Khao Soi, Chiang Rai's favourite dish

Khao Soi Gai in Chiang Rai

There’s probably no dish quite so closely associated with Chiang Rai as khao soi gai, a creamy fragrant curried chicken soup dish blended with fresh noodles topped with crispy fried noodles and garnished with charlottes and pickled mustard vegetables and then spiced to taste with chilli paste.

Sure enough khao soi, in it’s various guises, can be found throughout the northern reaches of Southeast Asia, with the Chiang Rai version being very closely linked to the Shan Burmese dish, only with more a massaman and yellow curry like coconut milk based soup.

The llitterldirect translation from Thai is “cut rice”, which is assumed to derive from the once steamed and hand cut rice noodles used in the dish, although yellow egg noodles are mostly used in the Chiang Rai variety. Gai is of course chicken, which is usually a stewed drumstick, which is added to the mix.

Several other variations of khao soi are found throughout the region, with ground pork and curdled blood with white noodles also being popular in the Chiang Rai region, and beef also featuring in some places.

Although you can find the dish throughout Thailand, and well beyond, the quality and authenticity can vary dramatically, and any local will happily point you in the direction of one particular Chiang Rai khao soi restaurant – Phor Jai (signed` in Thai only, but the menu is also in English).

Situated along Chetoyd Road (about 100-meters east from the clock tower (open daytime only) this restaurant offers various Lanna Thai based dishes, but it is their khao soi that locals and visitors from all over Thailand come to eat. 

The owners of the restaurant are sisters of the famous local artist Chalermchai Kositpipat (creator of the white temple), and the walls are adorned with many of his original artworks, all adding to this regional treat.