Behind a temple, on a back road of one of the night markets in Chiang Mai, is my favourite khao soi eatery in the world. All the cooking is done with open stoves under the sky and the place is little more than a collection of benches and stools. The stools are low to the ground, so you are basically squatting while eating. There is no service to speak of and only one thing on the menu—noodles in a curry soup topped with crispy fried noodles. Preserved mustard, raw shallots, red chillies, and limes are in a big bowl for you to help yourself to. I loved eating this simple unpretentious dish under a clear December sky.
Khao soi is a dish that originated from the Chin Haw people. These people—mostly from Yunnan, China—migrated to the region decades ago for trade and other extracurricular activities relating to the Golden Triangle. There are variations to this dish based on country and region. In Laos, khao soi is made with rice noodles instead of egg noodles. In some parts of Thailand, the soup is not made with coconut milk at all.
For my vegan khao soi recipe, I am using a yellow noodle made in the PH (see below). If you cannot find a vegan yellow noodle, feel free to use rice noodles or white wheat noodles instead. I prefer wheat noodles over rice noodles for this dish so they are more springy though. For the curry, I do half yellow half red so the curry is more mild and comforting. If you like your vegan khao soi really spicy you can just make a full red curry.
Preserved mustard (pak gad dong klhem / 雪菜 xue cai) is a really important component in this dish. I make my own but I haven’t yet written the recipe out yet. You can find it in Asian grocers. FYI, the preserved mustard used in khao soi is the salty kind, not the sour kind. (Ask your neighbour Asian grocer!)