The world’s best street food: part three

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

Travel bible, Lonely Planet, shares the best street eats across the globe with CD-Traveller readers. Today: Khao Soi (Northern Thailand)


Chiang Mai’s signature dish is a creamy, spicy Thai comfort curry with noodles two ways

What is it?
A curry-based noodle dish with chicken, beef, or sometimes pork, khao soi is spicy, but not mind- blowingly so, with soft noodles below and deep-fried ones sprinkled on top. Pickled cabbage and lime help to cut through an excess of richness. The dish is mainly eaten in the afternoon and at night.

If you’re lucky the noodles might still be made manually, with the wheat ground, boiled, stretched and sliced by hand. What you want in the dish is balance: spice, but not so much it overpowers; coconut milk, added in just the right amount so it doesn’t overwhelm and make everything dull and overly sweet. The meat should be cooked in the broth, the noodles soft and chewy. The deep-fried noodles on top should shatter between the teeth. Oh, and that pickled cabbage is essential: it adds a welcome sour note, along with the lime. Sit down at the rickety table, and slurp and sip to your heart’s content. Khao soi satisfies every eating urge.

Khao soi is thought to have roots in Myanmar (Burma), where Chinese Muslims from Yunnan province brought an early version down to Thailand and Laos. Originally said to be halal (so, pork free), it now can contain pork, as well as the more usual beef and chicken. Curry paste was added later, along with coconut milk.

Finding it
Chiang Mai is the traditional home of khao soi. Try the pork version at the long-established and popu- lar Khao Soi Lamduan for 20 baht (US$0.70).

Not to be confused with
Same name, different dish. The khao soi found in Laos is a soup made with rice noodles, pork, chilli and tomatoes, and bears little resemblence to the Thai version.

This is an edited extract from The World’s Best Street Food © Lonely Planet 2012.





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