DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Just Khao Soy

Making a good idea even better

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.

Since 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 Soy.

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 wooden platters.

We 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 bowl!

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.