If like me, you developed a love for khao soi in Chiang Mai, you will know how frustrating it is not to be able to eat it whenever you feel like it in Bangkok. Unlike in Chiang Mai, where there are plenty of great khao soi joints to choose from wherever you are in the city, Bangkok’s good khao soi require a bit more digging!
As I’ve found out in the last week, a decent Khao soi is hard to come by in Bangkok. I very much wanted to do a ‘Top 5’ Khao soi in Bangkok, but I couldn’t find five worth going out of my way to eat. Believe me when I say I’ve eaten A LOT of khao soi in the last five days to try and find you one worth the name of ‘The Best Khao Soi in Bangkok.’
I did a hell of a lot of Googling, reading reviews, and asking around I came up with a list of khao soi restaurants in and around Bangkok city to try. I was excited, to say the least as I haven’t been to Chiang Mai for months, so I haven’t had a Khao soi for months which means I’m seriously craving one!
After trying my first two at Khao Soi, Soi Piphat (Silom Soi 3) and Ekkamai’s much hyped Hom Duan, I was a little deflated. Surely It had to get better than this?
The Khao soi at Piphat had a sweet broth, which is my worst nightmare when it comes to khao soi, and thin processed egg noodles reminiscent of packaged Hokkien noodles. Not a good start, although the Khao kan jin (steamed rice with pork blood) was exceptional, so if you have a craving for that then this is your place!
I was excited as I stepped into the packed Hom Duan, but that excitement soon turned to deflation as I took my first spoonful of the broth. It was a bit tasteless. Admittedly, I enjoyed it more once I’d seasoned it with chilli oil, lime, and pickled cabbage, but still, nothing to write home about. A bit too oily and lacking any depth of flavour. The gaeng hang lay (northern pork curry) was great there, though, with soft pork belly and the right spice levels. This article, after all, is a post about khao soi, so Hom Duan doesn’t make the cut.
Next up was Sukhumvit’s famous Gedhawa which has excellent northern Thai food, the khao soi was a bit lacking for me. At Dusit’s Khao Soi Chiang Mai, again, like at Huan Dom, it was lacking any real depth of flavour but did get better with some seasoning. Krua Aroi Aroi? The less said about that place, the better! Victory Monument’s Ruathong Noodle was better than expected (seeing it’s a boat noodle shop that I didn’t know sold khao soi), but it had a generic curry powder flavour that I don’t associate with a khao soi; Tasty but unusual!
I was beginning to give up hope until I went to a little place called Hann Khao Soi Lovers, down a small soi right next to Ari BTS station.
I only ordered the khao soi, but I hear everything is excellent at Hanh. The khao soi was spot on. It had just the right amount of coconut cream to make it rich enough without being overly creamy, great flavour from the ground spices without them taking over the dish, a fall off the bone chicken drumstick and perfectly cooked crispy fried noodles on top.
There were no sliced shallots with the sides but the thinly shredded cabbage it came with is something I haven’t had before. It added great texture and crunch to the dish. The pickled cabbage (pak dong) was excellent, and I enjoyed the fresh bean sprouts. If I were hypercritical, I would have liked to see some fresh lime wedges. They had lime juice on the table in a bottle, but it was a little sweet and tasted like it was from concentrate. Also, they had no chopsticks, but again these are minor details in the grand scheme of things. Hann Khao Soi Lovers could well make the top of the list; you’ll have to read on to find out!
To get there, take the BTS Skytrain to Ari and take exit number 1. The shop is at the end of the soi directly next to Piyavan Tower. It’s full of food stalls so you can’t miss it.
I almost stopped there for fear of another trip out of the way to get another substandard khao soi; boy am I glad I didn’t!
I’d heard about a place in Bangkok’s Dusit area, not too far from the Dusit Zoo that apparently had great khao soi, and I’m so happy I did. The name of the restaurant is Daradalay @BKK. The reason for the @ Bangkok in the title is that Daradalay is also the name an organic farm stay in Chiang Mai from the same family!
The whole setup at Daradalay is excellent. It’s set just off the main street on Pichai Road, in a lovely square that it shares with a cute coffee shop called Sit Down Please (which is the only way to find Daradalay on Google maps), and a cool bar next door called The Box. This little complex wouldn’t look out of place in the hipster area of Thonglor, though you might pay five times the price for your food and drinks!
Now on to the khao soi! I had my first mouthful, and I thought it the broth was a little sweet, my heart sank. I seasoned it with lime juice (fresh this time!), the excellent homemade chilli oil, the homemade organic pickled cabbage from the farm, and had another go.
Wow! No more sweetness, just a lovely rich, spicy khao soi. Just like the one at Hann, it was perfectly spiced and vibrant again with the right amount of coconut cream. The chicken fell off the bone, and the noodles were perfect.
One thing I was impressed with was the garnish on the side. All from the organic patch! The pickled cabbage was some of the best I’ve eaten, and the chilli oil was amazingly smokey.
The setting at DaraDalay is perfect for me, and so is the food. The staff are amicable, be warned though, they speak very little English, but they are all smiles, and you can’t go wrong if you say ‘khao soi gai’! At 50 baht (£1, $1.50) a bowl, you really can’t go wrong!
The only thing that might be off-putting if you live in the city is the location, as it’s not near any BTS stations. I got the Chao Phraya Express Boat (orange flag) from Sathorn (Central Pier) right next to Saphan Taksin BTS for 14 baht, and it’s a 20 minute stroll or 5 minute taxi/motorbike from there. Also, if you’re staying around the Khao San area, it’s a 15 minute cab from there.
So who wins the title ‘Best Khao Soi in Bangkok’? I’m going to Have to give it to Dara Dalay with Hanh coming a close second. Maybe you can go and try both and see if you agree!