Best for: Organic, healthy, nam ngiaw
Run by the same people behind Chiang Mai organic farm and homestay Dara Dalay, this restaurant is, for many, home to Bangkok’s best khao soi
(noodles in Northern-style curry). From a tree-enshrined shack in Dusit, they do a brief list of Northern dishes like kanom jeen nam ngiaw
(rice vermicelli with spicy pork and tomato soup, B40) and, of course, an addictive take on khao soi (B40) whose perfectly rich soup features a nice balance of flavors and tender chicken. Almost every dish here is made with organic vegetables grown on the farm either here or up North. Keep an eye on www.fb.com/daradalay
for news of when they’ll be serving special dishes like hed nueng namprik kha
(steamed mushrooms with galangal paste).
Pichai Market, Pichai Rd., 086-378-3837, 089-499-2878. Open Mon-Sun 12-7pm
Best for: Home-style classics and affordable drink deals
One of Sathorn’s best-kept secrets recently found a proper home by giving a Nanglinchee shop-house a vibrant pink makeover. Here, they serve up traditional recipes from Phayao province with the occasional premium ingredient or fusion flourish. Signage boldly proclaims this to be the home of “the best khao soi in town” and the headliner of rich and flavorful Northern-style curry noodles (available with chicken, beef, crabmeat, B80/120/280) isn’t far off. Other mainstays include nam prik noom (green young chili dip, B100), kanom jeen ngam ngiaw (a smoky, pungent noodle dish of Shan orgin, starting from B80) and the delicious gaeng hang lay (spicy pork belly curry, B120) to wash down with a bottle of Mahanakorn beer or Asahi draft. They currently offer buy-one-get-one on drinks daily from 5-9pm.
95/3 Nang Linchi Rd., 094-303-5833. Open daily 11:30am-11pm
Best for: Northern food in a mall
When we head back to the old-school Union Mall, it’s not for the cheap clothes, but for this little place tucked away in the underground level. Han Jao Nua is run by a Northerner who claims to always be on-site to guarantee the quality of her food. Her khao soi gai (B65) has a nicely balanced flavor, augmented by some very tender chicken. Other recommendations include the variety of curries in clay pots lining the counter. Try the gaeng hang lay (B120) or gaeng pakkard jor (spicy Lanna-style Chinese cabbage soup with kapi, B90)—you’ll lick your bowl clean.
B/F, Union Mall, Ladprao Rd., 081-712-6091. Open daily 10am-8:30pm. MRT Phahon Yothin
Best for: A convenient quick lunch
Tucked in a modest shop-house just a hop from BTS Ekkamai, this restaurant packs out at lunchtime for its khao gaeng-style offerings (ever-changing curries over rice, from B50) and khao soi gai (B80). Even with the dirt-cheap prices they say everything is made in-house, from the nam prik noom (B80), to the tum kanoon (jackfruit mixed with spicy chili paste, B60), gaeng hang lay (B80) and sai oua (B60)
Ekkamai Soi 2, 085 037 8916. Open Mon-Sat 9am-10pm. BTS Ekkamai
Best for: Chill garden vibes
Located in the very heart of Bangkok, Gedhawa has a lovely atmosphere—a garden, lots of tung (Northern flags) and the owner’s Lanna-evoking knick-knacks. They do many Northern-style dishes, including a pleasantly light version of khao soi. Add some of their fresh condiments for a more flavorful bowl (B85). Another must-try is the kua kae (stir-fried vegetables with chicken, B120), which tastes properly homemade.
25 Sukhumvit Soi 35, 02-662-0501. Open Mon-Sat 11am-2pm; 5-10pm
Best for: Khao soi worth traveling for
The legendary, 70-year-old khao soi joint in Chiang Mai also has a branch in Bangkok, albeit one far-removed from the BTS line. This spot is run by the daughter of founder Auntie Lumduan and we can assure you that; like mother, like daughter. It’s all about the khao soi here, and if you’re the type of person who likes yours dense, spicy and salty then this is the place. We like the deep-fried noodles, which are crunchy yet fresh, and we always get a bowl of slow-cooked baby back ribs (B50) to go with.
16/54 Vipawadee-Rangsit Soi 58, 085-916-9905, 02-579-6403, 081-919-0951. Open daily 8:30am-3pm (closed last Sun of the month)
Best for: Authentic flavors without leaving Thonglor
Originally a delivery service, Kruajiangmai serves Northern Thai food made using ingredients the Chiang Mai-native owner sources directly from the North. These she turns into delicious staples like the intense khao soi gai (B95), nam prik noom (green chili relish, B120) and gaeng hang lay with pork knuckle (B150). You’ll also find some rarer dishes like khao ngiao (steamed rice with pork blood and herbs in banana leaf, B55) and stir-fried pak chiangda (a Northern local vegetable) with egg (B120). They even store sai oua (Northern curry sausage, B170) made by the owner’s family in Chiang Mai. Delivery throughout Bangkok starts from B60. Two hours advanced ordering necessary.
Thonglor Soi 7-9. 099-196-2464. Open Tue-Sun 11am-11pm. BTS Thong Lo
Best for: Variety
From a down-to-earth, country-style wooden house, Lumphon-raised owner Anchalee Prommart dishes out flavor-packed home recipes. On any given day there are 30-40 different curries and a self-service fresh vegetables station (starting at B50). Start your meal with the kong kao wai (B160), a platter of Northern-style hors d’oeuvres covering sausage, crispy pork belly and minced pork stuffed in fried Northern green chilli. Also worth your while are staples like nam prik nam pu (grilled chili paste mixed with shrimp paste, B40), laab khua (spicy salad with pork and herbs, B70) and gaeng kanoon kradook moo on (curry with jackfruit, B80).
Sammakorn Village, Ramkhamhaeng Rd., 02-729-6275. Open Wed-Mon 10am-9pm