Where to find khao soi in L.A.: 5 great places for the addictive northern Thai curry soup
When the weather finally cools down to what we might consider proper soup weather, you might want to head to Thai Town and its environs, where you can find bowls of immensely comforting khao soi. This would be the northern Thai coconut curry soup, loaded with noodles, often (but not always) a leg of chicken and an egg, topped with a flourish of crunchy fried noodles. Served with a small plate of DIY garnishes — onions, pickled vegetables, a wedge of lime — this is about as perfect a dinner as you can have on a crisp, blustery night, or really any night.
Here are five great places for khao soi in and around Thai Town:
Khao Soi by Inthanon Thai
This new restaurant on the eastern edge of Hollywood, which looks plucked from the pages of Etsy, you have your pick from an impressive list of almost a dozen bowls of khao soi. There is, as you might expect, the traditionalist’s option, with a chicken leg; there’s also khao soi with braised beef or with shrimp or with tofu. Khao soi with crispy pork? Of course. While you are obviously here for the restaurant’s namesake dish, the rest of the menu is pretty stellar too — try the nam khao tod, a crispy rice salad with generous slices of sausage. 5907 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (323) 464-1790, facebook.com/Khaosoihollywood.
Here, a small stage occupies a good portion of the main floor; some nights, there’s a band up there. On others, the karaoke machine is out and ready. Thus if your idea of fun is khao soi and live music, you’ve come to the right place: The restaurant makes a solid version of the soup, complete with fried noodles roughly the size of a softball. This, along with a beer or two, is not a bad way to spend a Saturday night. 5151 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 667-9800.
Pailin Thai Cuisine
A cozy restaurant with but a handful of tables and booths in the heart of Thai Town, this spot makes fantastic, deeply flavorful bowls of khao soi; indeed, some say its version is one of the best in all of Los Angeles, and it’s hard not to agree. The burnt-orange coconut curry broth here has a tinge of spice and is especially punchy with lemongrass; you’ll do well to be liberal with the accouterments. In addition to the khao soi, Pailin’s fried larb balls and other northern and northeast Thai dishes are wonderful too. 5621 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles, (323) 467-7715.
Yank the front door open here — you must yank; the door is stubborn — and you will be amply rewarded with terrific khao soi. The soup comes with your choice of chicken or beef, and the dense broth is sweetened by a bit of extra coconut milk that tops off the bowl right before serving. And since you’re already here, you may as well order something else from the northern Thai part of the menu. The fiery, sinus-clearing green chile paste called nam prik oom, perhaps? 5101 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles.
Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle
You’re on the hazy border where Silver Lake, Los Feliz and East Hollywood seem to overlap, in a plaza that also houses an Indian buffet, a dentistry and a beauty salon, in a restaurant with turquoise walls, pop celebrity art (President Obama, Bruce Lee) and lychee slushies in handled mason jars. Wat Dong Moon Lek Noodle is packed regularly with folks from the neighborhood and a pretty good dinner option after you’ve spent a working afternoon sipping cortados at Dinosaur Coffee nearby. It’s certainly a good option if all you want is khao soi; a little thinner and a little sweeter than others, it will hit the spot when the mood strikes. 4356 Fountain Ave, Los Angeles, (323) 666-5993, watdongmoonlek.com.
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