Ongtong Khao Soi in Ari Soi 7 serves good Northern Thai food where the khao soi gai (chicken) stands out, a dish that many tourists develop an addiction to. They also have a dry version with northern Thai sausage (khao soi haeng sai oua) that certainly is sweeter, and to be honest, doesn’t bear much resemblance with a standard khao soi as to many aspects of the dish is altered. It has a slightly burnt aroma. Beef and pork are other options, but I advice you to stay with the original. Their nam ngiew is tasty, but nothing that really rank.
Khao Soi is the dish that have put Northern Thai food on the culinary map. Be aware that the northerns have other excellent dishes as well, for example Khao Niaw (sticky rice), Naam Phrik Ong (chili dip) and Sai Oua (northern Thai sausage) to name a few. Anyway, Khao Soi and its popularity has definitively been the base ground for most northern Thai restaurants starting up in Bangkok.
Ongtong is a welcoming addition to the food scene in the central Ari area as Hann Khao Soi closed their doors some time ago. Ongtong serves a better bowl than the former Hann Khao Soi as it is slightly less fattier due to using more coconut milk and less coconut fat, giving it a more distinct flavor. Fat binds taste, but it can also easily overpower the delicate flavors from the spices being used. It could have beeb a better bowl with slightly less fattiness, but despite that, it is still one of the better options in Bangkok.
The original Khao Soi from the old days up north did not include coconut milk at all and is named Khao Soi Yunan. The reasoning behind the lack of coconut milk is most likely that many Chinese people are not too fond of it. Khao Soi is traditionally either based on chicken or beef, and back in the old days it was served with minced meat stir-fried with mustard greens and not as today with the chicken drumstick and the mustard greens on the side. There are several theories around the origin of Khao Soi. Austin Bush, in his fabulous book on Northern Thai food, states that a common theory among contemporary vendors is that coconut milk and dried spices were added to Khao Soi to suit the palates of central Thailand, or those of Chiang Mai’s Indian or Burmese communities. Another theory is that Khao Soi is inspired by the Burmese dish ohn-hno hkauk-hswe that is a combination of wheat noodles, a coconut milk based broth, chicken, a crispy deep fried noodle and garnish with lime and sliced shallots. And there are other theories as well.
Anyway, back to Ongoing Khao Soi. The chicken drumstick is properly made, It is tender and juicy and has a good flavor. The mustard greens are good as well. The flat egg noodles are decent, but not made on the spot. The broth or soup is rich and creamy and sligthly spicy, but without and danger to treat the fainthearted. It’s a decent deal considering the price of less than 80 bath.
The small restaurant have been able to create a nice atmosphere on the ground floor, with its simple but woody furnituring and yellow walls . The first floor on the other hand is as sterile as it can be, bearly suited for those with a preference for sticking the nose in the bowl. They have an English menu with photos. The service is friendly, but it can be a little wait prime time eating hours.
Ongtong Khao Soi is an easy spot to reach, with a one minute walk from the BTS Ari station.
Name: Ongtong Khao Soi
Food: Northern Thai food
Price: Cheap. Most dishes below 100 bath.
Open: Daily 10:30am-9pm
Address: 21 Phahon Yothin Soi 7
How to get there: Take the BTS to Ari station and walk from there.