Some Thai dishes are well-known to foreign visitors, but there are other regional specialities that don’t always get the recognition they perhaps deserve. One such dish is khao soi which is synonymous with northern Thailand and particularly Chiang Mai. Khao soi owes its origins to a mixture of influences dating back to the 15th and 16th centuries. The dish is believed to have evolved from Chinese Muslim traders who plied the spice route when what is now modern-day northern Thailand was under the control of the Burmese.
Khao Soi Ingredients
The dish has continued to evolve over the years and nowadays each restaurant or food stall will have its own way of preparing and serving the dish. However, the basic ingredients of khao soi remain the same. Soft, flat egg noodles are served in a curry broth together with a choice of meat (chicken, pork or beef) and topped with crispy fried noodles. To accompany khao soi, which is eaten with chopsticks and a spoon, small side dishes are also served which enable the individual diner to adjust the sweetness or sourness of the broth. These condiments are usually a lime wedge, pickled cabbage, shallots and dried curry paste. Khao soi is a lunchtime favourite and there aren’t many places that serve it in the evening. A typical roadside eatery serves khao soi for between 30 to 40 Baht a bowl. Don’t think you’ve been short-changed when a large bowl arrives which is less than half-full; this is to aid the mixing of ingredients and is a typical way of serving many Thai noodle or curry-based dishes.
Where to Eat Khao Soi
Khao soi can be found in Bangkok and other places in Thailand, but it is more common in the north and it is probably Chiang Mai where it is most famous. If you are worried about not being able to speak Thai, there are a number of very good local restaurants in Chiang Mai on the Inthawarorot road (just behind the Three Kings Monument) where you should have no problems. Also in Chiang Mai, I highly recommend the Just Khao Soy restaurant on the Charoen Prathet road which is located behind the Anusarn Market and Night Bazaar. The food and service here is excellent and it is a great introduction to the delights of khao soi. Expect to pay around 100 to 150 Baht for a bowl of khao soi here, but presentation is exquisite on an artist’s palette (pictured right) and the servings are larger than at the roadside eateries so you still get superb value for money. You can choose exactly how you want your food and there is also a vegetarian option. Just Khao Soy is open daily from 11.00 to 23.00.
photos © Thaizer