My favorite curry noodles

Posted on March 31, 2006 by Aun


The Khao Soi Gai that I made at the Four Seasons Resort’s Cooking School

From my very first bite, I was hooked on Khao Soi. Usually served with chicken (“Gai”), this Northern Thai curry noodle dish, most famously served all over Chiang Mai, has become one of my all-time favorite foods. My wife S and I first tasted it a few years ago, while S was on an assignment in Chiang Mai. She was there to write a story for an American magazine on the best Northern Thai restaurants in the area; I was playing hopalong hubbie, tagging along and happily helping her consume the massive amounts of food she needed to try over a 4 day period. However, as soon as I tried my first Khao Soi Gai, my plans changed. I had a new agenda. I began, much to S’s chagrin, a mad quest to find the very best version in the city. Over those 4 days, I must have eaten at least a dozen versions, declaring–at the end of the trip–that the best Khao Soi Gai in Chiang Mai could be found at a quaint, modest, old and very famous restaurant called Huen Phen.


Khao Soi Gai from Samoe Jia

For the uninitiated, Khao Soi is a dish of egg noodles cooked in two different ways–deep fried and boiled–served with curry. The boiled noodles are placed in the bottom of a serving bowl and topped with some sawtooth coriander. Over this is ladled a coconut milk based, yellow curry with tender pieces of chicken. On top of this is placed the crispy, deep-fried noodles. This is then served with a variety of condiments, which you add to your own taste: fish sauce, sugar, chili oil, pickled mustard leaves, diced shallots, and some fresh lime wedges. It’s interesting to note that this is the only curry from the Chiang Mai region that uses coconut milk.

S and I are just back from another quick 4 day trip to Chiang Mai. This time, S was there to write a story, for the same magazine, on the coolest design and homeware shops in Chiang Mai. Once again, this chubby, hopalong hubby went with her and not only tasted several versions of Khao Soi, but also learnt how to make it at the stunning Four Seasons Resort’s Cooking School. The first one we tasted was at a streetside cafe called Samoe Jai Khao Sawy. Samoe Jia is very well-known for its Khao Soi. And while I have to agree that their Khao Soi is very good, it was a tad too spicy for my taste. I did like, though, that the dish was served with little winglets/drumsticks that were so tender I could literally suck the meat off the bones. Curiously, this version also had amost no coconut milk in it.


The Khao Soi Gai from Samoe Jia has almost no coconut milk

My second Khao Soi was at Modiva, a trendy restaurant off the equally trendy Nimanhaemin Road. The Khao Soi Gai here was good, but not outstanding. The curry was rich, with a good, healthy amount of coconut milk. This version was also served with little chicken drumsticks. My next Khao Soi was at the very new and very exciting D2 hotel. This hotel is the first in a hip new line extension of the Dusit group. The hotel itself was awesome, with modern and whimsical interiors and a very cute orange accent that ran across all of the hotel’s branding. Their restaurant, Moxie, had a nice menu of local and international dishes. I ordered a Khao Soi with pork meatballs. It was both excellent and beautifully presented. The curry was mild and flavorful. The pork meatballs made for a nice change from the usual chicken. I really enjoyed this one.


The Khao Soi with pork meatballs from D2 hotel

My last Khao Soi (not counting the one I cooked for myself in the cooking school) was the most unusual, a Khao Soi with Osso Buco. We had this at the gorgeous, classy and very romantic restaurant at the Rachamanka hotel. Of all the Khao Sois we ate, S liked this one the best, both because of the unusual meat choice but also because the noodles used with this version had soaked up the very mild and delicious curry. It was, because the curry was the lightest and most flavorful, and because of the surprising choice of meat, also my favorite.


S hard at work prepping condiments for her Khao Soi Gai

Another Khao Soi that I ate–as mentioned–was one that I learnt to prepare myself. S and I had enrolled in a half day “Best of Thai Curries” course at the Four Seasons Resort’s truly stunning cooking school. It was a fun course taught in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable. I’ve included below the recipe that the Four Seasons used to teach us how to make this delicious dish.

 

 


S presents her finished Khao Soi Gai

About Aun Koh

Aun has always loved food and travel, passions passed down to him from his parents. This foundation, plus a background in media, pushed him to start Chubby Hubby in 2005. He loves that this site allows him to write about the things he adores--food, style, travel, his wife and his bouncing baby boy!

What Others Are Saying

  1. linq1 April 2, 2006 at 6:22 pm

    am an avid reader of ur blog.ur photos look great.found this website about gourmet salt.I instantly knew you would love it.http://www.salttraders.com/StoreFront.bok

  2. Austin April 2, 2006 at 9:38 pm

    Chubby: Nice pics, and interesting recipe, although I’ve never seen sawtooth coriander (phak chii farang) eaten with khao soi in Thailand. What exactly is “yellow curry power”? Do you mean regular, yellow-colored curry powder?

    I’ve done a couple of entries on khao soi at my blog, and I’ve also written an article for a mag here in BKK on khao soi (available in pdf in the “My Published Work” section of my website http://www.austinbushphotography.com). Check it out if you’re interested in the fascinating origin of this dish.

    Cheers!

    Austin

  3. Pamela April 3, 2006 at 3:16 pm

    I adore noodles and those look amazing!
    Thanks for sharing your recipe!!

  4. Sham April 3, 2006 at 5:29 pm

    I loved it – love your blog!

  5. Kat in the Hat April 3, 2006 at 5:55 pm

    So happy to find this site and to find people as obsessed as I am with great food!

  6. Meeta April 3, 2006 at 7:40 pm

    Thanks for sharing your recipe. This looks great! I will definitely try this and get my jury to give it their verdict on my blog What’s For Lunch Honey?.

    By the way if you are mums and need ideas packing your kids snack boxes ….

    The Daily Tiffin

  7. Chubby Hubby April 4, 2006 at 4:13 am

    Astrid: Thanks so very much.

    Anonymous: I have yet to find one in Singapore that’s up to snuff.

    Samuel: Cheers!

    *Kel: I hope you do. They’re super yummy.

    Flambo: I agree. It’s amazing how many kinds of foods and riffs on the same dish that there are in our own back yards that we’re sometimes unaware of.

    Eggy: Not yet. Our course was 4 different curry dishes. Will you email me the Pad Thai recipe please?

    Anonymous: Hi, apologies. I will post the addresses but it will have to be after 12 April. I’m in Venice right now and will be flying to Vienna tomorrow. Back home in a week and a half.

    MM: You should definitely try this. Relatively easy to make once you gather the ingredients.

    Khaokhaprowmoo: Thanks.

    Anonymous: Thanks.

    Bea: Good luck. I hope it works for you.

    Rose: Apologies. I was rushing between trips (arrived back in Singapore from Chiang Mai at 3pm Friday, uploaded the post, repacked and flew off to Venice that evening) and did not have time to copy the addresses. Will do soon.

    Cin: Oh you poor dear. Look what you missed!

    Imedagoze: Hope it works well for you.

    Ling1: Thanks for the heads-up.

    Austin: Cheers mate. Yah, the “yellow curry powder” is essentially a typical, generic yellow-colored curry powder mix. The Four Seasons used one, ofall places, from the UK.

    Pamela: Thanks!

    Sham: Also, many thanks.

    Kat: Thanks. Check out all the amazing sites I’ve linked to. All of them are amazing, passionate foodies as well.

    Meeta: Cheers.

  8. J April 5, 2006 at 1:07 am

    hiya, i’m looking forward to hearing all about the sachertorte/sacher torte smackdown, aka sacher versus demel’s ;) have a good one!

  9. Kierra April 5, 2006 at 1:28 am

    I was just chatting with a colleague yesterday about trying the Curry Noodles at Marina Square. After going through your entry, I didn’t want to go Marina anymore. =P

  10. Gustad April 5, 2006 at 3:34 am

    very interesting. how does sawtooth coriander differ from the norm i find in my american stores?

  11. cath April 5, 2006 at 7:06 am

    Your pictures are amaaaaaaaaazing…I can almost smell how delicious the food must taste!

  12. mae April 5, 2006 at 8:27 am

    Oh, my! The noodles looks so delicious. Yum yum.

  13. S April 5, 2006 at 10:30 am

    Hi Gustad

    They look completely different (try googling sawtooth coriander or sawtooth herb). Sawtooth coriander has flat, broad leaves with serrated edges. It hurts when you run your fingers down the side of the leaf into the serrations (I accidentally did that while I was slicing one). You’ll sometimes find them in the platter of herbs that are served with some Vietnamese dishes. They have been described as tasting like a cross between coriander, mint and basil. Coriander leaves are the best substitute for them.

  14. rob April 6, 2006 at 5:02 am

    This looks like a wonderful noodle dish. I especially like the contrast in texture between the boiled and fried noodles.

    I notice the recipe includes red curry paste. Do you have a recipe for red curry paste on your blog?

    Great post.

  15. PC April 7, 2006 at 12:13 am

    good grief. read the first line of the recipe as “100 chicken pieces”

    eeks

    *rubs eyes*

    great stuff. must try recipe

  16. Anonymous April 7, 2006 at 10:54 pm

    Looks uber-yummy but TINY!! Everything tiny. Why so small? Gread food like this deserves giant man-portions, surely?

  17. akalgras April 8, 2006 at 1:55 pm

    Yum Yum Pig’s Bum! Definitely will be having this curry in a hurry!! Nice pics and write-up :)

  18. tejal April 9, 2006 at 5:30 am

    I love that round cutting board that your wife is working over–where is it from?

  19. meemalee April 9, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Hi… I love your blog – the pictures are so beautiful! Anyway, I’m just writing to reassert my national claim :-) because Khao soi is actually a Burmese invention and one of my absolute favourites!!! “Khao soi” is just the Burmese word for noodles…

    See here:

    http://eatingasia.typepad.com/eatingasia /2006/03/_homegrown_cuis.html for some background

    and Austin‘s article called “Dish in a Bowl” on http://austinbushphotography.com/ published01.htm is fab too!

  20. keiko April 10, 2006 at 11:36 pm

    Hi Aun & S – I don’t need the recipe, I just want to taste it as you cook for me :) Fantastic shots, I especially love the chopping board.

  21. Austin April 11, 2006 at 9:19 pm

    Was at the Bangkok branch of Faa Haam today, the Chiang Mai restaurant CH mentions in his post. The khao soi there is just like up in CM! Pics and description here: http://realthai.blogspot.com/2006/04/northern-exposure.html.

    Austin

  22. Polar April 18, 2006 at 2:41 pm

    Making your own red curry paste is probably more satisfying.. :p…

    Ingredients:
    ————

    12 Fresh red chillies
    3 cloves Garlic
    5 Shallots
    5 pieces Coriander roots
    1 tbsp Coriander seeds
    1 tsp fennel
    1 tsp cumin
    1 tsp chilli powder
    1 tsp turmeric
    3 Kaffir lime leaves
    Kaffir lime peel from 1 lime
    2″ Ginger
    1″ Galangal
    3 or 4 Candle nuts

    Just grind all together. Place some thick coconut milk in a pan, and fry till the oil separates. Then put paste and saute till oil seeps back out and the paste is fragrant.

  23. Austin April 29, 2006 at 8:05 pm

    Polar: have you actually tried making this curry paste recipe? Kaffir lime leaves are quite difficult to blend into a curry paste, and the skin of one kaffir lime is A LOT! Thai red curry paste usually uses dried chilies (not fresh as you suggest), and fennel and candlenuts are unknown in Thailand. This recipe from Lonely Planet’s World Food: Thailand is more authentically Thai:

    15 large dried chilies
    15 green peppercorns
    4 Tbsp chopped garlic
    3 Tbsp chopped shallots
    2 Tbsp chopped lemongrass
    2 tsp chopped cilantro root
    1 1/2 tsp chopped galangal
    1 1/2 tsp roasted coriander seed
    1/2 tsp roasted cumin seed
    1 tsp shrimp paste
    1 tsp salt

    Grind together using a stone mortar and pestle.

    For khao soi, add some plain old good-quality curry powder to this and you’re set.

  24. Anonymous June 25, 2006 at 12:47 pm

    Went to Huen Phen last night eager to try their Khao Soi and it wasn’t on the menu! I asked what the deal was and they pointed to another restauarant that practically occupies the same building. It was closed at the time, but open during lunch. Is it possible that the Khao Soi you had was not from Huen Phen but from its neighboring restaurant? Just looking for a good bowl!

  25. S January 15, 2007 at 4:40 pm

    Hi Anon

    We were told that both restaurants are called Huen Phen, but we could be wrong. Yes, we went to the less touristy looking place that’s only open in the day. Sorry for the confusion.

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