found in Thailand. But where, oh where, is there a place that excels in the rich and satisfying noodle stew of northern Thailand, khao soi? It is one of our favorite breakfasts in Chiang Mai.
—Patrick, Los Angeles
ANSWER: Khao soi is one of my favorite Thai coups too, springy egg noodles, a thick, coconut-scented curried chicken broth, and about a million little garnishes that usually include toasted noodles, quartered shallots, shredded cabbage and the tiniest slivers of whole limes. It’s probably the most famous dish of northern Thailand. And as far as I know, out of the zillion and a half Thai restaurants and noodle shops in Thaitown and environs, khao soi is served at none of them.
Top Thai, in central Reseda, is probably not the first place you would look for a bowl of these noodles. It looks like a place straight out of the suburban-Thai playbook, down to the glass-topped tables and the generic art on the walls. At most times of day, the customer base seems to tend toward locals intent on bland stir-fries. Yet there is a semisecret section of the menu crammed with northern-style dishes — chile dips, and sticky rice, and sour sausages, and fragrant pork stews — among them, a very passable version of khao soi, a giant bowlful that would probably be intended to feed a family of six if you came across it in Chiang Mai. 7333 Reseda Blvd., Reseda, (818) 705-8902.