Where to sample Chiang Mai's best kôw soy (famous noodle soup)

Aug 06, 22
Where to sample Chiang Mai's best kôw soy (famous noodle soup)

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Take squiggly wheat-and-egg noodles, a rich, fragrant curry-based broth, sides of crunchy pickled greens, sliced shallots and lime, and you have kôw soy (also known as khao soi), a dish that has become virtually synonymous with the northern Thai city of Chiang Mai.

Despite the dish's close links with Chiang Mai, it’s most likely a spin on a Burmese dish, one probably introduced by Muslim-Chinese traders. But while its history may be murky, its appeal is obvious, and eating a couple bowls of kôw soy (one is never enough) is part of the Chiang Mai experience. Hungry? Read on for eight great kôw soy restaurants in Chiang Mai to try it for yourself.

A bowl of chicken kow soy, Khao Soi Prince, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao Soi Prince

Combining the smooth noodles and coconut milk-richness of Muslim-style kôw soy with the full-flavoured curry paste of the Buddhist school, Khao Soi Princeserves Chiang Mai’s most balanced bowl. A variety of tasty Muslim-Thai dishes, from meaty curries to biryani, is also available.

Khao-Soi Islam, a kow soy restaurant in Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao-Soi Islam

Located in Chiang Mai's Ban Haw ‘hood, the predominately Muslim area that is allegedly the birthplace of  kôw soy, is this longstanding restaurant. The bowls here are satisfyingly mild, with smooth pale noodles and slightly sweet pickled greens – the dictionary definition of Muslim-style  kôw soy. In addition to the noodles, it’d be a pity to miss the outstanding mutton biryani.

Pork kow soy, Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham

One of Chiang Mai’s most legendary locales for  kôw soy, Khao Soi Lam Duanserves what are probably the city’s most full-flavoured bowls. Because the restaurant is Buddhist-run, you’ll find a somewhat unusual pork version of the dish, in addition to a short menu of northern Thai specialties.

Khao Soy Fueng Fah, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao Soi Fueng Fah

Also located in the Ban Haw neighbourhood, this Muslim-run place does mild, almost milky bowls of kow soy, which come accompanied by house-made, crunchy/sweet pickled greens and an optional smokey, spicy chili condiment.

Beef kow soy at Khao Soi Samoe Jai, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao Soi Samoe Jai

The largest and possibly most famous  kôw soy joint in Chiang Mai, Thai-Buddhist-run Kaho Soi Samoe Jai does big, fragrant, flavourful bowls that feature house-made noodles, in addition to a large repertoire of northern Thai staples.

The smooth chicken kow soy at Khao Ngiaw Ta Bun, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Khao Ngiaw Ta Bun

You won’t find many foreign diners at this open-air restaurant just outside of central Chiang Mai, but you will find a satisfying take on  kôw soy, with a fragrant, almost creamy broth.

Pah pah saa, noodles made from pressed brown rice, an item common at Muslim-run kow soy restaurants in Chiang Mai; Rot Dee. Image by Austin Bush

Rot Dee

Yet another Muslim-Chinese vendor, this time in a humble open-air shophouse not far from Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar. Rot Dee does a mild but tasty bowl of  kôw soy, as well as more obscure variations on the dish such as pah pah saa, which uses hearty noodles made from brown rice.

Beef kow soy at Suthatsinee Kitchen, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Suthatsinee Kitchen

Allegedly one of the oldest vendors of kow soy in Chiang Mai is Suthatsinee. Here, hot coconut milk and curry (beef or chicken) are combined to order, resulting in a meaty yet mild bowl that benefits from a bit of additional seasoning.

hicken kow soy at Kow Soy Siri Soy, Chiang Mai. Image by Austin Bush

Kow Soy Siri Soy

Conveniently located in the centre of Chiang Mai’s walled city, this vendor does a slightly sweet  kôw soy that’s also heavy on the curry powder.

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