Almost one year ago, we reviewed the Just Khao Soy
Restaurant. The dish khao soy is well known in the North, and many diners from
the rest of Thailand (and overseas), who have previously experienced this unique
curry dish go looking for it. Shane and Sriphan Beary had looked at this and
elevated the humble roadside dish into something that could stand up in the
international culinary marketplace. At the time, I wrote that this restaurant
was a concept that was truly marketable. In fact, I even suggested that
franchising was the way forward, an idea, as it turned out, that Shane and
Sriphan were already working on.
then, they have refined and added to the concept, so it was with much interest
that the Dining Out team accepted the invitation for a return visit to Just Khao
The restaurant itself has even changed in the ten months. It
is still all bamboo, terracotta tiles and wood, but an air-conditioned
‘gallery’ section has been added. Well lit, it is a showcase for Northern
Thai arts and handicrafts, and is part of the Beary’s ‘value-added’
concept for their restaurant. The items on display are constantly changing, and
are for sale, just as in any art gallery. But this is an art gallery where you
can also sit down and eat!
In the gallery section, they are in addition going to be
displaying exclusively selected OTOP items from the North. And as another
add-on, it will be possible to make bookings for tours, sightseeing and/or
educational, making the restaurant a Northern promotional center. This has been
recognized by the authorities and Shane informed me that the Department of
Export Promotion is excited by the possibilities that Just Khao Soy presents.
However, as Shane says, “Food is still the core
business,” but they have not sat still there either. Noting the universal
acceptance of the artist’s palette presentation of the khao soy ingredients,
they have used a similar concept to present the appetizers and starters. Each
has individual items, contained in their own unique bowls, and presented on
tried several of the new dishes, happily allowing ourselves to be dressed in the
aprons that are now almost a trade mark for Just Khao Soy diners. Fun and
practical, if you are as messy an eater as Miss Terry Diner!
One dish that really took my fancy was the one with Chaploo
leaves. In this Northern delicacy, you take the leaf and fold it into a cone,
and then add small amounts of roasted coconut, peanut, shrimp, ginger, shallot
chili and lemon, with a spoonful of the sweet sauce on top and pop the lot into
the mouth. A flavor sensation as each ingredient assails the palate.
Another platter we tried was one that came with its own small
woven basket of sticky rice and had the Northern Sai Oua sausage, complete with
the Nam Prik Num and Nam Prik Ong sauces, some pork crackling and even a finger
A brilliantly presented starter with Sai Oua, spring rolls,
crispy fried fish and sun-dried beef completed the additions for the Dining Out
team, and around B. 100 is a bargain.
In my last review I said that food has to be more than just
nourishment, it has also to be fun. Just Khao Soy took that concept, making the
simple khao soy dish into an ‘art form’. This was an excellent notion from
the outset, and the new additions have shown that Shane and Sriphan could make a
good idea even better.
The first franchises are already being explored by interested
restaurateurs from overseas, and now is probably the time for some forward
thinking entrepreneurs in other parts of Thailand to look at what I personally
consider to be the best ‘new’ idea in food for quite some time. In Bangkok,
Brazilian and Argentinean restaurants are springing up. What about someone
getting behind a ‘Lanna’ restaurant, called Just Khao Soy? Shane and Sriphan
would love to hear from you!
Just Khao Soy, 108 Charoenphratet Road, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai, telephone 053
818 641. Street parking. Open mornings until late evening.