In Chiang Mai, khao soi borders on being a religious symbol. There's a family there that has been making the stuff for more than 70 years, and, although their eatery could easily be described as a hole in the wall, they have served multiple members of the Thai royal family. There's a man who regularly vacations to Northern Thailand for the express purpose of trying a few bowls a day, and it's said that Andy Ricker's inspiration for his culinary empire was his first taste of khao soi. The source of all this devotion is a deceptively simple curry noodle soup comprised of fresh egg noodles, a marinated chicken leg, and spicy curry paste dissolved in coconut cream. In Los Angeles, no one executes a better bowl of khao soi than Pailin, the Thai Town restaurant that has been serving some of the city's best Northern Thai cuisine for about 20 years. —James Gordon
5621 Hollywood Blvd., Hlywd., 90028. (323) 467-7715.