• Michael Acevedo

A Pedacito of Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand

Updated: Jun 7, 2021

I went to Chaing Mai on my second trip to Thailand. I really love Bangkok but on my second trip, I felt like I should get to know more about other parts of Thailand. Chiang Mai came highly recommended to me by a few people but especially Hilcia and Jameel! They are avid travelers and people that I look up to professionally and personally. You should check out their blog, which in part inspired me to start Pedacitos: https://localyetnot.com/


I have a lot to share about Chiang Mai, but I will split that up into a few different posts. This post is specifically about one of my favorite foods of all time, one that I would not have ever found had I not traveled to this Northern Thai city. I must say, I love Thai food, but Khao Soi is by far the best Thai dish I have ever had.


Also, I watch a LOT of YouTube videos about travelers, especially their food adventures, and when I decided on going to Chiang Mai I discovered lots of videos where people talk about Khao Soi and one place in particular: Khao Soi Khun Yai!


This restaurant is not unlike many other restaurants in Chiang Mai. It has an open-air kitchen and dining room and is adjacent to a beautiful temple. The heart of the city is a walled area with a moat and this restaurant is on the northern perimeter of the walled city. It was about a 40-minute walk from the hotel where I was staying, but I coupled this visit with a walk to many other beautiful sights along the way.

Chiang Mai's Khao Soi Khun Yai


Do you know the characteristics that make up a good restaurant? If the menu is just a couple of items, you know they do those items well! Khao Soi Khun Yai has a very small menu. There are just three food items on the menu here, each with a couple of meat choices, and range in price from 30 to 40 Thai Baht (that's literally about $1 USD).


I, of course, being the overindulgent American, opted for the large Beef Khao Soi which ran me 60 Thai Baht, which I think is less than $2 USD.


This dish has to be the best thing I have ever eaten in my life! It hits all of the best things about Thai food. It is savory because of the delicious rendered beef fat. It is slightly acidic and tangy from the fish sauce.


There's a good amount of spice coming from the curry and Thai chilies but it is expertly balanced by just the right amount of creamy and cool coconut milk. The combination of cilantro, shallots, and ginger adds a bit of freshness and sweetness.

A bowl of beef Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the popular Khao Soi Khun Yai
A bowl of beef Khao Soi in Chiang Mai, Thailand at the popular Khao Soi Khun Yai

If you're anything like me, the flavor is just one aspect of enjoying any dish - the texture is key! Thai food, in my opinion, is excellent at playing not only with flavors but also with textures. I'm sure you can imagine the creaminess of the broth with the key components being rendered beef fat and coconut milk.


However, the real fun comes in when you get a bite of the super tender beef, the springy egg noodle, and the crisp of the fried noodles that serve as a pretty garnish and an important contrast to the other components.


I'm not kidding when I say this has got to be the best thing I've ever eaten: and boy have I eaten! On just a sip of the broth, I dropped my soup spoon and just shook my head, thinking "how is this as good as it is?!" This was quite the treat in Chiang Mai and I am hoping that I can find a restaurant here in Florida that can even reach 50% of what this dish was able to do... If you know of a place, let me know!


Chiang Mai's Halal Kao Soi Fueng Fah


I tried Khao Soi in one other restaurant while I was in Chiang Mai to see if what I experienced at the first restaurant was a fluke. I'm happy to say that it was not! I stopped at Kao Soi Fueng Fah on my last day in the city for a different take on the dish.


This restaurant is located inside of a small grocery store selling lots of Halal options. I didn't know this before then, but just on the other side of the Chiang Mai Night Bazaar is Halal Street, comprised of a few shops and restaurants catering to the city's Islamic community.

To be fair, the Khao Soi from this place was delicious and had the same components as the other restaurant. It was spicy, creamy, the beef was tender, and there were the soft egg noodles contrasted with crispy noodles.


But those of you who cook know that just using the same components of a dish doesn't necessarily recreate the same dish; there's also technique. Again, this place was delicious and the people were super friendly, so I feel bad kind of comparing this to the other, but it wouldn't be an honest review without saying where it felt short.

A bowl of Kao Soi in Chiang Mai's Kao Soi Fueng Fah, which prepares a Halal option of the famous Northern Thai dish
A bowl of Kao Soi in Chiang Mai's Kao Soi Fueng Fah, which prepares a Halal option of the famous Northern Thai dish

A pleasant addition to this version was the inclusion of steamed wontons in the soup. I had a couple of other items during this visit so I left super full!


This place was wonderful and I recommend it for all of their food. However, if you are in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and want to have THE BEST Khao Soi, you have to go to Khao Soi Khun Yai!

 

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