83. Khao Soi at S.T. Noodle Bar
Killer khao soi
Photos by Jennifer Fedrizzi
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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.
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.
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