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. 100: Italian wedding soup from the Squeaky Bean No. 99: American Classic Burger (and fries) from Tarbell's No. 98: E's clam linguini from Mangiamo Pronto No. 97: Queso a la plancha taco from the Pinche Tacos wagon No. 96: Prosciutto-wrapped jalapeño poppers from Tony's Market No. 95: Fried chicken from the Pinyon No. 94: Seafood soup from Farro No. 93: Posole from The Porker No. 92: Breakfast Burrito from the Taco Wagon in Lafayette No. 91: Hummus from Shish Kabob Grill No. 90: Albondigas meatballs from Solera No. 89: Lemon-ricotta doughnuts from Olivéa No. 88: Döner kabob from Shondiz No. 87: Roasted cauliflower salad from Euclid Hall No. 86: Beef cheek enchiladas from El Diablo No. 85: Fried Brussels sprouts from Panzano No. 84: Pork osso buco from Osteria Marco No. 83: Cazuela Colombiana from Cafe Brazil No. 82: Chicken potpie from Devil's Food No. 81: Sichuan braised beef noodle soup from Zoe Ma Ma No. 80: Larb nua from Taste of Thailand No. 79: Pork shank from Argyll No. 78: Truffo panino from Shangri-La Cafe No. 77: Pig-snout tacos from Guadalajara Authentic Mexican Buffet No. 76: Speck and maple ice cream from Pizzeria Basta No. 75: Tom yum goong from Thai Flavor No. 74: South African black ruff from TAG No. 73: Gumbo from Bistro One No. 72: New England clam chowder from Bittersweet No. 71: Celery and lime popsicle from Spuntino No. 70: Curried split pea soup from Modmarket No. 69: Mais pizza from Pizzeria Locale No. 68: Risotto frutti di mare from Firenze a Tavola No. 67: Frico caldo from Frasca Food & Wine No. 66: Sea scallop and rock shrimp noodle bowl from Bones No. 65: Luther Burger from Crave No. 64: Chongqing Chicken from East Asia Garden No. 63: Bouillabaisse from Deluxe No. 62: Crue fries from D Bar Desserts No. 61: Chili gobi from Jai Ho No. 60: New Mexican eggs Benedict from DJ's Berkley Cafe No. 59: Lamb vindaloo from Cuisine of the Himalayas No. 58: Gazpacho verde from Zolo Grill No. 57: Hama Hama oyster from Jax Fish House-Denver No. 56: Mixiote de borrego from El Trompito Taqueria No. 55: Samosas from the British Bulldog No. 54: Mole verde with carnitas from Tarasco's No. 53: Pork chop from Le Grand Bistro & Oyster Bar No. 52: Santa Fe skillet from Hits the Spot Diner No. 51: Pork tenderloin with bread pudding and green split peas from the Wooden Table
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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