After you place your order up front at Kin Len, a bar in Fremont from the owners of the popular Isarn Thai Soul Kitchen restaurants in Kirkland and Lynnwood, you're escorted to your seat in the main dining area, which is something like an amalgam of a trendy nightclub, an Epcot theme park version of a Thailand street market, and the Rainforest Cafe. Atmospheric beats throb in the background, and a splashy hot-pink neon sign glows in the dark above a bar fashioned to resemble a street food stall. Slightly fibrous, sticky-sweet threads of hand-pulled caramelized beef—chewy and reminiscent of jerky, served with a mound of sticky rice—make for an eminently satisfying drinking snack, while banana-blossom fries (sort of like the Thai answer to the bloomin' onion) find the fleshy, slender, artichoke-like flowers of the plant battered and fried to a crackly crisp, and served with a sweet chili sauce for dipping. I'd come back just for the obsessively good boat noodles—rice noodles swimming in a dark, aromatic, complex broth, with pork cracklings, morning glory, thin slices of beef, meltingly tender tendon, meatballs, tripe, and tongue. JULIANNE BELL
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