100 Favorite Dishes: Noodle jelly salad from Thai Street Food
No. 50: Noodle jelly salad from Thai Street Food
Several years ago, I hopped on a plane to Las Vegas -- not to push my luck playing penny slots, but to eat at Lotus of Siam, which I did, three times in one day. And then, fat, drunk and deliriously happy, I boarded a jet back to Denver. And I'd do it all over again in a heartbeat, because Lotus of Siam -- the original joint in Vegas, not New York -- is, frankly, the best Thai restaurant in the country, in part because of its nod to the cuisine of Isaan. (Jitlada, in Los Angeles, is a close second.) And for years, I've prayed to the gods of fish sauce, lemongrass and lime leaves that a Lotus of Siam outpost would magically appear in Denver.
I'm fairly certain that won't happen, and that's okay, because when Utumporn Killoran, who runs the Thai Street Food cart on the 16th Street Mall, opened a same-name brick-and-mortar this summer in Aurora, there was no longer a reason to mourn. From her tiny kitchen, which she runs with her husband and son, Killoran re-creates, at least closely, a Lotus of Siam experience. There's nothing on her tidy menu that I don't love, but her noodle jelly salad, which doesn't have jelly at all, exposes a soupy mound of glossy glass noodles tangled with ground pork, shrimp, cilantro, tomatoes and mint, pungent fragrances and the flame of fiery red chiles, the heat of which makes your stomach quake like a coin-operated waterbed. It's salty and sweet, sour and spicy, and it's quite possibly the best Thai dish I've had all year. Unfortunately, you can only get it on Saturdays, which is the only day that Thai Street Food is open.
Hungry for more? All the dishes in our countdown are linked below:
No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro
No. 73: Gumbo from Bistro One
No. 69: Mais pizza from Pizzeria Locale
No. 66: Sea scallop and rock shrimp noodle bowl from Bones
In late 2009, we embarked on a culinary journey that took us through our favorite dishes in the Mile High City -- one hundred, to be exact. Now we're back with round two, counting down (in no particular order) a hundred more of our favorite Denver dishes in a list that, by our imperfect calculations, should be wrapped up...sometime this year. If there's a dish you think we need to try, tell us about it in the comments section below, or shoot us an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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