UPDATE (October 1, 2019): Eats Payao is no longer operating. They have opened up a new restaurant called “KIN by Eats Payao” not far from where they were previously that focuses on northern Thai cuisine. Their khao soi noodles are still amazing, too! You can read about their new venue here.
Eats Payao (official Facebook page) has always had a special place in my heart for 3 reasons:
- I am a huge fan of khao soi and they make the best khao soi I’ve had in Bangkok.
- The Chow Traveller blog idea was formulated at Eats Payao over bowls of khao soi nua.
- The proprietors, Gav and Khae, are incredibly hardworking, personable, and genuine good people to know.
I’m fortunate that it’s been located close to my home–it make’s it much easier to get my “fix” for khao soi noodles. When they talked about closing up shop I was so happy to hear that it was so that they could move to a larger place even closer to my home! With a larger kitchen they were also able to expand their Northern Thailand food menu to include Singaporean cuisine. Once they were up and running I figured it was time to revisit, and rewrite my original article to cover their new location, menu, and share their very special story.
Let the drooling begin….
I enlisted the aid of two friends to accompany me–this was going to be a feast and I wasn’t going to waste any food. My friends are a restauranteur couple and appreciate good food. They are Thai and I trust their candor and insights into the food dishes. I also wanted to make sure my palate wasn’t biased from my long term relationship that I have with Eats Payao. They confirmed what I’ve always felt–this is some amazing food and they have the best khao soi we’ve tried in Bangkok!
The famous khao soi!
Eats Payao is famous for their khao soi–it’s what put them on the map of Bangkok’s food scene. If you like a khao soi that has a thick, creamy gravy instead of a watery broth then this is a place you will enjoy! They offer 6 different khao soi noodle dishes:
- Khao Soi Chicken (145 baht) – Don’t expect a little chicken leg in this dish. It’s got a huge, meaty chicken thigh.
- Khao Soi Beef (180 baht) – Their #1 seller and my personal favorite made with tender slices of beef shank.
- Khao Soi Seafood (200 baht) – A good mix for fans of seafood.
- Khao Soi Crab (280 baht) – Their most expensive offering but absolutely worth it if you love crab. They really pile on big lumps of crab claw meat in this dish.
- Khao Soi Hed Thob (200 baht) – Unbelievably they have a vegetarian option for khao soi! Hed Thob are a Northern Thai wild mushroom with a very creamy texture and earthy flavor.
- Khao Soi Dry Prawns (180 baht) – Do you want the taste of khao soi but don’t want to risk getting yellow gravy on your white dress? THIS is for you. They make this in such a way as to coat the egg noodles with the creamy khao soi gravy sauce and top it with some sweet jumbo prawns. You can still doctor up the dish with chillies, onions, pickled greens, and lime juice. It’s all the flavor without the mess!
Eats Payao now offers Singaporean fare!
Historically, Eats Payao has been all about Northern Thai cuisine and the special flare that Khae instills in its preparation through experimentation with family recipes. Gav’s from Singapore and now that they’ve got a larger kitchen, he’s expanded the menu to include some seriously delicious Singaporean dishes.
This Prawn Noodle Soup (280 baht) was my first introduction to their new menu and it’s incredible. The broth is incredibly rich (made with prawn heads) and peppery. The dish itself is loaded with prawns and pork ribs where the meat just falls away from bone. I highly recommend this dish!
What smells like a shoe but tastes AMAZING?
I’ve never had Gaeng Som (180-200 baht) before. My first impression was that it smelled “funky”–like an old gym shoe. This dish is made with lotus lily stalks and mackerel (probably what gives it the “funk” smell). And like some cheeses I’ve had, if you look past the smell and you will be rewarded.
One of my friends that joined me really enjoyed this dish, though normally they are not fans of Gaeng Som. He explained to me that THIS version is different. It’s not sweet, and it’s not orange. This version is spicier and with a clearer broth. Khae informed me it’s different because she makes it with tamarind and white ginger.
This will fool you…
This is one of my favorite dishes. It tastes like pulled pork to me. Both of my friends were completely fooled and in disbelief that it’s not meat. Tam Kanoon (180 baht) is a stir fried young jackfruit salad. The only thing keeping it from being halal is the crispy pork rinds that accompany it. It gets it’s spiciness from the white ginger heat (coincidentally my choice for a dancer name should I ever pursue that vocation) that Khae blends into it.
Pretty…and pretty tasty!
This was a new dish for me and my friends. This Gaeng Kluay (220 baht) is made with young banana, pork belly, chilies, cha plu leaves, and kaffir lime slivers. I really enjoyed it as it is so completely different from any other Thai dish I’ve tried. Who would have thought to make a stew from young bananas and pork belly?
A chat with the owners…
Eats Payao was one of the first articles I wrote about when this blog started (it’s where the Chow Traveller blog was born). Unfortunately, my picture taking skills weren’t quite as polished, my writing a bit rambling, and I never delved into the story of Eats Payao’s origins. This rewrite of their new restaurant and menu affords me an opportunity to make it “right”. The owners of Eats Payao have a very interesting story that’s worth telling!
In the fall of 2015 if you wanted to try their khao soi you’d have to go to the monthly Farmer’s Market event at K Village. Gav and Khae started selling their food from small event stands they’d set up at any food event they could. Their offerings were simple: khao soi gai, nam ngiao, homemade Northern Thai sausages, and nam prik noom.
After a year and half of slinging their fare from hastily erected food stands, they’d saved up enough money and garnered enough support from fans of their food to open a small commercial kitchen on Chan Road. From this kitchen they were able to prepare food for delivery and catering events only. There wasn’t enough room for a dine-in option.
In just 6 short months they’d built up their business and was encouraged to open a small hole-in-the wall restaurant on Soi Nang Linchi around the beginning of 2017. On my first visit there they didn’t have air condition, they didn’t have paint on their walls, they didn’t even have a door. But what they did have was some AMAZING food (the best khao soi I’d had in Bangkok), and really personable service.
A star is born!
Great food and personable service are the two things that set them on a rocketing trajectory in the Bangkok food scene. They reinvested their money into fixing the place up (installing an air condition, glass door restaurant front, new kitchen, furniture, painting, and art). Through word of mouth and social media, they were soon covered in the Bangkok Post, BK Magazine Online, Bangkok 101, several other local food scene magazines, a myriad of local food bloggers, and even landing an article Bangkok Airways in-flight magazine Fah Thai (Sept/Oct ’17 edition, page 86)!
The sudden recognition was dizzying for them, but they stayed on top by keeping true to their roots with their personable service, and keeping their menu fresh with new items. But one thing they couldn’t overcome was the fact that they simply didn’t have enough room to serve all of the customers that would come by. Their deepest disappointment was having to turn away customers when they had a full house.
Time to expand!
In early 2018 an opportunity presented itself in that they could relocate their restaurant to a much larger establishment. They closed the Nang Linchi restaurant in February and went straight to work refurbishing a 4 story town home on Soi Yen Akat. They opened their doors to the public March 10th, 2018.
The first floor provides ample seating, with available seating outside as well. The second floor is currently still being renovated with completion expected in April. This floor will be a “play area” for families that bring their small children. The third floor is their family living space, and the fourth floor is being renovated to be a single large B&B room with expansive private terrace/garden.
Both Gav and Khae have big dreams for their restaurant–they’re constantly improving and innovating their menu and the Eats Payao scene. I believe this is a story that is far from over. I believe their story has just begun!
I’m hungry! Where is it?
The Google Map location may be a little off but you honestly can’t miss this place unless the houses around it decide to go orange as well. It’s located right next to a 7-11 store–the only one on Soi Yen Akat!
If you love khao soi then this place should be on your list to try. But I would recommend visiting with a few friends so that you can get a nice sampling of their other menu items. Enjoy with some glasses Leo Draft Beer (330 ml/90 baht)!