Khao Soi, Part 3
: By Neil Robinson
A new leader in the race for the best!
In parts 1 and 2, I mainly wrote about larger, better known
khao soi places. I wanted then to try some lesser known or
smaller neighbourhood shops. Unfortunately, the first couple
of neighbourhood places I tried turned out to be
disappointments, because of poor quality ingredients or
indifferent flavour. They did not seem worth writing about.
Then I heard of two recommended places, one from a friend
and one from a reader.
My friend suggested Khao Soi Mae Sai, which is off Huay Kaew
Rd, a short walk past Nakornping Condo, the 15 story condo
building almost opposite to Kad Suan Kaew shopping centre.
The address is 29/1 Ratchaphluek Rd. It is a real
neighbourhood place in a small shop house, but neat inside.
I went with a group, both Thai and farang, the others of
whom had eaten there previously. We tried different meats. I
had the beef. The khao soi was attractively presented, and
the flavour lived up to the looks, with a tasty
curry/coconut broth, plenty of tender beef, and some of the
best, really crispy, noodles on top. I rated it as equal to
my previous top pick for khao soi, Khao Soi Samoe Jai. The
Thais in the group rated it even better. Khao Soi Mae Sai is
clearly a real find, particularly if you are looking for
authentic, tasty, well presented khao soi in this popular
A reader, David, e-mailed me to say that he has lived here
for more than 20 years and recently tried khao soi at
Satesinlp, which he strongly recommended. I decided to try
it for myself. The first thing that impressed us was the
nice building, and the attractive landscaping around it. I
hope you can see what I mean from the photos. The building
is surrounded by ponds and plants, including quite a number
of orchids blooming in the trees. Inside, it is very neat
and appears spotlessly clean. This is a place you could
happily take your persnickety maiden aunt to try khao soi -
assuming you have such an aunt and unless she objects to
brightly painted plaster birds - there are quite a number
dotted throughout the garden!
Satesinlp serves not only khao soi, but is also a regular
restaurant with a wider menu. However, khao soi is a
particular speciality. Khun Sate, the owner, describes how
he got a special recipe and was taught how to make it by the
owner of a khao soi shop that had been open for almost 80
years. Most of the tables are on shady terraces, overlooking
the garden, but there is also an air conditioned room
upstairs. Air conditioning has to be a rarity for a khao soi
restaurant. Yet the price of khao soi is within the range of
“regular” places that I am including in this series of
reviews - at 35 Baht for a bowl of meat khao soi, it is not
very much more than you would pay at any roadside stall.
We started with satay, tasty and nicely presented, and then
tried both beef and chicken khao soi. I liked the tender,
flavourful chicken, but the beef, which was so tender it
almost melted in your mouth, was even better. The
flavourful, thin curry/coconut broth was spicy, but not too
hot. My northern Thai companion added chili to his taste,
but I was happy with just a squeeze of lime juice. The
pickles had an appetizing, slightly hot flavour, and the
whole was topped with very good crispy noodles. After we
ate, our waitress, who incidentally spoke good English,
brought us a cup of fruit tea - a delightful end to the
Overall, this was the best khao soi I have had so far in
Chiang Mai. The combination of this with the charm of the
restaurant and the reasonable prices easily makes Satesinlp
the leader in the race for best khao soi. Indeed, the place
has so many positives that I think it is going to be really
difficult to overtake! Thank you, David, for the suggestion.
The address is 15/1 Sankamphaeng Rd. (on the main road which
leads from the Thapae Gate out past the railway station,
towards Sankamphaeng). The restaurant is outside the
Superhighway and the inner ring road, but inside the outer
ring. It is on your left as you leave the city, almost
opposite a Caltex petrol station on your right, and just
past Chiang Mai Leather. There is ample parking. It is open
in the morning and afternoon only, closing at 4 pm.
If you have a favourite khao soi place, please let me know
at: [email protected] why you think it is one of the best - I
hope to include further readers’ recommendations in a future
Drunken Stir-fried Chicken (Pad Khee Mao Kai)
This week’s recipe is for those who really
enjoy the spicy side of Thai cooking. It calls for five hot chillis, but
remember you can downgrade the thermo-nuclear side by lesser quantities. If you
decide to do this, I would also recommend that you decrease the quantity of
garlic cloves as well. This is a strongly flavoured dish, but is very easy and
quick to cook. You can purchase the chicken from the supermarket already minced
if you do not have a mincer in the home kitchen.
In a mortar or food blender, mash the garlic and chillis. In
the wok, heat the oil and add the pounded garlic and chilli and stir fry. When
the garlic takes on a golden colour, add the chicken meat and continue stir
frying, turning rapidly. When the chicken is cooked, add the oyster sauce, fish
sauce, sugar, and chicken stock and stir again. Now add the basil leaves and
coriander and continue stirring for one minute.
Serve with steamed rice.
Chillis (small green)
Fish sauce (Tiparos)
Holy basil leaves (Kaprow) ½ cup