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Khao Soi in Boston?

Dave MP Nov 3, 2010 08:04 AM

I just got back from the Twin Cities, MN, where I had some great Thai food - including khao soi. I'm wondering where in Boston I can try this dish....

I have read that Khao Sarn in Brookline has it. Any specific reports about this?

I don't see it on S&I's menu, but perhaps they can make it anyway? Although I suppose it takes a while to prepare, since it involves stewed chicken....do they ever have it as a special?

The dish is of Burmese origins, (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khao_soi) so it definitely has something in common with the Chicken/Coconut Noodle Soup served at YoMa, which I still haven't tried....

Thanks in advance,

Dave MP

-----
Khao Sarn
250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

  1. barleywino Nov 3, 2010 08:15 AM

    Rod Dee (now in Washington square Brookline) has Khao Soi but I don't remember having tried it there (although it has been one of my favorite dishes, elsewhere). I don't think Montien has it. I usually have to wear a plastic bib so that the curry broth coming off the two types of noodles doesn't splatter all over my shirt ;)

    1. MC Slim JB Nov 3, 2010 08:20 AM

      Khao Sarn does indeed have it; I like it, though like many dishes on its menu, it's probably more refined and offers less pungent/insinuating flavors that you might expect. I have not been back to Brown Sugar Cafe or The Similans lately, but both used to have it on their menus. The dish you want at YoMa is OhnNohKhotSwe, which is described as a soup.

      http://mcslimjb.blogspot.com/

      -----
      The Similans
      145 1st St, Cambridge, MA 02142

      Khao Sarn
      250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

      Brown Sugar Cafe
      1033 Commonwealth Ave, Boston, MA 02215

      1. lipoff Nov 3, 2010 08:28 AM

        Khao Sarn would be your best bet, IMHO, but Tamarind House, the surprisingly good (for mostly Americanized Thai) restaurant right near Porter Square also has it on their menu.

        -----
        Khao Sarn
        250 Harvard St, Brookline, MA 02446

        Tamarind House
        1790 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

        2 Replies
        1. re: lipoff
          tatsu Nov 3, 2010 11:44 AM

          Tamarind House, love it, their Pad Kee Mao is good, it used to be a bit better when they had the cherry sized eggplants in it. Their Yum Talay is my favorite SE asian summer dish, also the owner's favorite. Even the quality of the tea is good. Prik Pon is my magic fairy pixy dust as of late.

          The owner is from a town famous for Tamarind crops. She's great!

          -----
          Tamarind House
          1790 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

          1. re: tatsu
            f
            FoodDabbler Nov 5, 2010 08:12 AM

            Whew, I can come out of the kitchen closet and confess that I eat at Tamarind House from time to time, too.

            -----
            Tamarind House
            1790 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02140

        2. q
          qianning Nov 3, 2010 09:05 AM

          Maybe I am missing something, but why get a Burmese dish at a Thai restaurant when we are lucky enough to have a very good Burmese restaurant in Boston? MC Slim JB is correct, OhnNohKhotSwe is the Burmese name for the dish as it appears on Yo Ma's menu.

          9 Replies
          1. re: qianning
            Nab Nov 3, 2010 10:54 AM

            For the same reason you'd get a laksa at a Malaysian restaurant.

            1. re: qianning
              Allstonian Nov 3, 2010 11:00 AM

              Because it's not the same dish. It's a Thai dish that developed from OhnNohKhotSwe, but it seems to have gone off in its own direction.

              1. re: qianning
                Dave MP Nov 3, 2010 12:45 PM

                Like Allstonian said, they are not really the same dish, though the dishes probably share similar origins.

                Here's a thread from the SF board where this dish is discussed a bit more:
                http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/447845

                And here's a link to the Wikipedia article which explains the different types of khao soi. The version I had in St. Paul last weekend was exactly like the "Thai" version described in this article.

                http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Khao_soi

                1. re: qianning
                  digga Nov 3, 2010 04:59 PM

                  Yep, there is a difference in the two interpretations of this dish. I've had the great opportunity to have both the Burmese and Thai versions in the respective countries - both delicious and different (same same but different). I haven't had Yoma's OhnNohKhotSwe yet (still...grrr) but I've yet to find really good Khao Soi in Boston. We head to SE Asia again in two weeks...I'll be revved up to find any comparable dishes Stateside so I'll try to do some research once we're home.

                  1. re: digga
                    q
                    qianning Nov 4, 2010 04:07 AM

                    I stand corrected, my memory was that they were pretty much the same dish, but this thread sent me looking through all my Thai & Burmese cookbooks, and indeed the Thai versions all include some form/amount of soy sauce (which really surprised me) and some form/amount of sugar (which doesn't surprise me), where as Burmese versions never use either of these ingredients but always include besan flour as a thickener, which none of the Thai recipes use.

                    I've never had Khao Soi at any restaurant in Boston, but I have had the OhnNohKhotSwe at Yo Ma, and it is pretty good, but not my favorite dish from their menu by a long shot.

                    1. re: qianning
                      f
                      FoodDabbler Nov 5, 2010 08:10 AM

                      What Burmese cookbooks do you recommend?

                      1. re: FoodDabbler
                        Nab Nov 5, 2010 08:33 AM

                        awesome = http://www.hsaba.com/

                        1. re: FoodDabbler
                          q
                          qianning Nov 6, 2010 08:29 AM

                          "The Food of Burma" in the Periplus series is excellent in that the recipes come true, although the overall number of recipes is limited. Also, "Burmese Cooking" by Aung Aung Taik, and "Flavors of Burma" by Chan.

                          1. re: qianning
                            f
                            FoodDabbler Nov 6, 2010 10:15 AM

                            Thanks to you and Nab.

                  2. c
                    CookieLee Nov 4, 2010 05:48 PM

                    i'm a HUGE fan of Khao Soi. My favorite is at Brown Sugar Cafe. I also like the one at Khao Sarn. In the Super 88 Food Court in Brighton, Packard's Corner, the stand behind Wisteria makes a Malaysan soup which is v. much like Khao Soi.

                    6 Replies
                    1. re: CookieLee
                      j
                      Jenny Ondioline Nov 5, 2010 02:24 PM

                      I think you may be working on outdated information: there is no longer a Malaysian stall behind Wisteria, and there hasn't been for ages. (Heck, Wisteria itself has been closed for months! And for that matter, all this is in Allston, not Brighton.) That space is now a Thai restaurant called Smile Thai. I make no claims about their khao soi, because I usually get either the larb or the country-style pad thai.

                      1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                        c
                        CookieLee Nov 5, 2010 05:17 PM

                        oh dear, thanks for the update. I'll have to mosey on over there and see what's happenin'.

                        Lam's in Newtonville also has Khao Soi.

                        1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                          c
                          CookieLee Mar 20, 2011 08:42 AM

                          The place behind Wisteria is still there.

                          1. re: CookieLee
                            j
                            Jenny Ondioline Mar 20, 2011 09:57 AM

                            By "the place behind Wisteria," if you mean the Thai restaurant called Smile Thai, then yes. It had seemed like you were talking about the Malaysian place that Smile Thai replaced.

                            1. re: Jenny Ondioline
                              n
                              nasilemak Mar 20, 2011 07:41 PM

                              I thought that the spot was Indonesian, not Malaysian.

                              1. re: nasilemak
                                j
                                Jenny Ondioline Mar 20, 2011 07:53 PM

                                Now that you mention it, there were two short-lived restaurants in there in quick succession before Smile Thai moved in, and it's possible that one of them was Malaysian and one of them was Indonesian, or that they were both one or the other. But whatever they were, they've been gone for ages.

                      2. n
                        nasilemak Feb 1, 2011 09:25 AM

                        Just had the Khao Soi for lunch at Bangkok Blue. It was pretty good. The broth was not overly rich with coconut milk but had an appealing balance of the sweet and savory. The noodles were pretty much standard egg noodles. They added the accompaniments like the pickled mustard green into the bowl. I asked the waitress what was the reason behind it and she replied that most of their customers did not know how to incorporate the separate elements into the meal! I added some birds eye chilies and fish sauce for another layer of explosive flavor.

                        -----
                        Bangkok Blue
                        651 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

                        8 Replies
                        1. re: nasilemak
                          Dave MP Feb 2, 2011 11:20 AM

                          Cool, thanks for the report! I'll have to check this out soon!

                          Dave MP

                          1. re: Dave MP
                            digga Feb 2, 2011 02:59 PM

                            Wow. Bangkok Blue?! That's unexpected! Agreed, thanks for the tip!

                            -----
                            Bangkok Blue
                            651 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

                          2. re: nasilemak
                            c
                            CookieLee Feb 2, 2011 04:01 PM

                            I've never had pickled mustard greens in my khao soi. I'll have to go there and check it out!

                            1. re: nasilemak
                              EATTV Feb 17, 2011 04:47 PM

                              This account of the broth is closest to great khao soi to be had in Northern Thailand. Near the American Consulate in Chiang Mai is the King's favorite khao soiary. I must confess I had three bowls. Chicken, pork, and beef. The crenelated egg noodles and lightly curried broth are the ambrosia that great memories are made of. Here condiments are key and each diner balances his own"Thai taste". All that and a green Fanta and I'm good to go.

                              1. re: nasilemak
                                Nab Feb 23, 2011 04:19 PM

                                Thanks. I try to approach each bowl of khao soi with an open mind, as there are as many interpretations as there are cooks. I particularly had an appreciation for the lightness of the broth you noted above, though I do think that it could have benefited from braising chicken legs and using this meat as opposed to white breast meat. Though I was given fair warning from the hostess from Chiang Mai that this was to be the case. Nevertheless, it's a mild and silky smooth curry, and while it lacks the pungency and spice of other versions I enjoy, I was happy to have been given all requisite components to customize tastes. The pickled mustard greens in particular were excellent. Ultimately a well-balanced bowl of many contrasts.

                                 
                                 
                                1. re: Nab
                                  c
                                  CookieLee Feb 23, 2011 06:02 PM

                                  Nab, which restaurant is this khao soi from?

                                  1. re: CookieLee
                                    Nab Feb 23, 2011 06:19 PM

                                    Sorry Cookie -- Bangkok Blue, as previously posted by nasilemak above.

                                    -----
                                    Bangkok Blue
                                    651 Boylston St, Boston, MA 02116

                                    1. re: Nab
                                      c
                                      CookieLee Feb 24, 2011 03:49 AM

                                      tyvm! I gotta get there!

                              2. Dave MP Feb 2, 2011 08:22 PM

                                After reading this revived thread today, I was in the mood for Khao Soi, and I ended up with some friends at New Rod Dee in Brookline. We had khao soi, green curry tofu, chicken larb, fried spring rolls and golden triangles.

                                The khao soi was good. Not nearly as good as in the Twin Cities, but still not bad. The curry didn't taste like it had been actually stewing with any chicken - the boneless pieces of chicken seemed like they had just been incorporated. The curry itself was good, not very spicy, and somewhat lacking in any flavor depth - maybe too much coconut in proportion to other ingredients. Still, it was a nice presentation (which included a dollop of pickled vegetable already in the bowl), and both crispy and regular egg noodles. It was a pretty big serving - I wouldn't have been able to finish a dish on my own, so it was nice as a part of a larger meal.

                                The fried items were particularly good tonight - fried spring rolls especially were served piping hot and very crispy, hardly any grease. Golden triangles were great as well. Green curry was fine, but sorta boring and not spicy enough. Larb was good, but not great - really not close to as good as at S&I where the flavors just burst out.

                                Anyway, despite not being my favorite Thai in Boston, this was certainly a good meal.

                                Dave MP

                                2 Replies
                                1. re: Dave MP
                                  n
                                  nasilemak Feb 3, 2011 03:02 AM

                                  Apparently Rod Dee in Porter Sq. offers it too.

                                  1. re: nasilemak
                                    t
                                    T.B. Oct 26, 2011 11:49 AM

                                    Yes, they do. Finally got there last night and enjoyed it, and the leftovers had more spice kick at lunch today after marinating with the chili peppers. Rod Dee's reminded me a lot of YoMa's OhnNohKhotSwe (old transliteration from their on-line menu; sadly, their current menu is English only).

                                    Will have to ask next time if Rod Dee can make khao soi with dark-meat chicken, since white-meat-only comes out too dry for my tastes.

                                2. Nab Feb 17, 2011 10:21 AM

                                  I hadn't been to Penang in at least 7 years, and probably hadn't had more than 7 bowls of laksa since then either, but last week found myself with an opportunity to sit down to a bowl. Rich, with good body without being thick, a goodly bit of heat and blessedly low on sweet, it's most pronounced in packing a serious pucker. Thick, meaty noodles. Slurp'n'chew, it's a very fine rendition. Next time I might ask them to ladle a bit more fish for funk, and more of the standard fixins for mixin, but otherwise it's a bowl for the soul.

                                  I would really like to refresh my memory with all of their Malaysian dishes, in fact. It's been far too long.

                                  4 Replies
                                  1. re: Nab
                                    yumyum Feb 17, 2011 10:30 AM

                                    A) I would point out you were hepped up on valium at the time. Never mind, the laksa was still delish.

                                    B) I would point out that the waitress was super duper nice and responded sweetly when we inquired if it was sour and spicy. She also brought extra lemon wedges and chiles just in case.

                                    C) I would point you all to these pix: (first one is roti canai, my favorite dish at Penang)

                                     
                                     
                                     
                                    1. re: yumyum
                                      n
                                      nasilemak Feb 17, 2011 10:44 AM

                                      Yes Penang's assam laksa is not bad, though i wish they would add a few mint leaves. That's how it's garnished in back in Penang, Malaysia. I mentioned that to the manager and he said that mint was expensive!

                                      1. re: nasilemak
                                        Nab Feb 17, 2011 10:50 AM

                                        Was hoping you'd chime in - Looks like I'll bring in a satchel next time !

                                        Have you been enjoying any of their other Malaysian offerings lately ? How's their nasi lemak, nasilemak ?

                                        1. re: Nab
                                          n
                                          nasilemak Feb 17, 2011 11:12 AM

                                          I've enjoyed their nasi lemak awhile back - nice acar, dry curry chicken and anchovies. The rice itself is ok, no as fragrant as i would expect.
                                          Many of their renditions of hawker food, from the stir fry noodles and noodle soups to some of the appetizers are not bad. Especially considering the fact that those dishes are made by vendors who specialize in a single item. A couple of items though miss the mark, in particular lobak, popiah and wonton mee.

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