The word Khao Soi is derived from the Burmese language which means “noodles”. Unlike other Thai noodle dishes, the broth for these egg noodles is made from coconut milk. The Burmese preparation of this dish is called Ohn No Khauk-hswe. Khao Soi comes in a variety of beef, pork and chicken. Eaten with the traditional condiments of sour and salty pickled mustard, roasted chili sauce, a squeeze of lime, and sliced raw shallots, this substantial dish satisfies but doesn’t overwhelm.
One of the most enticing and delicious Khao Soi destinations in Chiang Mai is Khao Soi Lam Duan. The cooking styles incorporated by this particular restaurant are Burmese along with a mixture of the Chinese-Muslim cooking style. It is believed that Khao Soi Lam Duan was the first restaurant to came up with this style due to the influence of the Muslim Chin Haw – Muslim Chinese traders from the province of Yunnan – in Chiang Mai.
Descendants of Uzbek warriors brought by the Mongols to China to help with the conquest of Yunnan province, Cin Haw became the consumate traders of the Golden Triangle, pushing, with their heavily armed mule caravans, as far south as Chiang Mai, Luang Prabang (Lao), and Moulmein (Burma). Those that remained in a subdued Yunnan assimilated over time, dropping their Turkic language in favor of the Yunnanese dialect. Han Chinese called them ‘Hui’ to distinguish them from non-Muslim Chinese (‘Cin Haw’ are the Thai words for ‘Chinese Hui’).
In the mid-19th century, in response to Chinese Qing government’s systematic oppression of Muslims, a large part of Yunnan province broke away to form the independent kingdom of Ping Nan Guo (‘Kingdom of Southern Peace’). When the rebellion was put down by the Qing, and followed by government supported massacres of Hui, many Cin Haw fled to Burma, Lao and Thailand. Some of the latter settled in Chiang Mai, in Cin Haw Village, now the site of the city’s night bazaar. (Source: Eating Asia)
For dessert, try the kanom rang pueng (literally means “beehive pastry” – a coconut-flavoured waffle).
Khao Soi Lam Duan has two branches: the original one is still in Faharm, across the Nakorn Ping Bridge. The other is on the Super Highway going towards Lampang passed the Grand View Hotel. For more information about other delicious northern Thailand dishes to taste and a review of this restaurant, click on this link.
The Quest for Khao Soi lists many more places to find Khao Soi.
Khao Soi Nimman on Soi 7, Nimmanhamen Road is the latest place to eat Khao Soi. Ajarn Vithi and I went there recently and sampled a variety of dishes including the Khao Soi Gai (with chicken). I enjoyed the outdoor atmosphere and rustic decor. The Khao Soi was lovely and the prices were reasonable for the fashionable Nimmanhamen Road area.
If you’re not in Thailand or Burma and would like to try Khao Soi, try making it yourself!
The Home District gives a Khao Soi recipe.
Another Khao Soi recipe with delicious photos can be found on Parich’s Kitchen blog.