I love eating food served in a bowl. There is something particular wholesome and complete about the concept. Asian food – especially street food – is often presented in a bowl. All of my favourites such as the Malaysian laksa, Vietnamese pho, Japanese ramen and Taiwanese 牛肉麵 (beef noodle soup) all call the humble bowl their home.
I can now add northern Thailand’s khao soi to the list. Originating from Laos and Burma, khao soi has become a popular street food in northern Thailand. The picture above is from a particular stall I visited numerous times during my visit to Chiang Rai.
The soup is not unlike a thick red curry. Usually the northern Thai version contains chicken with egg noodles, chillies and shallots. The bowl is drizzled with coconut milk and topped with fried egg noodles. Usually khao soi is accompanied by onion and pickled cabbage, with the amount up to the gobbler.
It is remarkably addictive. The chicken has been slow-cooked to high heaven and the curry-like soup is comforting and warming, which is exactly what we need in 35 degree heat. Plenty of people don’t like the taste of raw onion but I found it a perfect accompaniment. The addition of fried egg noodles to dance with the its fresh egg noodle brother is the best of both worlds. If you had set the stopwatch on me, I probably wolfed down the bowl within two minutes.
I also tried a beef version of khao soi at the same stall, which is arguably better than the chicken. The beef was as tender as you would find in a French casserole.
Watch Farang featuring American chef Andy Ricker (of Pok Pok fame) where he talks about his love affair with khao soi and his version of the dish too.
Where can you find khao soi in Sydney?