Itching for a new noodle thrill, I contemplated heading for Amphawa Thai Noodle House on Geary Boulevard for khao soi, having heard good reports on their version. While perusing an online menu, however, another noodle soup item which I'd never heard of before caught my eye, Sukhothai Noodle Soup, described as "hot & spicy noodle soup with roasted pork, ground pork, fish balls, green beans, cabbage and peanuts." A little online research uncovered a couple of interesting things about this dish: for one, a CNN Travel post pegged Kuaytiaw Sukhothai (i.e. Sukhothai Noodles) "the best Thai dish you've never heard of." Secondly, as far as I could determine, Amphawa Thai is the only restaurant in San Francisco serving this dish, at least under that name. Bingo! My lunch plan was made.
Amphawa Thai Noodle House, which I'd so often passed on the #38 Bus, is as tidy as it is tiny inside. It has the appearance of a family-run restaurant (by a family with pride in its product) and serves family-style Thai meals. It was about half full at 1:15 on a Wednesday, and I was seated at a cozy corner two-top and promptly served.
"Very spicy," I said.
"Are you sure?" she said.
The server came came to refill my glass of ice water just as I was reaching the bottom of my bowl. "Oh," she exclaimed "you can eat spicy!" I am from Mars, apparently.
I'll have to add that there was nothing special about the roti, which was a bit on the oily side and oddly overpriced at $6.50 for a small portion. As for my $8.95 bowl of Sukhothai noodles, however, it is in strong contention for a spot on my not yet existent "10 Best SF Noodle Dishes" list.
Where slurped: Amphawa Thai Noodle House, 5020 Geary Boulevard, between 14th and 15th Avenues.
*I came across an interesting post by Thai blogger Natayada on Sukhothai noodles and his quest for an authentic version in the city of Sukhothai. Unable to find them in that city at all, he developed a theory that the dish may have been created at Sukhothai Palace in a district of Bangkok known as Sukhothai. He also highlights the differences between Sukhothai noodles and Tom Yum, whic also has a spicy-sour-sweet broth.