Lamduon Faharn Kao Soi

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” Mahadilok.

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 spices too.

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 eater!

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.