With Khao Soi, it’s all about the spice.
Its origins go back to the Hui people of the predominantly Muslim Chinese province of Yunnan. Since its conception, Khao Soi has evolved and drawn inspiration from different cultures and traditions over the years. Today, it is widely associated with the northern region of Thailand, particularly Chiang Mai.
The dish is traditionally made with Thai red chili, ginger, turmeric, shallots, roasted coriander seeds and black cardamom crushed in a mortar until it turns into a thick paste. This batter is fried in a skillet, marinated in a protein of choice (usually chicken), then submerged in coconut milk. And despite the scorching weather, Khao Soi is a year round intuition worth nurturing, no matter how severe the meat (or curry) sweat is. Here are the best we’ve spotted in and around town.
Or: 8101 S rue Quebec, Centenaire
Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tuesday to Friday: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday: 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Sunday: 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The truth: Owned and operated by married couple Chuthamet Panthawong and Kritcharat Chainarongsophon, At Nine Thai first opened in Greenwood Village in December 2018, with plans for an additional location at the Denver Tech Center slated to open in late July. Hailing from Chiang Mai and Bangkok, the couple, with the help of their family, blend northern and southern Thai cuisine to deliver Centennial with an authentic and long-awaited Thai place.
The Khao Soi here is a bit of a spectacle. While the menu features staples like som tum (green papaya salad) and a tom yum hot pot which are a must – the Khao Soi ($ 10.95) is particularly effective with the incorporation of traditional flavors from Chiang Mai. Served with a variety of protein options, it’s made with a special curry sauce. We’re not sure what exactly is in it, but it’s not for the faint of heart when it comes to spice. There are options to keep it low, but don’t overdo it.
Or: 845 Colorado Blvd, Denver and 4370 Tennyson St, Denver
Hours: Sunday-Thursday 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The truth: thai swing has expanded its presence in the Denver metro area since its initial launch in 1998, when Denver-native Jay Dedrick and Bangkok-native Siriporn “Duke” Tayaputch opened the restaurant’s first restaurant near Wash Park. The chain now has a spot on Colorado Boulevard, Tennyson Street and the original location on Alameda Avenue and Pennsylvania Street was reworked into a new concept, Hey Bangkok, late last year that also serves delicious Khao Self.
Swing Thai’s signature dish, “Kaw Soy Curry” ($ 14) is topped with pickled cabbage, lime, and crispy fried egg noodles, mixed with its yellow curry sauce. It’s spicy, it’s rich and it’s entitled to zero leftovers.
Or: 2134 Larimer Street, Denver
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 11 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
The truth: Located in Ballpark, the modern twist of traditional Thai cuisine opened its first restaurant in Denver a decade after its inception in downtown Boulder, Aloy Thai Cuisine. Owner Kim and her two daughters, Bo Bean and Arisa Chanchokpong, immigrated to Boulder in 2006 and opened their doors to serve authentic Thai dishes derived from family recipes. Sisters Bean and Chanchokpong presented their contemporary concept at LoDo, Modern Thai Aloy, in 2016. The two merge traditional Thai cuisine with an emphasis on sustainability, community and conscience through a seasonal menu and teaming up with local farmers to source healthy, local ingredients.
The atmosphere, quality of food, and culinary passion infused with every meal extends to his Kao Soi ($ 20.25), presented on special plates. Served with simmered chicken, coconut yellow curry and then topped with a fried egg, it’s a surprisingly light dish, but it will keep you full. Pair it with an adult Thai tea to chill the heat.
Or: 406 E Colfax Ave, Denver
Hours: Closed on Wednesday. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-9.30 p.m. Friday: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. and 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m.-9 p.m.
The truth: Tasty thai opened its first location in Denver in April 2018 by Aom Roon with the help of his son, Jortamoit (Jor) Dam Roon. The family business, now a chain of three, expanded to Aurora after taking over Traditional Thai Thai Bua in 2019. His most recent spot, Tasty Thai and Sushi, opened in Westminster in January 2021. Belonging to the Mon ethnic group, the Roon family fled the genocide in Myanmar and sought refuge in Thailand, before settling in Colorado in 2005. After holding several jobs , Aom, with Jor’s help, brought their love and passion for Thai culture and cuisine to Mile High City.
The Khaw Soy ($ 12) is made with a homemade curry paste and a choice of protein, making it an authentic method of flavorful and delicious curry-based soup. And the menu already tells you it’s spicy. So keep towels handy, it could drip.
Or: 8000 E Quincy Ave, Denver and 218 Union Blvd, Lakewood
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
The truth: Tuk Tuk Thai Grill opened in Colorado in 2000, expanded to Denver Tech Center in 2004 and then to Lakewood in 2009. Sumalee (Mama Sue) and Vichol (Papa Vic) Chinsomboon immigrated to the United States 50 years ago. Today the business is run by daughters Minty Chinsomboon and Mildy Sundarapura, as well as Mildy Chawanon’s husband.
Mama Sue’s recipes have evolved to more suit Western-style palettes. But even if it’s not quite traditional, it’s still a game worth it. The Khao Soi ($ 14) here is made with a blend of yellow and red curry that orients it towards spices and flavor. In October of last year, Mama Sue launched her own brand of homemade chili oil – she is not very retired – Mom Sue’s Kitchen, which has had pop-ups around Denver, including at Dairy Block and Infinite Monkey Therom, with plans to announce more pop-ups soon.
Or: 2120 S Broadway, Denver
Hours: Tuesday-Friday: 11 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday: 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m. Saturday & Sunday: 4:30 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The truth: Owners Rick and Noy Farrell opened the first Taste of Thailand restaurant in Englewood in 1994 and moved to its new location on South Broadway in 2015. Chef Noy – literally – brings visitors a taste of Thailand; she goes home every year (less in 2020) and comes back with locally sourced spices in bulk from Thailand to store and use year round in recipes. Noy and Rick grow herbs, leaves, seeds, fruits and more in their garden to mix them in the dishes as well. So, not only do Denverites have a literal taste of Thailand, but a journey full of love and community with every dish and ingredient.
Noy’s Khao Soi ($ 14.95) is on the special menu, for obvious reasons. Preparation takes time and it uses a mixture of turmeric, curry and herbal spices for the broth, while the chicken drumsticks marinate in red curry, coconut milk and lemongrass overnight. . This cooks slowly in the curry, topped with crispy noodles and classic condiments, including basil leaves. She’s a seasoned chef, to say the least, having taught Thai cooking classes in Boston and Denver. If you’re looking for an authentic, authentic taste of Thailand in Denver, head to South Broadway.
Or: 1700 Platte St Suite 140, Denver
Hours: Monday-Thursday: 5 p.m. – 10 p.m. Friday & Saturday: 12 p.m. – 10 p.m. Sunday: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m.
The truth: Chef-owner Ounjit Hardacre started operating a small noodle cafe in Bangkok, then worked at high-end Thai restaurants in San Francisco while completing his MBA. She brought her culinary skills to Thai Girl Kitchen & Bar in 2019 and directs it alongside Dueanphen Rungru-eang and Orrapan Bottaisong
Khao Soi Kai ($ 19) is served with grated chicken and topped with a hard-boiled egg, bean sprouts, and crunchy red and green onions. If you want a robust upgrade, try it a la Mae Sai, served with a short rib slowly braised, then drizzled with a thick, creamy curry sauce – a common way to cook the dish in Chiang Rai province. , in northern Thailand. Choose your fighter: sweet, medium or spicy. But it’s spicy Thai, so be prepared to sweat it if you go for the bold choice.
Or: 98 Wadsworth Blvd # 117, Lakewood
Hours: Closed on Mondays. Tuesday-Saturday: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday: 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m.
The truth : Family duo, mother-daughter May Uree and Toon Imjart run the show at this cozy Lakewood restaurant that debuted in May 2019 with California-inspired cooking skills infused into traditional Thai cuisine – think loaded veggies – and a welcoming and relaxed atmosphere in the heart of one of Denver’s busiest metro areas.
Authentically Thai, Farmhouse Thai Eatery has an endless array of options, but the flavor profile of Kao Soi ($ 15) is excellent, with spices that pack a punch. Served with egg noodles in a curry and coconut sauce with a quarter chicken thigh, the presentation alone is the closest thing you might find in Denver to street food in Thailand.