A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Northern Exposure

Posted date:  April 11, 2006

Found myself in the right part of town at the right time and got my mits on some nice northern-style Thai food today. The right part of town is Viphavadee, the right time lunch, and the right restaurant, Khao Soi Faa Haam. This is actually the name of the most famous khao soi–a northern-style curry noodle dish–restaurant up in Chiang Mai. I was up there about a year ago interviewing the owner for an article on khao soi, when I learned that they also have a branch here in Bangkok, and have been enjoying it on a regular basis. Khao soi is getting a lot of attention recently, with a fun thread at eGullet, and Chubby Hubby also featuring some pics in a recent post.

I went to the restaurant with the obvious desire to have a bowl (or two) of khao soi, but in the time-honored tradition of Thai ill-preparedness, they were temporarily out (it was, after all, 12:30!), and would I mind waiting? This was actually a blessing in disguise, as it allowed me to stray from the well-eaten path and order something different for once. This Something Different was khanom jeen naam ngiaow:

The dish is of Shan/Thai Yai origin, and is actually quite similar to a spicy, sour spaghetti. It is made by frying ground pork in curry paste with small, sour tomotoes. Water and pork spareribs are added, and topped with everybody’s favorite, cubes of coagulated chicken blood. This is then served over fermented rice noodles. Possibly the best part of the dish is the deep-fried crispy garlic.I’ve eaten this dish heaps of times–and even make a mean version myself–but this was the first time I’d eaten it here, and I’ll certainly have it again.

By the time I finished my nam ngiaow they were finally done making the khao soi:

I usually order beef khao soi, but they were out (!) today, so I had to settle for the chicken. Still very good, but this was probably the richest bowl I’ve ever consumed–I couldn’t even finish all of it!

3 Comments for Northern Exposure

Hey Austin r u aware Khao Soi is actually Burmese !!!! My gfriend whose Shan/Myanmarese says its from the Myanmarese word khaok swer which just means noodles Its found all over Mynamar apparently – tho i’ve not been there ( yet )

[…] Other than the excellent khao soi at the Bangkok branch of the famous Chiang Mai institution Lam Duan, which unfortunately is located way outside of town, most khao soi in Bangkok is mediocre, or […]


The gentleman above is correct. Indians settled in Burma [my family was one] brought back a fondness for Panthe Khao Swey, Panthe denoting the Muslim variant. This was also very very popular amongst the Anglo-Indian community in India who were employed on the railways & shipping lines in Burma.

No pickled mustard greens, but fried garlic, shallots, ngapi, and many other toppings. Prawn balichow became a piquant, oily sour “pickle” [in the Indian sense] with dried shrimp, red pepper etc. — a modified nam prik pao. Great improvement over the searing heat of the latter.

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