Mention the name Chiang Mai and the immediate culinary
association is kao soi (or khao soi), a curry, reputedly of Burmese origin,
but now steeped in the history of current day Chiang Mai.
One restaurant that has become synonymous with kao soi in
Chiang Mai is a small roadside eatery simply called Lamduon Faharn Kao Soi,
which gets its name from the original owner, Mrs. Lamduon, and its location
on Faharn Road (opposite “The Resort”). This is a family business, with
Lamduon, having started to work there 70 years ago, at 14 years of age, and
being the grandmother-in-law of the present cook, Mrs. Thamonwal “Tim”
The restaurant cooking station is at the front of the
restaurant as you walk in, but sheltered from the road traffic and dust. On
the right are large containers of the kao soi soup stock, plus others of the
noodles and the crispy noodles for the top of the dish. One young girl is
fully occupied making small plates of the accompanying chopped onion,
pickled cabbage and a slice of lime, which go with each plate of kao soi. On
the left is another cooking station making waffles and another cooking
hundreds of pork satays. In the middle is “Tim”, dispensing food with
her attractive beaming smile.
Past the cooking stations the restaurant is in two
halves. One side is an “eat and go” with metal tables and plastic
stools, while the other has Chinese style large heavy wooden tables with
padded wooden chairs, a place to eat and linger. The d้cor? Well,
let’s say that this is a local eatery and d้cor does not really
matter, though there is a framed page from the New York Times of January
2001, in which Lamduon Faharn Kap Soi has an honourable mention.
We chose the wooden table section and this really is a
“no waiting” restaurant. Within one minute we had steaming bowls of kao
soi at the table and some spring rolls and plum sauce. For those who wish to
add condiments, there is a plastic container with various Thai sauces and
The spring rolls were the first surprise. Not the
overcooked, over fried tough variety, but softly cooked and gently
flavoured. Some of the best spring rolls that Miss Terry has had for a long
time. The price? 3 large spring rolls for 20 baht.
But it was the kao soi we had come for. This was quite
simply, sensational! The curry soup stock was creamy, the chicken soft and
fell off the bone with just a little pressure from the spoon, and the
noodles fresh and tasty. And it was a large bowl of curry too. The cost of a
bowl with the accompanying cabbage and onion? 20 baht again!
We decided we would share a plate of satays as well.
These were again freshly cooked and moist and succulent and the peanut sauce
perfectly prepared and not fiery. These cost 20 baht for 8 sticks.
All of us were unanimous in that this was superb value,
and superb food. It would be impossible for one person to spend more than
100 baht! We spent 140 baht and easily fed three people! I enjoyed myself so
much I was covered in food at the end of lunch, but I always was a messy
Lamduon Faharn Kao Soi has, in our opinion, the best kao
soi we have tasted, and whilst we have not tried every kao soi restaurant,
we have tried many, both in Chiang Mai, Bangkok, Pattaya and even overseas.
With the other excellent items on offer, such as the satays and spring
rolls, and the very inexpensive prices, we give this restaurant a very
highly recommended rating. This is real Chiang Mai food, made by a real
Chiang Mai family. The recipe used today is still Lamduon’s - having
passed the test of time, as well as the taste of time. You will not be
disappointed. Forget the d้cor, just savour the food.
Lamduon Faharn Kao Soi, 352/22 Faharn Road (opp The
Resort), Chiang Mai, tel. 053 243 519. Note, it opens at 8 a.m. and closes
at 4 p.m.