Monday 16 October 2017
Going to Chiang Mai? Want to try khao soi jungle curry? Take a look at the very best 5 spots to try this delicious dish in the city.
Khao soi - a well-known (and much loved) Northern Thai curry - is synonymous with Chiang Mai and can be found all over town in various guises. Its combination of coconut milk, Birdseye chilies, lemongrass, ginger, turmeric, garlic, makrut lime leaves, black cardamom pods, coriander seeds, palm sugar and Thai shrimp paste are unique among Thai curries, which has much to do with its alleged Burmese origins. It’s a comforting, warm dish that goes down well with curry enthusiasts and makes for an excellent introduction to Northern Thai cuisine.
Khao Soi curry can be made with lamb or pork, but is most often served with chicken (usually a leg or two), egg noodles (both wet and crispy), shallots, pickled mustard root and a good wedge of lime to cut through the rich sauce. The main thing that sets one khao soi apart from another is whether the sauce is predominantly a thicker coconut milk base or whether it has been watered down somewhat thinner. This can have a huge impact on the overall taste and quality of the meal you eat.
The dish can be found in many places all over town and each restaurant has its own recipe and its own take on the combination of ingredients, consistency and spiciness. Nearly all khao soi is good (I’ve never been served a truly awful one), but for true foodies I would wholeheartedly suggest trying at least two or three on your travels for the sake of comparison and to find a version of the dish that suits your palate.
A simple trick is to look if the restaurant bears the dishes name. If they stick khao soi in the title, they're going to be damn sure it's good. Bearing that in mind, here is our guide to the five best restaurants around town that specialize in this dish.
This established joint close to the Mosque and Worarot Market just outside the old city walls is one of the most famous places to try khao soi and reportedly sticks close to the original recipe. It's a Muslim restaurant, so look out for other tasty dishes like khao mok gai, a kind of Thai yellow biriyani. It's served in simply surroundings, but as with most Thai eateries, you go for the quality of the food, not the atmosphere.
22-24 Soi 1, Charoenprathet Road, Changklan, Chiang Mai 50000
Huen Phen Restaurant serves possibly the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai. Located in the old city it produces food in a homemade style from old family recipes and is a firm favourite with both locals and tourists. The restaurant has been running for over 40 years making it one of the longest running in town.
112 Rachamankha Rd, Chiang Mai 50200
It's easy to miss Khao Soi Wulai, a tiny restaurant located near Wat Lok Molee temple just outside the old town on Wulai Road. It's extremely popular with locals, but tourists never seem to find it. Their spicy broth laced with thick coconut milk is divine, as is the Burmese style pickled cabbage and roasted chili paste that cuts through the richness. Well worth the effort to find it. At 30 baht a bowl, it doesn't break the bank either.
Wulai Road, Chiang Mai, 50000
One of the best of a bunch and perhaps the most famous, Khao Soi Khun Yai (literally meaning Grandma's Khao Soi) is tucked away down a little alleyway. This doesn't stop the hordes of tourists who come for the delicious version with plenty of spice, a bounty of deep fried crispy noodles and without skimping on the coconut milk. They also do a mean nam ngiew, but that's another story.
Sri Poom Road, Chiang Mai, 50000
Some people swear by the khao soi at this large local restaurant, and for good reason, it's thick, creamy and has the little speaks of red oil floating on the top. It's rock bottom prices and excellent quality drive in the punters all day, so be sure to get in early. I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
391 Charoen Ras Road, Fah Haam Subdistrict, Chiang Mai, 50200
Want to get to know Northern Thai cuisine? Don't settle for mediocre food. Come and join us on our epic nightly food feast traversing Chiang Mai in search of the best hidden street eats.