When people think of Thai food dishes, pad thai and green curry often come to mind. But for those having visited the north of Thailand, khao soi curry noodles may very well be the dish they they most fondly remember. Find the restaurants with the Best Khao Soi in Northern Thailand.
Creamy in texture and packing the same intense flavours as a curry at it’s best, khao soi is the ‘national dish’ of northern Thailand. It is made with either chicken, beef or pork, and with crispy and soft egg noodles; it is also one of the only dishes in the northern Thai kitchen which contains coconut milk. The condiments eaten with this dish are lime, shallots, pickled mustard greens, and an almost dry chilli paste made from roasted red chillis.
Conflicting information exists as to the origins of this northern dish — some claim it of Burmese origin, whereas others say the dish was brought to Thailand and Burma by Muslim immigrants from Yunnan province in China. Whatever the truth may be, the fact remains: visiting the north of Thailand without trying khao soi is like traveling to France and not eating croissant, or Macau without indulging in egg tarts, or Catalonia without having paella. So without further ado, here is our guide to the best places to indulge in this northern delicacy in Chiang Mai and Lampang.
1. Khao Soi Lam Duan Fa Ham, Chiang Mai
Khao Soi Lam Duan Fa Ham is one of the more well known khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai. It’s located on Charoenrat Road, which runs along the river on its east side and also goes under the name of Thanon Faham. The restaurant is fairly simple with wooden furniture covered in blue plastic. The menu has khao soi with chicken, beef, pork and spareribs as well as kanom jeen nam ngiaw, which is another popular regional dish, and various herbal drinks. A bowl of khao soi costs THB35 (~US$1) and the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m.
Khao Soi Lam Duan Fa Ham, 352/22, Charoenrat Road, Chiang Mai
2. Khao Soi Samoe Jai, Chiang Mai
Further north of Thanon Faham, or Charenrat Road, lies Khao Soi Samoe Jai, another one of Chiang Mai’s khao soi institutions. The menu comprises an array of northern Thai dishes including khao soi, kanom jeen nam ngiaw, gaeng hang lay, nam prik and others. The crispy noodles are extra crispy here and the soup one of the most aromatic we tried. At the entrance, the first thing you’ll notice are large pots with simmering khao soi broth which is then poured over the noodles before it is topped with the crispy noodles. A bowl of khao soi with chicken costs THB40 (~US$1.20) and the restaurant opens at 8 a.m. and closes at 4 p.m.
Khao Soi Samoe Jai, 391 Charoenrat Road, Chiang Mai
3. Khao Soi Khun Yai, Chiang Mai
Khao Soi Khun Yai is located in the city centre, on Sri Boom Road between Wat Monthian and Wat Kuan Kama. There is no real shop front and the restaurant is hidden in a small alley, away from the main road. There is no English language signage, but its location between the two temples makes it relatively easy to find. The restaurant is only open for lunch on Mondays to Saturdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. and it visited mainly by locals who come during their office lunch hours. The broth is very rich and the noodles are perfectly made with just the right crunch and bite. The menu has khao soi with chicken an beef as well as normal rice noodles with tom yam soup. A bowl of khao soi chicken costs THB 30 (~US$0.90) while khao soi beef comes in at THB35 (~US$1).
4. Khao Soi Islam, Lampang
If you’re in Lampang and craving khao soi, a visit to Khao Soi Islam might be your answer. The restaurant has been serving the curried noodles in chicken and beef variations since the 1970s, and around 11 a.m., the owner, Khun Wittaya — who in recent years took over the shop from his 92 year old father — starts up the barbecue grill for chicken satay skewers. A bowl of khao soi costs just THB30 (~US$0.90) and comes with the usual condiments of chilli, shallots, lime and mustard greens. Khao Soi Islam is loctaed on Pongsanook Road just north of Ratsada Bridge. The restaurant opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 2 p.m. or when the day’s batch has been sold out.
5. Khao Soi Boomyuen, Lampang
Another khao soi restaurant worth visiting in Lampang is Khao Soi Boomyuen. The restaurant is located on Wang Khong Road, just 100 metres from the Ratsada intersection. The restaurant serves khao soi with chicken, pork, beef and beef meat balls as well as satay and egg noodles with clear soup and sliced red pork. The khao soi chicken is served with the meat on the bone and the huge portions cost just THB40 (~US$1.20) for the piquant feast.
Khao Soi Boonyuen, Wang Khong Road, Lampang