Khao Soi Chiang Mai: Discovering the Authentic Northern Thai Dish

Khao Soi, a delicious dish originating from Burma, has become a must-try culinary experience for those visiting Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand. This unique and flavorful noodle dish is known for its rich broth, tender pieces of meat, and distinctive taste that sets it apart from other Thai cuisine.

The beauty of Khao Soi lies in its complexity, combining flavors from various spices and herbs with the creaminess of coconut milk. In Chiang Mai, many restaurants specialize in this dish, offering an authentic taste of Northern Thailand’s gastronomy. As a visitor, experiencing the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is essential for truly immersing oneself in the local culture and cuisine.

History of Khao Soi

Khao Soi, a popular noodle dish in Chiang Mai, has a rich history that can be traced back to Chinese Muslim traders from Yunnan, China. In the 19th and 20th centuries, these traders traveled to Southeast Asia, passing through Burma (now Myanmar) and Laos before arriving in northern Thailand, where the three countries connect along the Golden Triangle trading route. The journey of these traders brought their noodle culture to the region, leading to the development of Khao Soi as we know it today in Chiang Mai (Foodicles).

This flavorful dish is a unique blend of Yunnanese-Muslim (Hui or in Thai, Cin Haw) and Shan cuisines, and it stands as a testament to the blending of different culinary cultures throughout history (The Last Appetite). Khao Soi’s distinct taste comes from its combination of soft and crispy noodles bathed in a rich, curry-based broth, often accompanied by a variety of condiments and fresh herbs.

Over time, the dish has become a staple in the culinary landscape of northern Thailand, particularly in Chiang Mai, where it can be found in numerous local restaurants and food stalls. This unique fusion of flavors, spices, and textures not only shows the historical and cultural connections between the different regions in Southeast Asia but also brings a distinct identity to Chiang Mai, making Khao Soi an alluring taste of the city’s culinary heritage.

Ingredients and Preparation

Khao Soi Chiang Mai is a flavorful and hearty noodle dish originating from Northern Thailand. It consists of a rich, spicy coconut curry broth, tender chicken, and egg noodles, topped with crunchy fried noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and chili oil.

To prepare this dish, gather the following ingredients:

  • Chicken (preferably drumsticks or thighs)
  • Egg noodles
  • Coconut milk
  • Curry paste (red or yellow)
  • Fish sauce
  • Palm sugar or brown sugar
  • Vegetable oil
  • Shallots
  • Garlic
  • Ginger
  • Turmeric
  • Coriander seeds
  • Chili flakes or chili oil
  • Fried noodles (optional, for garnish)
  • Pickled mustard greens, sliced
  • Lime wedges

Begin by creating the curry paste, either by using a store-bought option or preparing it from scratch. If making it from scratch, blend together shallots, garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander seeds, and chili flakes in a food processor.

Heat vegetable oil in a large pot or deep skillet over medium heat. Add the curry paste and cook, stirring constantly, until fragrant. Stir in the coconut milk, followed by the chicken pieces, ensuring they are submerged in the liquid. Simmer for 30-40 minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

While the curry is simmering, cook the egg noodles according to the package directions. Drain and set them aside. If using fried noodles as a garnish, fry a small portion of cooked egg noodles in hot oil until crispy, then drain on paper towels.

Before serving, season the curry broth with fish sauce and sugar, adjusting to taste. Divide the cooked egg noodles among serving bowls and ladle the curry chicken over them. Garnish the dish with fried noodles, pickled mustard greens, sliced shallots, lime wedges, and chili oil. Serve immediately and enjoy this popular Northern Thai specialty.

Variations of Khao Soi

Khao Soi is a versatile and delicious dish that can be found in many variations, depending on the region and local ingredients. The most common versions of Khao Soi in Chiang Mai include those made with beef, chicken, or pork, each providing a slightly different flavor profile (Cookly Magazine).

When it comes to the noodles, there are different types used in Khao Soi as well. Chinese-style egg noodles are often used, but some recipes might call for wonton wrappers or even rice noodles (The Woks of Life). The choice of noodle style can impact the overall texture of the dish.

Some variations of Khao Soi may also include additional ingredients not commonly found in the classic Chiang Mai version. A key example would be the use of lemongrass, galangal, shallots, and makrut lime leaves in the dish’s curry paste (Marion’s Kitchen), making it reminiscent of the Thai laksa. This can enrich the dish with a broader array of flavors and aromas.

For toppings, the essentials are usually pickled mustard greens, sliced shallots, cilantro, lime wedges, fish sauce, and sugar (Inquiring Chef). However, individual preferences and creativity allow for different toppings and garnishes, such as crispy fried noodles, bean sprouts, or even boiled egg.

In summary, Khao Soi’s distinguished flavors and textures can vary based on regional interpretations or personal preferences, making it a truly versatile dish. Despite its many variations, its core characteristics remain consistent, resulting in a delightful culinary experience for those who embark on a journey to Chiang Mai to taste this authentic Thai dish.

Where to Try Khao Soi in Chiang Mai

Chiang Mai is a paradise for food lovers and offers a variety of Khao Soi restaurants to satisfy your craving. Let’s explore some of the best places to try this delicious dish.

Khao Soi Islam is a popular option known for its rich and flavorful version of the dish. It has a distinct, aromatic flavor sets it apart from other Khao Soi varieties. You can find this restaurant near Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar. Give it a try by visiting Eating Thai Food.

Khao Soi Khun Yai is another great choice for experiencing this Northern Thai delicacy. Located near the North Gate of Chiang Mai’s old city, this small street food stall has been praised for its home-cooked taste and generous portions.

For those who like to explore different food scenes, Khao Soi Wulai serves the dish with a local twist. Situated in the Wualai district, this restaurant creates an unforgettable Khao Soi experience. To Learn more, check out A Chef’s Tour.

If you happen to be strolling around the markets, don’t miss Khao Soi at the Saturday Night Market. This spot offers a taste of authentic Khao Soi while you enjoy the bustling atmosphere of the famous Chiang Mai walking street. Read more about their offering on Authentic Food Quest.

Lastly, Khao Soi Lam Duan Faham is a well-regarded establishment with a long history of serving Chiang Mai’s favorite dish. With a spacious outdoor dining area and an inviting atmosphere, it’s the perfect location to try this traditional Thai delight. You can find more information from The Wandering Hedonist.

These are just a few of the fantastic Khao Soi restaurants to try in Chiang Mai. Remember, there’s no better way to truly experience a destination than through its local flavors. Enjoy your Khao Soi journey!


Chiang Mai is a remarkable destination for those seeking a true taste of Khao Soi, a beloved Northern Thai dish. Throughout the city, you can find an array of restaurants and street vendors offering their unique take on this classic noodle soup.

One standout option is Khao Soi Islam, known for its authentic and original version of the dish. For those who want to explore a variety of options, consider following the comprehensive Khao Soi food guide provided by Authentic Food Quest.

Don’t forget to visit the Netflix-famous Khao Soi Lung Prakit Kaat Gorm, where you can savor their beef Khao Soi topped with fried egg noodles. And for a local favorite, check out Khao Soi Khun Yai nestled within the walls of Chiang Mai’s old city.

Sampling Khao Soi in Chiang Mai is a must-do for any culinary traveler. Enjoy the unique flavors, textures, and ingredients that create this classic dish, as you immerse yourself in the vibrant local food culture that Chiang Mai has to offer.