Background to Noodles in Thailand
I became aware of the variety of noodles on the menu immediately I arrived in Chiang Mai. Traditional Thai noodle dishes use several types of noodle, normally accompanied with optional seasonings and textures. For instance, mild spice and sour (chilli in vinegar), harsh spicy (crushed red chilli in vinegar), fish sauce and sugar. Sukhothai Noodles are comparable in some aspects yet have a distinct style as this article will discuss. You can also enjoy them further afield in Provinces such as Chiang Mai, Bangkok and Lampang.
When visiting Sukhothai you should try these thin rice noodles (Sen Lek) with sliced, roasted and minced pork. The main difference between Thai and Sukhothai noodles is that Sukhothai noodles come with green beans, salted turnip, peanuts and lime juice. They are somewhat sweeter and sourer than typical Thai noodles with the addition of palm sugar, lime, fish sauce and crushed chilli. I found the dish full-flavoured, aromatic and filling, and you can choose two versions, either with or without soup.
Sukhothai Noodle Soup
The soup is made from delightful aromatic pork stock which is vibrantly red from the spices and sweet, barbeque pork. Meanwhile, the Sen Lek noodles become soft but dense from cooking which complements other elements of the dish. Above all the soup is an appetising, subtly sweet bowl bursting with flavours and textures which I highly recommend.
Sukhothai Noodles Dry
This version provides alternative flavours, colours and balance, and many of the ingredients maintain their crunch. Some shops serve the noodles with varying accompaniments, namely, crispy baked pork, pork crackling and fried wonton skins. For instance, green beans bring crunch while freshly toasted peanuts are a tasty accompaniment.
Locations to try Sukhothai Noodles
Ta Puy, Sukhothai New City
Ta Puy is one of many noodle restaurants on the road that connects the old and new cities of Sukhothai. Ta Puy’s primary attraction is their delicious Sukhothai noodles, served with and without soup. We stopped en route to the fabulous Sukhothai Historical Park and I can honestly say the noodles were delightful.
Noklae Sukhothai Noodle, Chiang Mai
I have recently met the owner of Noklae Sukhothai Noodle who is a fellow member of my current F45 gym. After finishing our workout my girlfriend and I frequently visit to enjoy an appetising lunch. The restaurant is popular in Chiang Mai and beyond, inside are photos with film stars who have visited. Above all, the menu options are plentiful including rice dishes like Kaao Ka Moo (braised pork leg). We’ve sampled several dishes, certainly the Sukhothai Noodles, and other members of our gym often dine here.
Khao Perb Yai Krieng – alternative Sukhothai Noodles
Khao Perb Yai Krieng was recommended by my girlfriends mother before we embarked on our trip from Korat to Chiang Mai. After visiting the amazing Sukhothai we ventured 80km north where Khao Perb Yai Krieng is hidden amongst rice fields. Rather than use stoves and pots, they use just steamers covered with cloth to cook everything they serve. We sampled the Khao Perb pork soup, Guadtiao Bae (dry version). and the colourful Mee Pun (rice noodles in homemade rice paper). Certainly these dishes were incredibly delicious and attractive, particularly Mee Pun, and to experience this style of cooking was fascinating.
Living in Thailand has taught me a remarkable amount about the way ingredients can be used to balance flavours. I am continually learning new dishes including diverse, regional variations of certain national favourites. One of these is Phrae style noodles (from Phrae Province) which can be found at Bpan Sen Nam Yoi in Chiang Mai. I’ve noticed they serve Phrae-style Kanom Jeen Nam Ngiaw, a northern noodle soup found in many Khao Soi restaurants. Meanwhile, there are several other Sukhothai Noodle restaurants in Chiang Mai which I have discovered and highly anticipate sampling.