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Eating the Best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai: 5 Restaurants to Try

best khao soi in Chiang Mai

What is khao soi?

Khao soi is the culinary pride of Chiang Mai, Thailand. A great bowl of khao soi noodles is chewy, crunchy and full of flavours found only in the Golden Triangle. Khao soi is a dense broth made of yellow curry paste, coconut cream and smokey black cardamom. The broth is served with noodles and chicken legs stewed from the soup mixture. The bone-in richness of “Khao Soi Gai” is a one pot perfection when finished with the right amount of coconut cream.

Khao soi always includes a crunchy topping of fried egg noodles and chilli. The textural distinction of Khao soi is what sets this bowl apart from any other Thai curry dishes. In fact, it’s not a “curry” at all. Half stew, Half noodle soup. 

This northern Thai delicacy is one-hundred percent delicious in all forms. Variations of the classic have evolved over the years. A popular beef version and some restaurants offering vegetarian options are among what can be found in the region.

But what makes khao soi so good it’s written about on every Chiang Mai food blog? 

The crown jewel of Chiang Mai Cuisine is unique in both flavor and composition. Let’s take a closer look at what makes this dish so unforgettable.

The bowl. Chewy, golden chinese-style egg noodles are rarely found in traditional Thai cooking. The silky egg noodles are heavier and chewier than Thai rice noodles. These noodles have more body to transport the lighter stew from bowl to mouth. Egg noodles are also less prone to over cooking so they keep their toothsome chew when served in the broth.

The broth. This is where you experience the taste of Chiang mai and the influence of Thailand’s northern borders. It could be debated; Is Khao soi Burmese? Laotian? But we aren’t here to discuss the history of khao soi, only what makes it delicious. In Chiang Mai, food is herbaceous, smokey and less sweet than in the south. The spice mixtures used in the northern provinces of Thailand are most similar to the flavor profiles used in Myanmar. Burmese food has adopted many of the same cooking techniques and spice masalas used in India. While both Thai food and Indian food use curry copiously, they are fathoms different in flavor. Think of Burmese cuisine as the middle ground. Bold masala spice from Burma balanced with the delicate sweetness of  Thai-style coconut cream. That’s what you should taste in a well balanced Khao soi broth.  

The pièce de résistance. Without the crispy fried egg noodles khao soi would be a sad sort-of Laska. While the size, shape and portion may vary between vendors; no khao soi would be complete without it. Tangy pickled greens, shallots, fish sauce, lime wedges, coriander and extra chillies are served as a side dish (or bag if you eat in the street). The nest of noodles provides an island for extra flavor customization. Very rarely will a garnish get so much cred.   

It’s no secret Chiang Mai has limitless options to choose from, so we ate khao soi consecutively for 14 days (sometimes twice) in search of the best. These are our top 5 best khao soi restaurants in Chiang Mai.

The Best Khao Soi I’ve Ever Eaten

I stumbled upon this 70-year-old legend on an aimless early morning wander through Chiang Mai. As luck would have it – this bowl of noodles became the most unforgettable meal I’ve ever had in Thailand.

Spicy-sweet broth, always al dente eggs noodles and garnish goals make Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham worth travelling for. The depth and spice of the oily red soup are an expert level balancing act to which fresh Coconut cream is added. Unlike other versions where coconut cream simmers with the broth for hours, this addition comes last. This variation also lets you have the final say in the taste and texture of your Khao Soi. Like adding cream to your morning coffee, everybody has a preference – Lam Duan Fah Ham lets you choose. Also, coconut cream is delicate and over cooking can cause it to lose its sweet, nutty flavour. Well played, Lamduan!

Lam Duan khao soi

Khao Soi Lam Duan Fah Ham

Located on the Ping River near Wat Fa Ham temple. The humble exterior of Lam Duan Fah Ham might not suggest its nearly century old reputation. Locals and tourists agree without question this is the best Khao Soi in Chiang Mai if you’re picky about noodles and like your Khao Soi dense, spicy and salty. Lam Duan Fah Ham might boast the best Khao soi in the world, and word is spreading. The daughter of founder Auntie Lamduan recently Opened a second location a few minutes north of Chatuchak Market in Bangkok. Proof good news and good food travel – do not miss this famous family recipe!

Location: 352/22 Charoen Rat Road near Wat Fa Ham Temple, Chang Phueak, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand

Contact: +66 53 243 519

Hours of Operation: N/A

Khao Soi Mae Manee

Khao Soi Mae Manee

Khao Soi Mae Manee opened in 1984 serving various noodle dishes. Over time, this humble noodle shop has evolved into a multi-award winning, Michelin-recognized, humble, khao soi hotspot. Claiming to serve “the most flavorful bowl of Khao Soi in Chiang Mai”, Mae Manee specializes in “khao soi neua”, a beef variation. With so much popularity, Mae Manee has opened a second location serving the same family recipes. Both locations are a short 10-20 minute drive outside the Old City and well worth a special trip.  

Location: 18, Soi 24, Chottana Road Changpuak Subdistrict, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand

Contact: +66 81 961 2235 

Hours of Operation: 9am-3:30pm daily.

Khao Soi Sirichai

Khao Soi Sirichai, Chiang Mai

Come for the Hainanese chicken rice and stay for the Khao Soi. Wait, what? That’s right, poached “khao man gai”  (the Thai word for Hainanese chicken) served up alongside handfuls of khao soi noodles in the thick, oily curry broth we know and love. Sirichai takes a top spot serving up one of the most genius variations of khao soi gai we’ve ever heard of. If you’re a stickler for the classics, a traditional version is also available. We recommend the remix and saving room for chicken rice!

You can find Khao Soi Sirichai in the center of the Old City a block east of the Three Kings Monument. You’re welcome.

Location: Inthawarorot Rd., Chiang Mai 50200 Thailand

Contact: +66 81 672 6756

Hours of Operation: 6am-3pm daily.

Khao Soi Khun Yai 

Khao Soi Khun Yai

Loosely translated, Khao Soi Khun Yai means “Grandma’s Khao Soi.” What’s better than food lovingly prepared by your grandma? Easy, khao soi. Now we have the best of both worlds.

This popular spot is located inside the Old City on the Northern wall. The sign is only in Thai so keep an eye out for the green tarps tucked between two temples. 

Location: Sri Poom Road Just After Sri Poom 8 Alley, Chiang Mai Thailand

Contact: +66 86 712 4314

Hours of Operation: 10am-2pm daily. Closed Sundays.

Dash!

Dash! Chiang Mai restaurant

The best khao soi almost always includes a low plastic stool and is only available until the mid afternoon. Some might say sitting sweaty on the sidewalk slurping noodles has a romance of its own. Dash! Is NOT that.

With its traditional teak interior, live music and balconies overlooking the garden terrace. Dash! may not be what you think of when you’re in need of a mind-blowing bowl of noodles. 

However, the mother-son team at Dash! have gained a reputation for their exceptional service and you guessed it, Khao soi. 

Ambiance abound, Dash! Is located in the heart of Chiang Mai only a few blocks from Thapae Gate and open late! Get there early or you might have to wait to try one of the best restaurants Chiang Mai has to offer.

Location: 18, Soi 24, Chottana Road Changpuak Subdistrict, Chiang Mai 50000 Thailand

Contact: +66 81 961 2235

Hours of Operation: 8:30am- 2:00pm, 5:30pm-9:00pm daily. Closed Mondays.

Khao Soi is a Chiang Mai Cuisine Staple

Chiang Mai and Thailand’s rural border villages are the home and birthplace of khao soi. Served and celebrated by street carts and fine dining rooms everywhere there’s no difficulty finding this delicious delicacy. Nowhere offers a higher concentration of varieties to choose from. To become a khao soi connoisseur, stroll down any street in Chiang Mai, find a low stool and deep dive into the region’s signature dish. It might be the best thing you’ve ever eaten. 

Could you eat khao soi everyday? Khao soi lovers let us know your favorite place to eat khao soi in the comments below.

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The 21 Best Thai Dishes to Try When Visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai

best Thai dishes

The 21 Best Thai Dishes to Try When Visiting Bangkok and Chiang Mai

Essential Thai Foods You Have to Try at Least Once

Whether you like your food spicy or Thai spicy, there’s Thai dishes out there for everyone. Although Thai food is near synonymous with being extra spicy, it is also characterized by the giant sweet tooth of Thai culture. As often as I’ve heard someone ask for Thai spicy when ordering their favorite Thai dish (usually from a street food vendor), I’ve heard foreigners ask for regular sweet instead of Thai sweet just as much. It’s a country where asking for ‘no sugar’ often means ‘less sugar than how Thais like it’.

Top 9 Most Popular Thai Dishes

  • Khao Soi (Chiang Mai curry noodles)
  • Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles)
  • Kaeng Massaman (Massaman Curry)
  • Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)
  • Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)
  • Pad Kra Pao (Thai Basil Stir-Fry)
  • Khao Man Gai (Boiled chicken with rice)
  • Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry)
  • Pad Woon Sen (Stir-fried glass noodles)

khao soi gai (Northern Thai curry noodles with chicken)

Khao Soi (Chiang Mai curry noodles)

Khao Soi is a curry noodle soup from Northern Thailand, garnished with crispy fried noodles. It is most commonly served with chicken (khao soi gai) and comes with lime, chili paste, raw shallots and pickled cabbage on the side. Khao soi is a staple of Chiang Mai cuisine, while it can be difficult to find in Bangkok.

chicken pad thai

Pad Thai (Thai stir-fried noodles)

Pad Thai is by far the most famous Thai food globally, but it isn’t eaten by Thais as much as you’d think. Pad Thai consists of rice noodles, peanuts, scrambled egg, bean sprouts and a choice of chicken, beef or tofu. It is made by sauteing all the ingredients in a wok and then tossed in the signature tangy salty pad thai sauce.

Thai massaman curry

Kaeng Massaman (Massaman Curry)

Massaman curry is an Indian-fusion dish that stands out from other Thai curries. Originally brought to the region by Muslim traders, it makes use of both Indian (cardamom, cinnamon, bay leaves, potato) and Thai ingredients (chili peppers, coriander, lemongrass, shrimp paste, garlic). Although its exact origins are debated among food historians, it is widely accepted that massaman curry has Indian and Malay influences.

📷 Photo Credit: Camile Thai Facebook

tom yum goong soup

Tom Yum Goong (Hot and Sour Soup with Shrimp)

Tom yum, or tom yam, is a Thai-Chinese hot and sour soup typically served with shrimp. Tom yum is a simple light soup made with fresh lemongrass, galangal, chilies, kaffir lime leaves, fish sauce and a splash of fresh lime juice at the end.

Like many other Thai dishes, it’s tough to replicate the authentic taste of Tom Yum made in the motherland. You will likely have trouble finding galangal (Thai ginger) outside of Asia. Although not mandatory for a good tom yum, galangal is an herb used to neutralize the strong fishy aroma. Try your local Asian supermarket and cross your fingers!

📷 Photo Credit: Temple of Thai

Thai papaya salad

Som Tum (Spicy Green Papaya Salad)

Originating from Laos as ‘tam som’ or ‘tam maak hoong’, som tum is a unique salad that is popular throughout Southeast Asia. The most popular version of som tum served in Thailand is served with dried shrimp and peanuts, often eaten with sticky rice and other Northeastern Thai dishes. Sometimes the dried shrimp is substituted with salted crab (som tum pbooh).

📷 Photo Credit: Brian Bone

pad kra pao (basil chicken with rice)

Pad Kra Pao (Holy Basil Stir-Fry)

Pad kra pao is the closest cultural equivalent to a sandwich in Thai cuisine. This rustic, spicy stir-fry features the incredible aroma of holy basil, served with rice and topped with a fried egg. It’s a quick and easy meal found in almost any street-side restaurant, street food vendor or food court. The slightly runny fried egg brings a creaminess when prepared Thai style: fried in plenty of oil so that the egg whites have bubbly brown edges.

khao man gai (Thai style Hainanese boiled chicken)

Khao Man Gai (Boiled chicken with rice)

Khao man gai is the Thai version of Hainanese chicken rice; it is one of the simplest meals and a testament to a chef’s prowess. Simplicity in cooking is tough to achieve while satisfying the taste buds of many. The dish is served as a chicken rice soup, often with spicy, congealed chicken blood as an optional side.

In Bangkok, you’ll find chicken rice carts or Khao man gai specialty restaurants without even trying. The best place in Thailand for this dish is เม้งโภชนา (เล็ก) เจริญกรุง 59 in Bangkok, located at Charoenkrung Soi 59. This place is locally famous among Thais and expats as a hotspot for the only place to eat khao man gai. I was lucky enough to live across the street for a number of years, filling my cravings on a whim any day of the week.

📷 Photo Credit: Atsushi Hariu

Thai green curry

Gaeng Keow Wan Gai (Thai Green Curry)

The secret of Thai green curry paste is that it’s fried in coconut cream at the start of preparation. The coconut cream absorbs the paste without any need for oil in the pan. Coconut cream is the more traditional way to make a Thai green curry, but this is often substituted with coconut milk for a less thick curry experience.

Many will claim that store-bought curry pastes do the trick just fine, but the authentic Thai flavour lies in the mortar and pestle.

📷 Photo Credit: Nicha The Wanderer ณิชาพาตะลอน

Thai glass noodles

Pad Woon Sen (Stir-fried glass noodles)

Pad woon sen is a classic Thai dish almost as popular as pad thai itself! Glass noodles are stir-fried with crunchy vegetables (usually carrots and shredded cabbage), grilled chicken, tomatoes, onions and garlic. The silky smooth glass noodles (also known as bean thread noodles or cellophane noodles) are often mistaken for rice vermicelli when uncooked. The main difference between these types of noodles is that once cooked, glass noodles are translucent and rice vermicelli has a white, opaque appearance.

📷 Photo Credit: Street Food Hunters

Thai Curries

Every great curry begins making an excellent curry paste by hand with a mortar and pestle. Although some will swear by the convenience of food processors for making curries, this is considered taboo in the Thai culinary world. More accurately, it can be outright offensive since it’s rare you’d find a food processor in a Thai kitchen to begin with.

As urbanization of Thailand spreads, many traditions of authentic Thai cuisine have been lost culturally. You’ll find processed sugar instead of cane sugar in almost every Thai household but in more recent years, there is also a growing trend in using store-bought curry pastes. While we normally wouldn’t recommend store-bought over homemade, these pastes are made fresh daily and are well worth the money if you don’t have enough time to cook.

Suggested Reading: How to Make Traditional Thai Curry Pastes 

Types of Thai Curry Dishes

  • Massaman Curry
  • Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Noodles)
  • Green Curry
  • Red Curry
  • Penang Curry
  • Yellow Curry
  • Northern Thai Burmese Pork Curry

Thai red curry

Kaeng Phet (Thai Red Curry)

Thai red curry is a popular Thai dish made from cooking red curry paste in coconut milk and adding your protein of choice (chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, tofu). The redness in kaeng phet comes from the copious amounts of dried red chilies used in the curry paste.

panang curry with spare ribs

Phanaeng (Thai Panang Curry)

Phanaeng (also spelled phanang or panang) is another type of Thai red curry dating back to 1890, featuring a salty, sweet taste and a zesty hint of kaffir lime. Most commonly served with pork, phanaeng is a creamy curry made with no liquid ingredients other than coconut milk.

📷 Photo Credit: The Local by Oam Thong Thai Cuisine

Thai yellow curry

Kaeng Kari (Thai Yellow Curry)

Don’t mistake kaeng kari for kaeng luaeng: While kaeng luaeng directly translates to “yellow curry”, kaeng kari (curry soup) is the famous dish you’re looking for!

With origins in India, Thai yellow curry is a fusion dish incorporating Indian ingredients with Thai spices. It has a powerful, vibrant taste, accompanied by carrots and potatoes to fill you up. You can commonly find yellow curry served on street-side restaurants so find a plastic stool and get ready to fill your belly.

📷 Photo Credit: Kyle Weng

kaeng hunglay (Northern Thai Burmese curry)

Kaeng Hunglay (Northern Thai Burmese Pork Curry)

Kaeng hunglay is a curried-stew from Northern Thailand with Burmese roots, typically made from pork belly or other fatty pork. Its defining trait is the use of Garam Masala, a blend of spices found in Burmese and Indian cuisine. If you’re a fan of Indian food, you’ll love this curry. It has all the rich and hearty traits of a great stew, while showcasing the sweet and sour tastes of traditional Thai cooking.

📷 Photo Credit: Thai Cookbook TV

Thai Desserts

No one ever complained about an abundance of fresh fruit! But I’ve heard plenty of complaints about Thai desserts being too sweet. Too sugary, to be exact!

best Thai desserts
📷 Photo Credit: Thai Dessert By เจ้แดงขนมไทย

How to Say “No Sugar” or “Not Sweet” in Thai

If you’re like me (a foreigner), you’ll want to tell your server mai waan, which directly translates to “not sweet”. It’s a good catch-all for ordering coffee, tea or dessert to make sure you aren’t overwhelmed by sweetness. However, some Thais will interpret mai waan as meaning “little sugar”, rather than “no sugar”. In this case, the magic phrase is mai waan loei, or “no sugar at all”.

Top 6 Most Popular Thai Desserts

  • Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)
  • Khao Niao Toorien (Durian Sticky Rice)
  • Itim Kati (Coconut Ice Cream)
  • Khanom Buang (Thai crispy pancakes)
  • Mamuang Nam Pla Wan (Green mango with sweet chili spices)
  • Khanom Ba Bin (Grilled coconut cakes)
mango sticky rice

Khao Niao Mamuang (Mango Sticky Rice)

The classic Thai dessert. You’ll find it in every nook and cranny as street food but also at Thai restaurants around the world. It’s a simple treat that is globally celebrated made from just 3 key components: ripe mangoes, high quality coconut milk and Thai sweet rice. Thai sweet rice is sometimes just called sticky rice or glutinous rice, found in most Asian food stores. Sticky rice is always made in a pot on the stove, rather than a rice cooker. The secret to a good Thai sticky rice is bringing it to a gentle boil in coconut water, coconut milk, salt and brown sugar.

fresh durian

Khao Niao Toorien (Durian Sticky Rice)

Khao niao toorien is a variation on the traditional mango sticky rice, substituting mango for fresh durian. Durian, dubbed the “king of fruits”, is famous for its pungent smell. The aroma of durian is so strong that the fruit is actually banned from most forms of public transportation. When someone cracks open a durian, you’ll know from a block away (literally).

Thai coconut ice cream

Itim Kati (Coconut Ice Cream)

You haven’t eaten in Thailand if you haven’t capped off a nice meal with coconut ice cream!

It’s a simple non-dairy ice cream made almost entirely from fresh coconut! Authentic Thai coconut ice cream uses the water from the coconut, organic coconut sugar instead of regular sugar and just a little bit of salt. Be on the lookout for regional variations – it isn’t uncommon to find coconut ice cream topped with fresh mango chunks and chopped peanuts.

📷 Photo Credit: You Know You’ve Lived In Thailand when…..

crispy Thai pancakes

Khanom Buang (Thai crispy pancakes)

Khanon buang is a traditional Thai dessert passed down generation to generation. Dating back roughly 600 years ago, the Thai crispy pancake is a street food that requires precise preparation. It consists of a thin, crispy crepe made from rice flour and is topped with candied duck egg yolk.

📷 Photo Credit: Trương Thị Nhớ

green mango with chilies dip

Mamuang Nam Pla Waan (Green mango with sweet chili spices)

Nam pla waan is a Thai fruit dip that turns any sour fruit into an exciting opportunity to drench them in sweet, salty fish sauce. Is fish sauce and fruit a combination I ever expected to recommend? Absolutely not. But it tastes amazing and after a first taste, you’ll drop your suspicions quickly! The sauce is made with palm sugar, fish sauce, shrimp paste, Thai chilies and shallots. The dip is most commonly served with green mango, but underripe pineapple and green apple will make their way to your plate sometimes too.

📷 Photo Credit: We ❤ Non Veg Recipes Facebook Group

grilled coconut cakes

Khanom Ba Bin (Grilled coconut cakes)

Thai coconut pancakes are a staple street food, cooked on a hot griddle. Khanon ba bin is a gluten free dessert that is found almost everywhere in Thailand.

📷 Photo Credit: dmAsia

Coffee from Thailand

Thai café culture has grown rapidly in the past decade. The heat of coffee in Thailand is Chiang Mai, home to internationally acclaimed baristas that have won global competitions. Although Chiang Mai is known as the capital of coffee in Thailand, Bangkok is no slouch either. With a seemingly endless amount of new coffee shops popping up in Bangkok and their widespread availability through GrabFood and FoodPanda, Bangkok is in an exciting era that should be appreciated in full. Although Thai coffee doesn’t pack the same punch as Vietnamese coffee, it makes up for it with rich flavour.

Ristr8o in Chiang Mai is possibly the most internationally famous of all Thai cafés, known around the world as being home of the World Champion Latte. That said, it’s not my favourite – that title belongs to Roastniyom, which is a more locally famous attraction. Whenever I visit Chiang Mai, I take a cab straight from the airport to Roastniyom for their cold brew and croissants!

coffee in Thailand
📷 Photo Credit: Fuel Coffee Bar

6 Best Cafés in Bangkok

Adopo Cafe in Yan Nawa, Bangkok

6 Best Cafés in Chiang Mai

  • Roastniyom Coffee
  • Ristr8o Lab
  • Graph Coffee
  • Taste Café
  • Akha Ama La Fattoria
  • Yesterday Café
best cafe in Chiang Mai
📷 Photo Credit: Chukiat Vasaruchapong
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Thai Curries 101: How to Make Traditional Thai Curry Pastes

how to make traditional Thai curries

Learn How to Make Traditional Thai Curries

Thai curries are as complex and regionally varied as the many cultures that call Thailand home. 

From the southern Malay flavors of Massaman, to the famous Khao Soy of the northern borders, Thai curry pastes are the base on which all other ingredients build to create the perfect sweet, salty, sour and spicy balance the food of Thailand is known for.

If you’re a lover of Thai food or are wanting to relive your travels through South East Asia through food, you need to know how to make your own traditional Thai curry pastes. 

I was once told at a Thai cooking class in Chiang Mai the only way to “find a good husband” was to be efficient with a mortar and pestle. Alas, curry pastes are a labour of love. Creating the perfect paste will take a bit of elbow grease but your efforts will be rewarded once you taste the final product.

making authentic Thai curry
Take me back to the tastes of Thailand!

Essential Thai Ingredients

If you’ve never heard of or tasted the ingredients you will need to make curry pastes at home, the list can be intimidating. We’ve included a short glossary of lesser-known ingredients and substitutions for ingredients that may be more difficult to find in the Western world. With the exception of a few very specific ingredients, it is possible to find most required ingredients at your local Asian import market

Northern Thailand fresh produce market
I could walk through these Northern Thai markets for hours…

Sweet Basil (Bai horapa) – The most commonly used basil in Thai cuisine. Has darker leaves than others with purple tinged leaves, also has a sweet licorice flavor. It is okay to substitute Italian basil if sweet thai basil isn’t available.

Holy Basil (Bai mang rak) – Often used in Thai fish dishes, holy basil has a peppery taste that is released when cooking.

Green Cardamom (Luk grawan) – The most common type are straw-coloured pods containing 8-10 tiny black seeds. It’s sweet and floral with hints of citrus. A favorite in sweet dishes, teas, diary treats and green curries.

Black Cardamom (Luk krawan) – Large firm black-brown pods. Black cardamom  is strong and smokey with an almost minty finish good for curries and stew. Black and green cardamom are not interchangeable. However, in savory dishes omission is worse than substitution. 

Coconut Cream (Nam maprow) – Typically the first squeeze of a mature coconut, it’s richer and much thicker than coconut milk. Water can be added to coconut cream to substitute coconut milk. Add 2tbsp coconut cream to ¾ cup water for coconut milk.

Coriander (Pak chee) – Cilantro in the West, Thais might use more coriander than any other cuisine. The roots of coriander are often used in creating curry pastes. 

Fish Sauce (Nam pla) – Thai cuisine would not exist without this distinctive flavor. Used similarly to soy sauce in Chinese cooking. Made with fermented fish or shrimp it has a salty tang and is lessy “fishy” and more umami than you’d think. Do not omit from recipes unless there are allergies. In which case tamari or soy can be used (I guess).

Galangal (Kha) – Thai ginger is a larger and lighter version of traditional ginger, and is used in almost every curry paste and thai soup. The softer, more vegetal flavor of galangal makes it hard to substitute with regular ginger.

Ginger (King) – In Thai food ginger is used mainly young and fresh, and added to dishes last.

Thai ginseng (Kra chai) – Adds an earthy, woody, sweet (barley?) taste that helps balance complex curries.

Kaffir lime (Makrut) – The leaves, the rind and wrinkly little lime fruit are all used for flavoring Thai curry dishes. There is no substitute for kaffir lime leaves, however you can get away with substituting the juice and peel of regular limes.

Lemongrass (Bai takrai) – This long leek-looking grass is a staple in South East Asian cuisine; there are no true substitutes for its intensely lemony flavor, but lemon zest and a small amount of juice could do in a pinch.

Turmeric (Kamin) – Rich and pungent, this cousin to ginger will stain everything so beware. It’s a bit sweet, a bit bitter – tastes like yellow-orange. As a rule of thumb, you can substitute fresh turmeric for half dried. 

Palm Sugar (Naam taan peep) – Made from the sap of coconut palms or the sugar palm tree, palm sugar is less sweet than cane sugar. You can substitute one for the other, although the flavor won’t be compromised much but the texture of your curry may be altered. We don’t recommend it.

Peppercorns (Prik thai) – While black peppercorns are most commonly used in Thai cooking, fresh green peppercorns are used for green curry and in sauces and salads. Green peppercorns can be difficult to find in the west, but are worth the search if you can find them at an Asian market in your city. There is no substitution. 

Tamarind Concentrate (Makaam) – Is it sweet? Is it sour? It’s tamarind. It can only depend on what this unique ingredient is mixed with. Often a vital ingredient balancing thai noodle dishes but is also used in northern-style curries.

Star Anise (Poy kak bua) – A dried, star shaped spice with a pungent licorice or aniseed flavor.

Methods for Making Thai Chili Paste at Home

mortar and pestle grinding spices
Mortar and pestle for the win!

Mortar and Pestle vs Food Processor

You would likely never see a food processor being used to blend curries in a Thai household. While you can use a food processor to combine curries into a paste, it isn’t recommended.

Food processors quickly macerate all ingredients into a single homogeneous blend. Not only will this alter the texture of your final product, it will change the flavor. 

A mortar, pestle and a bit of patience will ensure all the flavors in your mixture are being broken and blended slowly, releasing all the spicey nuances of your favorite curry mixture. 

Toasting Spices, Nuts and Seeds for Curry Paste 

DO NOT skip this step. Toasting dry spices before adding them to curry pastes helps the oils inside spices release more of their aromatic properties. This helps flavors to blend and develop into a deeper, more complex flavor.

Heat a heavy skillet over medium-high and add dry spice ingredients. Stir until spices are a shade or two darker and are very fragrant. Be careful not to burn spices.

To toast nuts and seeds, spread over a baking sheet and place in a 350 degree oven for 5-10 minutes or until golden. 

Rehydrating Dried Chillies and Spices

In the case of dried chillies, often you will need to rehydrate them. This method allows them to blend more evenly into the curry pastes. I like to use the same method to wake up dried or frozen kaffir lime leaves or remove tough outer pods from black cardamom. Place the ingredients in a small heat safe bowl and cover with boiling water and wait 10 minutes. 

Traditional Thai Curry Paste Recipes 

Most Thai curry pastes have similar starting points in terms of ingredients. The variations are often very slight but change the flavor profile entirely. Red curry shares the majority of its ingredients with most other pastes. The mother of Thai curry paste is used to build almost all  other regional variations. Here’s our list of our favorite curry pastes. 

Once you have measured your ingredients and toasted your dry spices,add them to your mortar and pestle then start smashing! You’re only about 15 minutes away from a traditionally prepared Thai curry paste, enjoy!

Recipe to Roam Tip: Use a tea towel draped over the mortar while smashing to protect your eyes from being assaulted by fiery, freaking hot chilli juice splatter.

chicken khao soi recipe
The perfect curry, and our favorite, Khao Soy.

Red Curry Paste

10 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and rehydrated) 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

1 tbsp chopped lemongrass 

1 tbsp Thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

Green Curry Paste

10 fresh green chillies 

1 tbsp green peppercorns (optional) 

2 stalks of sweet basil 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

2 tbsp chopped lemongrass 

1 tbsp Thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

Yellow Curry Paste

10 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and boiled) 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

2 tbsp chopped galangal 

1 tbsp chopped lemongrass 

1 tbsp Thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp 

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds 

¼ dry white pepper corn 

1 tsp curry powder 

1-2 tbsp turmeric 

Panang Curry Paste 

10 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and rehydrated) 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

1 tbsp chopped lemongrass

1 tbsp Thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp 

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

2 tbsp roasted peanuts 

½  tsp coriander seeds 

¼  dry white pepper corn 

1 tsp curry powder 

1 tbsp turmeric 

Jungle Curry Paste

10 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and boiled) 

3-5 fresh red chili

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

3 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

2 tbsp chopped lemongrass

1 tbsp thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp 

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

Massaman Curry Paste (Nam Prik Gaeng Mussaman)

5 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and rehydrated) 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

1 tbsp chopped lemongrass 

1 tbsp Thai ginseng

½ tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp 

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root 

1 tbsp turmeric

½ tsp coriander 

½ cumin seeds 

½  tsp dry peppercorn 

½ tbsp curry powder 

1 tsp cinnamon 

1 tsp black cardamom 

1 tbsp cloves 

2 star anise pods

Khao Soy Curry Paste 

10 chillies red dried big chillies (chopped and boiled) 

3 tbsp chopped shallots 

2 tbsp minced garlic 

1 tbsp chopped galangal 

1 tbsp chopped lemongrass 

1 tbsp thai ginseng

1 tbsp shrimp paste or sub salt ¼ tsp 

1 tbsp chopped kaffir lime peel 

1 tbsp fresh coriander root ½ tsp coriander seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds 

¼ dry white peppercorn 

1 tbsp curry powder 

1 tbsp black cardamom 

1-2 tbsp fresh turmeric or ½ tsp dried 

How long does curry paste last?

Basic curry pastes can be stored in a covered glass jar in a refrigerator for 1 month, or frozen for up to 4 months. Curry recipes make enough paste for most recipes serving 3-4. Enjoy!

Did this get you hungry? Add our Thai curry pastes to your personal cookbook and check out more of our Thai recipes for a true taste of Thailand.

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The Best Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery During Quarantine

restaurants in Bangkok with delivery

The Top 9 Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery

Don’t let the quarantine stop you from eating from the best restaurants in Bangkok!

Although the coronavirus outbreak has slowed Bangkok (and the rest of the world!) to a standstill, that doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice everything we love. In this article, we’ll be covering 10 incredible restaurants in Bangkok with delivery to your front door during the quarantine period. You can order some amazing grub and enjoy the best cooking that Bangkok has to offer from the comfort and safety of your own home (or hotel).

There are a number of food delivery services available in Bangkok (and the rest of Thailand), so be sure to check if delivery to your area of the city is available. For example, I had to struggle without being able to order from Fatty’s for a long time, but now they’re available in the Sathorn area! Hopefully you can satisfy your cravings! If all else fails, try contacting their Facebook Pages or just give them a call. People are quite accommodating during this time of crisis!

Food Delivery Apps in Thailand You Should Download

While there are a handful of smaller food delivery apps available in Thailand, these are the main ones that you’ll end up using. Some of the restaurants in this blog have only recently introduced delivery options (because of quarantine), so to our knowledge, they’re only available on the staple food delivery apps. Each are available on both iPhone and Android, but FoodPanda also allows you to order food directly off their website as well.

If you have Grab (the ride sharing app) or LINE (the instant messenger) already installed, there’s no need to download anything. Food delivery is built right in!

With that out of the way, let’s hop right into the top restaurants in Bangkok with delivery during Thailand’s state of emergency. Don’t bother ordering from McDonald’s or Pizza Hut while you’re cooped up at home. Let’s support local businesses and get through this together!

Fatty’s Bar & Diner

We are unapologetically biased in pushing Fatty’s to the top of the list. Fatty’s is a Midwest-style pub with some of the most tasty, greasy food in Bangkok. To put it simply: their cheese is to die for! Mozzarella sticks, deep-fried cheese curds – even proper Canadian poutine is on the menu!

But what makes Fatty’s hit home runs during quarantine is their beer delivery. Imports and local beer are all available for delivery, and at a 15% discount. Keep in mind that if you want to order beer, it can only be done over the phone. Give them a call and they’ll sort you out.

Click here for a list of Fatty’s beer selection and delivery prices.

Daniel Thaiger

Legendary, award-winning burgers. The secret ingredient is the Thaiger sauce…and the high quality beef. And the…well, to put a long story short: these are gourmet burgers that you can get delivered to your self-isolated chambers. Daniel Thaiger keeps it simple by perfecting how much flavor you can achieve with basic ingredients and some TLC. It started as a food truck but has become so much more.

Gallery Pizza

Any 2 pizzas for 499 baht! That’s not a new promotion or anything, that’s kind of what Gallery Pizza is known for. These aren’t personal pan-sized pizzas like you may find on the oddball pizza joint on GrabFood. These aren’t limited to basic toppings. You get full access to Gallery’s pizza menu for this deal that I order more often than I’d like to admit. My favorite is the white garlic chicken and the newest addition to the menu: the PBR. It’s got a nice balsamic glaze that hasn’t been topped at any other pizza joint in Bangkok.

I’ve never actually ordered from Gallery on any food delivery apps, just over the phone and even more conveniently: via their Facebook Page. Seriously, it’s awesome. Shoot them a message with your address, phone number and your order. Then it’s time to play the waiting game. Simple.

Gallery also has beer and wine on the menu and Vanilla Coke for those with a sweet tooth out there too. I’m not a big wine drinker so I won’t pretend to know if their selection is good but I do tend to add a couple Asahi beers to my order for safe measure. Check out their menu and judge for yourself.

Pala Pizza Romana

Is that name Italian enough for you? I’d hope so, seeing as how I can’t help but read it with a thick accent in my head every time I see it.

Some people swear by Pala as the best pizza in Bangkok and frankly, it would be hard to make an argument against that. At the end of the day, it comes down to personal preference really. Pala’s got super nice dough, with a pinch of salt and a stretchy base. If you have the pleasure of dining in after the quarantine is over, you’ll see that it’s truly a work of art.

Charoensuk Beef Noodle

In a city known for its street food and a countless number of noodle shops, Charoensuk Beef Noodle stands out as a culinary marvel of Bangkok. Just how good can a simple bowl of beef noodles get? Well, Charoensuk has been in business for over 70 years now, so make an order and let your taste buds do the talking.

Tacos & Salsa Mexican Bar and Restaurant

What would a comfort food cheat sheet be without some Mexican food? Sure, Taco Bell is nice when you want that American-style grease but nothing beats the real deal. Tacos & Salsa has been a personal favorite of ours for years and it’s often the place the Bodega crew gathers when no one can make up their mind on where to eat. That problem may have been daunting, but now that we’re stuck at home it doesn’t seem so bad. 

If you live close enough to Tacos & Salsa, they’ll offer free delivery. Your best bet is to message them on Facebook or give them a call to find out. You won’t get that deal on any food delivery app.

Click here to check out Tacos & Salsa’s delivery menu.

Vegan Restaurants in Bangkok with Delivery

Vegans in Bangkok aren’t out of luck but I wish I had more information to share with you about these restaurants. These recommendations come from active members of the Bangkok Informed Facebook Group, so I trust their judgement but can’t personally endorse them. If you can speak to the quality of these restaurants, let us know in the comments!

Food Delivery in Bangkok: What did we miss?

Did we miss some of your favorites? There’s bound to be plenty of restaurants offering quarantine discounts and deals. We’d love to hear from fellow Bangkok expats and expand this list as we discover new delivery options.

Please email me if you want your restaurant featured or if you had insight on a deal we need to share: chris@bodegahostelgroup.com.


This blog was originally published March 29, 2020 on BodegaHostels.com.

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Vietnam Cafe Culture: How to Make Vietnamese Coffee

how to make Vietnamese coffee

How to Make Authentic Vietnamese Coffee at Home

Saigon is the Heart of Vietnam’s cafe culture. Vietnamese coffee in bustling Saigon is a delight, brewed in history and undoubtedly worth travelling to taste. With many hipster-cool, Instagram worthy and cafe-bar hybrids popping up in Saigon, it’s become a favored daily habit for locals and travellers alike. Personally, we couldn’t get enough of Ho Chi Minh City and crave it often. 2 Vietnamese restaurants even made our top 10 Nanaimo restaurants list!

Saigon café culture really has something for everyone, and it’s easy to stumble upon greatness. For students or expats looking for a jittery jolt of caffeine to get them through the day, we love Things Café in rustic Ton That Dam Apartment Block. For anyone in the expat-heavy District 3, we recommend I.D. Café. Relax with lunch then recharge with an iced coffee on their garden patio.

What makes coffee from Vietnam so different, you ask? Well, Vietnamese coffee is STRONG and can often be too bitter without the addition of sweetened condensed milk, but more on that later.

coffee pouring in Things Cafe, Saigon
📷 Photo Credit: Things Cafe Facebook Page

What is Vietnamese coffee? 

To understand what makes Vietnamese coffee unique from other caffeinated drinks you’ve tried, let’s take a second to understand Vietnam. History, geography, culture, climate and conquest have all had a hand in shaping Vietnamese coffee into what we rave about today. Here’s the buzz behind the rich history.

2 types of coffee beans

The 2 Types of Coffee Beans: Robusta and Arabica

The Bean; Arabica vs Robusta. There are two types of coffee beans, each with their own unique flavor profile. European pallets have long preferred the softer, less acrid, often South American grown tones of the Arabica bean. For most of the world, Arabica coffee is what we consume daily. Robusta coffee beans are bitter, less acidic and have nearly double the amount of caffeine and antioxidants. In addition to having more of the stimulating properties than the arabica bean, robusta beans are easier to cultivate. The Robusta plant is as strong as the caffeine punch it packs. Producing a higher yield and being less susceptible to pests and disease, the plant also prefers the lower elevations and humid air of Vietnam’s central highlands. It’s no wonder why Vietnam’s state-owned plantations are the world’s largest producer of robusta beans. 

The Method; During the French Colonization of Vietnam, French dignitaries with a penchant for the caffeinated comforts of home introduced coffee roasting and preparation techniques from western europe. The result was a parisian-style dark roasted bean, ground medium then passed through a pour-over/percolator hybrid filter. This small metal filter later became known as a “phin”.

The “Milk”; Vietnam was not a dairy-consuming culture until the 90’s, when dairy farming gained popularity. Not having access to fresh dairy or proper refrigeration to keep it from spoiling created a need for variations to the cream and sugar that most coffee connoisseurs aren’t accustomed too. The most popular preparation is made with sweetened condensed milk, while others are more adventurous.

Vietnamese phin coffee filter

How to Order Coffee in Vietnamese

Ordering coffee in another language can be a struggle, especially if it’s your first cup of the day. Here is our fail safe guide to ordering your perfect cup of Vietnamese Coffee along with a few regional variations for you to try. 

CA PHE – “Ca phe”means “coffee” and is pronounced similarly. Begin with “ca phe” and follow with your favorite variation. ie: Ca Phe Sua Dong…Simple, right ? 

  • SUA DONG – iced coffee with sweetened condensed milk. 
  • SUA NONG – Coffee with sweetened condensed milk, hot. 
  • DEN DA – Black with sugar and ice. 
  • DEN NONG – Black with sugar. 
  • DEN DA KHONG DONG – Strong, Black with ice. 
  • DEN NONG KHONG DONG – Strong, Black hot coffee. 
  • TRUNG – “Egg Coffee” Sua Nong with meringue, rich, sweet and decadent.
  • SUA CHUA – Replaces milk with yogurt, adding a pleasant sweet sour edge.
  • DUA – Creamy Coconut smoothie with a shot of coffee. YUM. 

Which Vietnamese coffee are you most excited to try next ?

How to Make Vietnamese Coffee at Home

If you’re not in Saigon and you’re craving the distinct kick of Vietnamese Coffee, here’s how we make it at home. This is what you’ll need:

1. Prepare your Coffee, Cup and Filter 

Longevity Brand condensed milk

Measure your desired amount of coffee and distribute it evenly into your phin filter, take the lid from the phin and place it face up underneath the coffee and filter. Use a small amount of hot water to very carefully just wet the coffee grounds.

This process is called the “bloom” and helps the flavors of the coffee be released from the bean develop into a more chocolatey complex cup. Let bloom for 3-5 minutes while you prepare your cup.

Measure 2-4 tablespoons of sweetened condensed milk into a heat-proof glass or cup depending on your desired sweetness level.

Next, get your phin and coffee. Remove the lid from under the bloomed coffee. If there are any dips from the lid, you can add them to the sweetened condensed milk before placing the filter on top of your cup. 

2. The POUR! 

making vietnamese coffee at home

Slowly pour hot water over the coffee grounds. Fill the filter ⅔ the way up the filter. Place the lid on top of the filter and let the water work its magic.

Wait 4-5 minutes and most of the water should have filtered through.

Resist the urge to tap or shake the filter. Forcing coffee through the filter will clog it and weaken the flavor of your coffee. 

3. Stir and ENJOY!

homemade Vietnamese coffee

Once the water has passed through the coffee filter, remove the filter and slowly stir the coffee into the sweetened condensed milk.

If you wish to enjoy this drink cold, pour over ice and enjoy the intensely strong and sweet flavor of Vietnam coffee culture. 


If you haven’t tried Vietnamese coffee, be prepared for a caffeine kick in the pants like no other. Vietnamese coffee is unlike any other coffee in the world. Its unique flavor, complexity and silky texture make it one of our favorites. Drink up!

Vietnamese iced coffee

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The 10 Best Restaurants in Nanaimo (2021)

best restaurants in Nanaimo

Recipe to Roam’s Top 10 Restaurants in Nanaimo

Located centrally on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo is a diverse community that brings flavors of the world to the plate. That said, my favorite places to eat in Nanaimo cover a diverse palate from Paris to Tokyo.

Top 10 Restaurants in Nanaimo

  • Milton Street Public House
  • Bistro Tayio
  • Jalapenos
  • Pho V TA
  • Sealand Pho
  • Trattoria La Stella
  • Astera’s Greek Taverna
  • Mon Petit Choux
  • Burnt Honey

Article last updated on February 4th, 2021 – Minor typos fixed!

1. Milton Street Public House

On Milton Street in Nanaimo’s Old City Quarter, this Public House has a charming English feel without being dusty or over-the-top kitsch. Its consistently cool, laid back vibe can make it a bit of a sleeper in the food department. Who doesn’t like surprises? The refined menu is stacked full of classic, thoughtfully composed dishes I crave and keep returning for. They also have prosecco on tap…need I say more?

My Order: Spicy Calamari, Fungi Flatbread(seasonal), cannelloni, a Kir Royal and the posset dessert.

Address: 247 Milton St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2K5

Contact: (250) 591-1090

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:30am-9pm, CLOSED MONDAYS

2. Bistro Tayio

To my knowledge, Bistro Tayio is the only Japanese chef-owned sushi bar and izakaya in the central island region. That’s enough to make Bistro Tayio my go-to whenever I’m craving the real deal and missing Tokyo. While their sushi is hands-down the best in town, fresh and expert level 100, I’ll admit I go for their ramen. At one point, I was ordering 2-3 times a week. Obsessed. Staff are always amazing, perfectly accommodating and they deliver! Arigato arigato gozaimasu, Bistro Tayio!

My Order: Spicy Tantanmen Ramen, add Egg.

Address: 321 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2T5

Contact: (250) 716-8861

Hours of Operation: Mon/Fri 10am-10pm, Sat 2pm-10pm, CLOSED SUNDAY

3. Jalapenos

Mexican restaurant in Nanaimo

Located directly across from Vancouver Island University, wedged between a gas station and a laneway. You might miss it. Don’t. This Mexican owned and operated eatery is uncomplicated and about as “authentic Tex-Mex” as it gets without being extra (ie: nacho cheese). Everything from the kitchen is simple, affordable and exactly what you need. Although there are no bells, whistles or liquor licence, Jalapenos satisfies every time. They have 3 house made hot sauces to choose and pre covid-19, they did a taco buffet on Sundays. Damn…

Address: 450-B Wakesiah Ave, Nanaimo, BC V9R 3K9

Contact: (778) 441-4020

Hours of Operation: Daily 11am – 7:30pm CLOSED MONDAYS

4. Pho V TA Vietnamese Restaurant

Pho V Ta, Nanaimo, BC

The first and most authentic of my two favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the Nanaimo. Pho V Ta isn’t fancy. However, its cafeteria style dining room with “eclectic” decor does remind me of  Vietnam. Yes, the Pho broth is the best in Nanaimo but that’s not why I keep going back. It’s always Bun bo hue. Pho’s lemony, richly layered, spicy cousin is a regionally specific bowl of slurpy noodles that can be tricky to find on the island. Pho V Ta’s BBH is perfectly balanced and spiced. This dish is traditionally prepared with a fatter, round noodle, pigs’ blood and a variety of other processed “meat”. If that’s too authentic for you, you can sub Pho noodles and rare beef or brisket as I do.

My Order: Bun Bo Hue sub Pho noodle and rare beef, Vietnamese crepe (only available weekends) or the Mi Xao “chow mein special”

Address: 1-1601 Bowen Rd Nanaimo, BC V9S1G6

Contact: 250-591-1746

Hours of Operation: Mon/Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 11am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm  

5. Sealand Pho

SeaLand Pho dining room

New to the scene is the best Vietnamese restaurant in Nanaimo, Sealand Pho. Overlooking Nanaimo Yacht club, Sealand Pho is one of the shockingly few waterfront eateries in Nanaimo. Arguably the best Banh Mi I’ve ever tasted, their Vietnamese sub overshadows any bowl of Pho I’ve had in the western hemisphere. Its perfectly crispy, chewy baguette comes in 5 delicious combinations including a kimchi tofu option for veggies and a pate to die for. With floor to ceiling windows letting natural light flood the dining room, it’s hard to believe this space has seen so many kitchens come and go. In warmer months, Sealand Pho secretly has one of the best patios in the city.

My Order: Lemongrass Grilled Chicken Banh Mi, Special Vermicelli.

Address: 101-1240 Stewart Ave, Nanaimo, BC V9S 4C9

Contact: (250) 591-6688

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:00am – 8:00pm CLOSED MONDAY

6. Manvirros Indian Grill

Mavirro's butter chicken

Alright Manvirros, you straight up owe me two raitas and an order of chutneys. I’ll admit I’ve only ordered Mavirros from SkipTheDishes, minding our social distancing and all. My last three orders have been missing items! I called the restaurant to let them know, they were salty about it and suggested I just come pick up the forgotten items. Is it just me or does that defeat the purpose of paying a delivery fee? Anyway, I’m still happy to have them in the top ten, after all it’s about the food, and Manvirros is killin’ it. The portions are huge, food is always fresh and the curries are deliciously complex. Don’t skip the raita – even if you have to pick it up yourself!

My Order: 2x Raita, 2x Garlic naan, Samosa Chaat, Paneer Pasanda, Lamb Rogan Josh, Jerra Rice. Side Butter Chicken Sauce. Nice. 

Address: 1045B Terminal Avenue, Nanaimo, BC, V9S4K3

Contact: (250) 591-0558

Hours of Operation: Daily 11:00am-2:30pm  4:00pm-10:00pm 

7. La Stella Trattoria

best pizza in Nanaimo

Nanaimo’s first wood fired pizza oven at Trattoria la stella does not disappoint. Neapolitan style crusts, hand stretched in front of you and topped with delicious combinations of locally sourced ingredients. With fresh made pasta and beef carpaccio (if it takes another turn on the menu), you can’t really go wrong here. The experienced service staff make Trattoria perfect for a first date or anniversary. In summer months, I like to take advantage of the take out menu then hit up the waterfront for a sneaky bottle of wine and pizza picnic.

My Order: Brussel Sprouts, Prosciutto, Funghi Pizza.

Address: 321 Wesley St #1, Nanaimo, BC V9R 2T5

Contact: (778) 441-4668

Hours of Operation: Wed/Thurs 5pm-9pm, Fri/Sat/Sun 4pm-9pm

8. Astera’s Greek Taverna 

Astera's Greek Restaurant - wine

A favorite of many locals, Astera’s is a popular choice whenever there is something to be celebrated. There’s always a buzz – whether it’s the music or the free flowing sambuca shots served enthusiastically by the host. You get the best of Greek hospitality. The 100 year old heritage home is nestled in the heart of the Old City quarter and still has many charming features of the era. Pre-pandemic, it could get pretty cozy. My advice: Make a reservation in the sunroom a few days in advance. 

My Order: Roast Lamb, Moussaka, Seafood Mezethes. Wine in high quantities.   

Address:  347 Wesley St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 3A7

Contact: (250) 716-0451

Hours of Operation: 9am to 5pm Daily

9. Mon Petit Choux Bakery

best bakery in Nanaimo, Mon Petit Choux

Mon Petit Choux is the best restaurant downtown Nanaimo. It’s a cafe, but not a paper cup cafe. This cafe offers a breakfast / lunch menu that showcases their bakery’s freshly baked breads and pastries. The casual european feel invites you to stay a little longer and to enjoy the organic, locally-sourced food, read a book, catch up on some emails or order another croissant. 

My Order: Eggs Benedict, Tuna Niçoise. 

Address: 120 Commercial St, Nanaimo, BC V9R 5G6

Contact: (250) 753-6002

Hours of Operation: Tue/Sat 12pm-10pm, Sun 4pm-10pm CLOSED MONDAY

10. Burnt Honey Dessert Company

Burnt Honey, Nanaimo ice cream parlor

Last but certainly not least, we have the best dessert in Nanaimo! Wife and Wife team, Kara and Fiona Shedden opened one of the sweetest artisan ice cream parlours I’ve ever seen. Their commitment to sourcing ingredients from local suppliers has made for some unforgettable, carefully considered and never seen flavor profiles. Caramel Apple, Almond Brittle Salted Ganache, Carrot Cake, Basil Lemonade, Strawberry Rose Sorbet to name a few. They also offer their unique versions of a few classics like TigerTiger, MintChoco and Cookie and Milk. For anyone with dietary preferences or restrictions, they also offer a few brilliant vegan options. Oh, and did I mention Burnt Honey makes all their waffle cones from scratch? If there’s fresh cones when you visit, don’t hesitate to indulge!

My Order: Anything I haven’t tried in one of their fresh waffle cones!

Address: 96-3200 N Island Hwy, Nanaimo, BC V9T 1W1

Contact: (250) 585-1446

Hours of Operation: Daily 12pm-6pm CLOSED MONDAYS

Did we miss one of your favorite restaurants in Nanaimo?

These are our personal picks for the 10 best restaurants Nanaimo has to offer, but if we missed a hidden gem or favourite of yours, let us know in the comments!

Honourable Mentions (Close to Nanaimo)

Just a short drive from the city…and worth it…

  • Roberts Street Pizza – that crust though. 
  • Maya Norte – Spanish/Mexican fusion, Marg or the rocks and empanadas.
  • Crow and Gate Pub – Beautiful English Toudor style pub and gardens.
  • Mahle House – I’m still butthurt they fired me but their food is unmatched in the area.