Three noodles worth eating in Lampang

DSC_4586-Edit Lampang, in northern Thailand, is home to chaam traa kai (ชามตราไก่), Thailand's emblematic 'chicken bowls':


so perhaps it's not surprising that I encountered some good noodle dishes there. Actually, exceptional is more accurate; I'd say that each of the below is among the best version of the dish I've encountered just about anywhere in the country.

The noodle I keep on my radar when up north is khao soi, the dish of wheat-and-egg noodles in a curry broth.


and with the help of food-based pamphlet printed by Lampang's tourism board (ของกินถูกใจ: Food You'll Like), I was pointed in the direction of Omar.

At a glance, the bowls here -- served with smooth, pale noodles and a garnish of coconut cream -- call to mind the Muslim version of the dish. Indeed, Omar is located in a neighbourhood with a mosque and several Muslim restaurants. But there's pork on the menu, and a taste reveals that the khao soi here is much meatier than your typically mild Muslim version. I ordered the beef, which is easily among the richest and meatiest bowls of khao soi I've ever eaten. There's very little dried spice flavour, but a teaspoon of phrik phao, the condiment of chili flakes fried in oil, made up for this.

Also noteworthy was the way the dish was made. Rather than combine the curry paste, meat and coconut milk in a single broth as many shops do, the cook here started out with a thick, almost stew-like broth of beef and curry paste. To order, scoops of the beefy/spicy stew liquid and a much lighter chicken broth were combined in a bowl, and the lot was garnished with a ladleful of coconut cream. Despite the potential for things to go wrong, the elements blended perfectly, making what must be one of the tastiest bowls of khao soi in the north.

Khao Soi Omar/ข้าวซอยโอมา Th Suksawat, Lampang 8am-3pm

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One doesn't have to look particularly hard to find khanom jeen nam ngiaw, fresh rice noodles topped with a pork and tomato mixture, as the dish is available just about everywhere in northern Thailand. But it's rare to find a version that's this exceptional.


I think it's fair to say that the nam ngiaw served at Paa Bun Sri is so smokey they should consider calling it a grilled dish. This is a relic of the days when chilies -- in this case those employed in the dish's curry paste -- were dried via the smoke from a hearth. This assertive smokiness was just barely countered by the tartness of tomatoes, and smoothed out by a couple chunks of rib and several cubes of blood. An intriguing bowl of noodles with a lot of delicious, disparate things going on.

Paa Bun Sri/ป้าบุญศรี Th Talad Gao, Lampang 8.30am-4pm

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Phat Thai is a dish that I rarely, if ever, seek out. In general, I tend to find it a bit gloopy and heavy, and up north, as mentioned previously, they do a few things -- namely adding pork -- that would arguably make the dish even heavier. But somehow, it works.

A standard order of phat Thai at Yay Fong, a street stall near Wat Suan Dok, arrives wrapped in a thin omelet. Inside, you'll find a tangle of rice noodles that, in addition to the usual phat Thai ingredients -- tofu, salted radish, dried shrimp, garlic chives -- includes minced pork and pork rinds.  To counter this, the seasoning was just slightly sweet with a bit of tamarind sourness. The dish had a slightly smoky flavour (it was fried in a small wok rather than on the flat round surface that many vendors use) and came served with garlic chives and sprouts and, unusually, a couple leaves of lettuce.


It's a meaty, moreish (I ate two dishes) phat Thai that's definitely worth seeking out.

Phat Thai Yay Fong/ผัดไทยยายฟอง Th Boonyawat, Lampang 5-10pm

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