People travel to South East Asia to relax, to experience different cultures and lifestyles, to shop and of course to sample the food. All of those things bring me back time and again but some of my fondest memories tend to centre around the food; market food, hotel food, fine dining restaurants, street stalls. I love trying them all. I read blogs and articles before each trip to catch up on the latest places to eat and the dishes to try.
From my very first visit to the charming Thai city of Chiang Mai almost 20 years ago Khao Soi has remained one of my top dishes to indulge in and I try to indulge in it as often as possible. With its rich, creamy curry sauce with the combination of soft and crunchy egg noodles Khao Soi is the Thai version of Malaysian Laksa. The addition of the ubiquitous garnishes of pickled mustard greens, shallots and lime takes it to a whole new level of tastebud sensations. Add your chosen amount of chilli paste and you're good to slurp!
During my last sourcing trip to Chiang Mai my first thoughts revolved around how many bowls of Khao Soi I could fit in during that short stay of 4 days. I am proud to say I managed it five times and each was a slightly different delight. As this dish is probably the most popular Northern Thai noodle dish, there were restaurants and stalls everywhere devoted entirely to this soup – on the sides of temples, along dusty roads, just outside the city gates, inside trendy restaurants and everyone has their favourite and specific recipe.
Even as I was waiting at Chiang Mai Airport to return to Bangkok, the only real sit down restaurant there was a Khao Soi Restaurant. Of course I had to stop and sample their delicious Khao Soi and very much enjoyed reading the history of Khao Soi in their menu.
Check out these locations for favourite Khao Soi picks in Chiang Mai:
Lamduon Fahrm Kaosoi, a 70+ year old Chiang Mai institution with two locations. We went to the original on Charoen Rat Road, an easy walk or tuk-tuk ride from the old city center. Usual Khao Soi meat is chicken but here there's more choice including the delicious spare rib version. Messy to eat but utterly sublime.
Khao Soi Khun Yai (ข้าวซอยคุณยาย), Sri Poom 8 Alley, Mueang Chiang Mai District – Grandma’s Khao Soi or how we like to know her "the Khao Soi Lady."The restaurant is almost hidden between two temples. Walk in the gate, and on the left hand side you’ll see the stall with a few tables around it. If you have trouble finding it, ask the massage parlour girls next door and look out for the Khao Soi lady's yellow sign. Do try and find it though - it is absolutely worth it. We ran in just as they were about to close the gate at 2pm but they stayed open for us. Fantastic.
Khao Soi Cafe, Chiang Mai Airport - your final Khao Soi fix before leaving town. A must do.
Craving Khao Soi in Sydney?
Great news is that Khao Soi seems to be popping up in more authentic Thai eateries around town.
You can't go past Chat Thai at the Galeries Shopping Mall, 5/500 George St, Sydney City
A new addition to the authentic Thai scene is at Jorjarn - Khao Soi with a good hit of pickles and chilli. 9-13 Hay Street, Shop F5, Level 1, Market City, Haymarket
If it's on the specials menu at Pepper Seeds Boutique Bitesin Balmain and Broadway, the Khao Soi comes with bowls of pickles and chilli on the side so you can add according to your taste. 10/418 Darling Street, Balmain & Shop 221 Level 2 Broadway Shopping Centre, Glebe.
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