Behold the beginning of our annual 100 Favorite Dishes countdown! Every day until the publication of our fantabulous Best Of Issue, we'll list our favorite meals this year in descending order. Enjoy, pass it on, and tune in daily!
The standard spice level for S.T. Noodle Bar's khao soi--a bowl of flat, yellow egg noodles drowned in a coconut-curry broth--is medium. But as a few drops of the yellow liquid dribbled down my chin, I felt a warmness there. Then, soon after, it actually stung. I realized then that there were still two levels above medium--spicy and extra-spicy--but here I was, not even halfway through the bowl, and my whole mouth throbbed and my brow had turned into Niagara Falls.
If you had sat across the table from me, you would've thought I was in pain, but instead, I was in a euphoric state of endorphin-fueled pleasure, with John Mellencamp's "Hurts So Good" playing in my head.
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Yet the khao soi here isn't hot for the sake of being hot. It's just one facet in a dish that's also sweet, pungent and creamy--a curry soup so complex I took some of the leftover gravy home and doused it over plain rice, creating another dish that was just as good. At the restaurant, it's served with an accompanying side dish of add-ons that includes a thimble of sliced red onion, pickled Chinese vegetables, lime wedges, fried crispy noodles and an extra container of dark-as-crude chile sauce in case I wanted to compound the burn.
84. Chili Cone Queso at Cozy Cone Motel 85. Crispy Smelt at Big Catch Seafood 86. Teriyaki Chicken Plate at California Plate 87. Combo Plate at MasalaCraft 88. Cornbread Waffle & Chicken at Mrs. Bea's 89. Everything at Crispy Town 90. Kurobuta Pork Belly Bánh Mì at Mendocino Farms 91. Tostilocos at Tortas y Biónicos "Nice" 92. Milanesa at Delicias Peruanas 93. Super Nachos at Kelly's Korner Tavern 94. Tortas at Sliced and Diced Eatery 95. Seasonal Dumplings at Coconut Rabbit 96. Burrito de Birria de Res from Burritos La Palma 97. Bò Kho at Song Long Restaurant 98. Pancake Sandwich at Willowick Golf Course 99. Tahdig at Tanor Fresh Mediterranean Grill 100. Quatro Formaggi Panini at Old Vine Cafe