Really good beef noodle soup
A really good beef noodle soup (kuay-tiao neua) is not so easy to find in Bangkok. One exception is Nai Soey, a no-frills shop near Khao San Road that’s been slinging tender beef in a delicious cow’s blood broth for over 40 years.
Often transliterated as nai soi, which most Thai-language students would assume means “in the alley,” the shop was actually named after its founder, Mr Soey (nai becomes “mister” when written the longer way). Chinese heritage is evidenced by numerous faded red spirit shrines, while a sign out front in Korean script highlights the shop’s popularity among beef-loving Korean travellers.
The open-fronted dining room is a lot more spacious than your average Bangkok noodle joint. Stainless steel tables and red stools sit on a cement floor; framed photos of prominent personalities who’ve dined here are hung from the tile walls; and a few fans keep the air moving. In the front corner, a veteran noodle lady oversees a cauldron of bubbling broth and beef braising in a brass pot. Though it would blend in elsewhere in Bangkok, the old-style ambiance sticks out amid the many traveller-oriented cafes on Phra Arthit Road.
The secret to Nai Soey’s success is its nam tok (“waterfall”) broth, so called because the blood from cooking beef drips into it, apparently like a waterfall. It may not sound appealing, but the slow-simmered blood balanced by vinegar and spices gives the soup a subtly smooth taste. With four decades of experience serving only beef soup and the occasional beef salad, Nai Soey knows what they’re doing.
We ordered the 50-baht standard version with neua sot (fresh beef) and found the medium-rare blanched meat to be tender while retaining its slightly chewy texture. Fresh bean sprouts and morning glory offset the broth’s richness with a crunch. Add a scoop of dried chillies to make it spicy, or vinegar-soaked chillies for sour and spicy. We went with sen lek (thin rice noodles) but you can also choose sen yai (wide noodles) or sen mee (vermicelli-style).
If you want meat that falls apart, go for the braised beef tenderloin version for 100 baht. Extra options include beef balls (luk chin neua) and offal. Beverages include pickled plum juice (nam buai) and Chinese-style iced coffee (o-lieang) among a range of soft drinks, Thai iced tea and beer. Pots of iced chrysanthemum tea are left on each table; just ask for a two-baht glass of ice to take advantage.
Nai Soey is located in backpacker land on Phra Arthit Road, an easy walk from Khao San. From the street entrance to Phra Arthit Express Boat Pier, cross the road, walk to your right (with your back to the river) and you’ll see the shop’s red stools on the south side of the street. It’s right next to Thara House, across from the Buddhist Association of Thailand and just east of Soi Chana Songkhram, which links to Soi Rambutri on the way to Khao San.
We first heard about Nai Soey from this post on Bangkok Glutton.
David Luekens first came to Thailand in 2005 when Thai friends from his former home of Burlington, Vermont led him on a life-changing trip. Based in Thailand since 2011, he spends much of his time eating in Bangkok street markets and island hopping the Andaman Sea.
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