Where to eat the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is a very touchy question. It will almost arouse the same argument as for or against pineapple on a pizza. We all have our favourite places. And there is nothing better than a homemade Khao Soi!
What is Khao Soi?
First, what is khao soi? It is a curry-based soup noodle with both fresh and dry, crunchy noodles with your choice of main meat or tofu. Topped sometimes with cilantro, it is a comforting soup. Unusually enough for the North of Thailand it is based on coconut milk.
The ethnic group that was credited with bringing the dish here are the Haw Jin. Muslim Chinese traders and workers came via the Shan state in Myanmar.
Coconut milk was not originally part of the recipe, and the Shan version is still with rice noodles rather than egg noodles. So there has been some evolution on the way. Read more about the origins of Khao Soi in the archive of the Eating Asia blog.
Remember that Khao Soi, first and foremost, is a lunch dish. Nonetheless, it is available at certain restaurants at night as well.
The original recipe is chicken-based, but nowadays, you can get your khao soi with beef, pork, tofu or some places even with boar.
On the side, Somebody will serve you pickled cabbage, chilli oil, lime wedges and shallots. For some westerners, it can be even more confusing that the Khao Soi is supposed to be eaten with chopsticks and a spoon. Eating soup with chopsticks?! Well, here, pasta beards are accepted. You are not supposed to finish the whole curry broth either. As long as you have noodles, you eat. The rest you leave behind.
I like my Khao Soi at…
Trace the origins of Khao Soi at Khao Soi Islam on soi 1 Charoen Prathet off the Chang Klang road. They have been around for over 50 years and started as hawkers. The concept was that they should feed the Jin Haw that came as migrant workers to the region with a taste of home.
- Try this place. Dong Dok Mei noodles. ก๋วยเตี๋ยวดงดอกเหมย. Not far from Veranda resort and the White Pagoda. All the noodles are delicious there. The duck noodle is famous too.
- Khao Soi Fa – home is a classic, and my choice is usually the beef Khao Soi. They offer many savoury dishes actually for a low price. Indeed a very extensive menu.
- Khao Soi Khun Yai Inexpensive and delicious. The reviews are so positive, and there are plenty of them, for sure one of the west Khao Soi you can get in Chiang Mai.
- At the Gallery by the Ping river, you can also order Khao Soi. It is very flavorful but might need some additional spices.
So it is hard to say where the best Khao Soi is. But it is comforting that there are plenty of choices of places where to have Khao Soi in Chiang Mai. Check out the map below for more suggestions.
Khao Soi Map
Some Khao Soi recipes from the web.
Study this video for an excellent beef Khao Soi.
And here is a popular formula for chicken Khao Soi.