A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Khao sen and…

Posted date:  February 2, 2011


The quintessential Mae Hong Son dish – or perhaps simply the most popular dish in Mae Hong Son – is a bowl of khao sen. Literally ‘rice threads,’ it’s the local name for a dish combining the thin rice noodles known elsewhere in Thailand as khanom jeen and a thin, pork- and tomato-based broth — a dish known in northern Thailand as khanom jeen nam ngiaw.

Sold alternatively early in the morning and late in the afternoon, khao sen is regarded as more of a snack than a meal. Vendors who sell the dish always tend to sell it with one other snack-like item such as khang pong, a type of local deep-fried vegetable fritter; deep-fried pork rinds or buffalo skin; or khao kan jin, rice and pork blood steamed in a banana leaf package.

I’ve touched on all of these dishes previously, but I suppose it wasn’t until this visit that I understood just how much the people in Mae Hong Son love them. Khao sen is pretty much the go-to snack here, and there are several places to get it in town, so I thought I’d try to corroborate the vendors I’m familiar with all in one post.

If you’re looking for a khao sen breakfast, you’ll have to go to Talaat Say Yut, Mae Hong Son’s morning market. There, three vendors sell the dish at the northern edge of the market:


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My personal favourite bowl, and my breakfast at least three or four days a week when I’m here, is served by the two ladies who also do a delicious shallot-based khang pong. In the Thai Yai style, the broth is thin, with only bits of meat, and the dish is topped with deep-fried crispy noodles, garlic oil and some coriander leaves. The vendor across from them, Yay Jang, sells a similar bowl plus a few banana leaf packages of khao kan jin.

During the day, the options are limited to one vendor at the Chao Pho Kho Mue Lek Shrine:

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The khao sen here includes chunks of blood (normal for the northern-style khanom jeen nam ngiaw, but unusual for the local style) and is served with a somewhat oily papaya-based khang pong (both pictured at the top of this post).

Mid-afternoon is, in my opinion, the best time for khao sen. A pair of friendly vendors operating from a rickety stall along Th Khunlumpraphas serve the dish with my favourite khao kan jin:


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The meaty rice is drizzled with garlic oil and served with sprigs of fresh coriander or, if they can get it, a type of aromatic root. The khao sen is also good, and is served with optional sides of deep-fried pork rind.

Around the corner, Yay Jang, the same vendor who serves the dish at the morning market, does the same two dishes, with a ‘raw’ version of khao kan jin, in which, I assume, raw blood is mixed with cooked rice:


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This one’s popular, and you can expect a line here.

6 Comments for Khao sen and…

[…] thin rice noodles served with a tomato and pork broth – also big in Mae Hong Son. […]

[…] of pork, tomatoes and curry paste, served over thin rice noodles. I’ve eaten this dish a lot, particularly up in Mae Hong Son, where it’s a staple, and where in the Shan/Thai Yai-style, it’s generally quite thin, […]

[…] while back, I blogged about the various places in Mae Hong Son city to get the local dishes of khao sen, thin rice noodles […]

When I was in Chiang Mai for four months… You could find a dish sold by some street vendors called Khao Nam Sen, which included the little chunks of coagulated blood…
It was cheap, and actually quite good. Perhaps it is the same as your Khao Sen mentioned above… sounds quite similar.
I practically lived on street Pad Thai, Som Tam and Khao Nam Sen, and also Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Noodles) … also a favorite..
I lost more than 22 pounds in that four months.. and never felt better at my age of 61 years..
I’ve got to get back there… but it may take me a year or two to save up for the retirement O-A visa.
How I miss it all..now that I’m back in Canada…

    Robert — yep, it’s the same dish. It’s often sold from the same places that do khao soi.

[…] mentioned previously, khao sen (ข้าวเส้น), a thin, pork- and tomato-based broth served over khanom jeen […]

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