Yeah, that’s right: khao soi. Those of you not prepared to go one-on-one with the deliciousliest Thai dish of all should probably leave. OK. Now we’re alone, and I can let you in on a secret: khao soi is not even Thai. This famous northern speciality is probably an amalgam of Burmese/Shan and Chinese-Muslim cooking styles. The word khao soi, which doesn’t really mean anything in Thai, probably comes from the Burmese khauk-hswe, which means simply “noodles”. Unlike most Thai noodle dishes, the broth is made with coconut milk, very similar to a dish still eaten today in Shan State Burma called ohn no khauk-hswe. It seems likely that Chinese-Muslim traders brought ohn no khauk-hswe to Thailand, and added the spices they were so fond of.
OK, enough freaking history. Now it’s time to face the khao soi:
Don’t try to deny its power, look at it, stare at it, let it take you in:
Khao soi uses flat egg noodles, some of which are deep-fried and used as a topping. To cut through the general oiliness of the dish, khao soi is accompanied by a dish of acidic condiments such as sliced shallots, slices of lime, and pickled cabbage, as seen below:
This is Noel in a bout of khao soi-induced madness trying to intimidate the noodles:
Unfortunately this photo doesn’t show the fear in his eyes.
The bowl above was consumed at Khao Soi Lam Duan in Chiang Mai, probably the best and most famous khao soi place in Thailand. The owner claims that her mother actually invented the dish, but this seems very unlikely. Unlike most Thai dishes, khao soi is usually only served with chicken or beef, which also seems to verify its Muslim origins.