Khao Soi, Part 2: By Neil Robinson
Searching for the best - with your help
Last week, I wrote about what Khao Soi is, and reviewed Khao
Soi Samoe Jai. But where did Khao Soi come from? The answer
is that it turns out to be a fusion food. It probably
originated with Chinese Muslim Chin Haw peoples. This dish
was then influenced by both Shans from Burma, (Burma has a
related, but not identical, dish with a similar name), and
northern Thais, who spiced it up so it finally became
present day Khao Soi.
The area around the mosque on Charoen Prathet Soi 1, near
the night market, used to be known as Baan Haw, because so
many Chin Haw people settled there. This seemed like a good
place to see if I could get an earlier style of Khao Soi. I
tried two places on Charoen Prathet Soi 1, within a very
short distance of each other, Khao Soi Islam and Khao Soi
Feung Faa. And indeed, I found quite a different style of
Khao Soi there.
The appearance of Khao Soi Islam is typical of a Thai
restaurant in this price range, and a bit untidy. The
friendly manager speaks good English. I tried both
vegetarian and chicken. Both had a less spicy, flavourful
broth than I am used to in Khao Soi. Indeed, the chicken
Khao Soi broth tasted more of chicken soup than curry. Of
course, it can be spiced up some to taste by adding
condiments. I was surprised by the absence of crispy noodles
on top, which I certainly missed. However, there are
obviously many who prefer this style, since it is a well
known, popular restaurant with no shortage of customers.
Khao Soi Feung Faa also served a similar, mild, style of
Khao Soi. However, they did have crispy noodles on top,
which I welcomed, and the broth for the chicken was less
chicken flavoured and a little more curry flavoured, (and
thus more to my taste), than at Khao Soi Islam. I tried both
beef and chicken and the meat for both was noticeably
tender. This type of Khao Soi probably should be judged a
bit differently from the spicier northern Thai version. My
own feeling is that northern Thais improved the dish when
they added more curry flavour. However, if your preference
is for food which is not very spicy, then this style is
right for you.
Khao Soi Lamduan is another well known, popular restaurant.
I tried the branch on the Superhighway. It is on the
frontage road, just north of the Superhighway, immediately
before the junction with Chotana/Chang Phuak Rd., on your
left if you are coming from the direction of the Rincome.
The building is very recognisable. It is a pretty, three
story building in what I think of as Shan/Lanna style, (I’m
a restaurant reviewer, not an architect, so I may be wrong
about the best way to describe the style). I hope you can
see what I mean in the photograph. It is very nicely done,
both inside and out. In fact, it is such a nice building
that I found myself thinking what a pity it is that it is
not kept tidier. From where I sat I could see unsightly
clutter in the area leading to the kitchen - in a lesser
building this would stick out much less.
I tried the chicken Khao Soi. The broth was noticeably
thicker than in any of the other places I have reviewed so
far, in what I believe to be nearer to the Burmese style.
The curry flavour was there, but somewhat bland by
comparison with Khao Soi Samoe Jai, reviewed last week, and
the noodles topping it were not as crispy. So, Khao Soi
Lamduan would probably win hands down in any competition for
nicest building, (and it is worth visiting just for that),
but Samoe Jai is still my favourite so far for food, but
it’s early days yet, and, with your help, I’m looking for a
place to topple it from its perch!
Next week, I will take a break and go Chinese. However, Khao
Soi will be back the week after, with reviews of a couple of
small, neighbourhood places and, I hope, readers’ comments.
So, if you have not yet tried Khao Soi, rush out and do so
now! Then tell me about it at: [email protected] .com. If you
already have a favourite place, please let me know why you
think it is one of the best - I need all your input for Khao
Soi, Part 3, in a couple of weeks.
Khao Soi Feung Faa
Khao Soi Islam
The ‘Perfect’ Chip
Chips are a European staple, potatoes being a
most important food item in the cold countries. However, there are many
different styles of chip, ranging from the commercialized “French fries” to the
British chunky chip. Adding to the mystique is the fact that the Belgians have
laid claim to inventing the humble chip! Nationalities aside, here is how to
make the perfect chip.
Cut the potatoes into chips (your selection of thin or hefty)
and soak in cold water to remove excessive starch. Drain and pat completely dry
with a clean tea towel - essential for a crisp finish.
Blanche the chips frying at 170C for 4-6 minutes and lift out just as they start
Raise the heat to 190C and then plunge the chips back into the oil for a further
2-3 minutes until golden brown.
Drain the chips on absorbent paper and season lightly with salt.
Serves one to an army
Potatoes (many types including King Edward, Maris Piper,
Cara, Wilja, Saxon, Maris Peer, Desiree, Sante, Pentland Dell, and
Fianna, Idaho, but most potatoes will do). 1 kg will feed 4 people.
Polyunsaturated cooking oil to half fill your deep-fryer.
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