I was in heaven when we visited Sukhothai, Thailand for the first time. It’s no secret that I enjoy good food. You know, the stuff that makes you makes you gasp “oh” out loud as it touches your lips. The great thing about traveling is that you can sample so many different flavors and textures from around the world – things that you never thought could possibly go together.
While not all dishes make the cut (and some are downright nasty) — others stay in your mind forever. It may sound silly to some, but the dish that really did it for me on our last visit to Sukhothai Thailand was the Sukhothai Noodles.
Sukhothai Thailand – One of the Best Places You’ve Probably Never Heard Of
We’ve been fortunate to travel at length through Thailand a few times, and even live for a short while in Chiang Mai (as most all digital nomads have). And as we departed Chiang Mai for the last time, we headed south to a place we had barely heard of called Sukhothai.
To say that we were pleasantly surprised with our visit to Sukhothai is an understatement. We loved it there. It is a shame that so many people who plan a trip to Thailand pass it by…if they’ve even heard of it! Most of them opt for the more touristy, and less exciting Ayutthaya – since it is easier to access from Bangkok.
How Old is Sukhothai? Older Than Angkor Wat!
Sukhothai is home to an ancient city, one of the oldest kingdoms in Thailand – even older than Angkor Wat! And better yet, there are practically no crowds here! With more temples than you can count scattered across a large area, most visitors rent bicycles or motorbikes to explore it.
And while we had a blast riding around, and explore temples (some of which we were the only people there!) — we also discovered a simple, and incredibly tasty dish; Sukhothai Noodles.
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Sukhothai Noodles Are Best Had In their Namesake Town
When doing my research ahead of our trip to Sukhothai, I stumbled across a couple people who mentioned that this was a must try dish in the area. I had never seen Sukhothai Noodles anywhere else before in Thailand. Perhaps I never looked before, or it is called something different. Still, I had a feeling they were called Sukhothai Noodles for a reason. So at dinner our first night, I specifically looked for a restaurant that had it on the menu. And so my obsession began…
From the moment this simple dish touched my mouth, I just couldn’t get enough of it! I inhaled my first meal, and considered ordering another (although I didn’t). It was incredible. Perfectly cooked, thin noodles (I believe rice noodles?) in a bowl, surrounded by a light yet flavorful broth with just a hint of sweetness. Then it’s topped with a few bits of sliced pork, spring onions, garlic and cilantro.
Of course, I also added just a few sprinkles of dried chili pepper to give it a kick — and it was one of the most fabulous things I had tasted in Thailand. And that’s really saying something, since I’ve been obsessed with authentic Pad Thai from Thailand ever since our first visit…but now, it’s ALL about the Sukhothai Noodles!
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It Was an All Out Binge on Sukhothai Noodles!
Lookout, because a monster was created. After that first dish, I craved Sukhothai Noodles for every meal. In all the places I’ve traveled, even when I like a dish, I never go all out on a binge like this. While I didn’t eat Sukhothai Noodles for breakfast (because we had an incredible breakfast at our hotel…but that’s another story!)…I did manage to eat this dish for lunch and dinner everyday of 3 day visit.
Yeah, no shame. I admit it (ok, maybe a little shame).
I just couldn’t stop myself. I wanted to try it at every restaurant. Each restaurant did the noodles ever slightly different. Some places you could choose different meats, like chicken or even a light BBQ pork, other places included a few beans, bean sprouts, cabbage, and sometimes a few crushed peanuts. At one place I swear I could taste just a subtle hint of lime too.
But that’s the thing, every bowl of Sukhothai Noodles I had during those 3 days tasted just a little bit different. Some were sweeter than others, some were a little more spicy. Others were richer with a flavor of peanuts while others were quite light and fresh tasting.
I concluded that the key to good Sukhothai Noodles must be in that broth! It’s like the secret ingredient, and the thing that makes them different from restaurant to restaurant.
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Why Was I Obsessed With Sukhothai Noodles?
I just couldn’t get over the savory flavor, with the kick of spice and peanut – it was a great combination. Even being hot outside, I didn’t want ice cream…I was craving this hot soup! Some places did offer a dry version. Josh got it one day, but he immediately regretted it — because it’s the broth that makes it.
But what really got me was the texture. You have the broth, which is awesome and fills your mouth with instant flavor. Then the soft and smooth texture of the noodles. Then there are the fresh veggies crisping, and peanuts crunching…and then there’s the meat.
Depending on the kind you get, the meat texture could vary. My favorite was the roasted red pork, which I think had a bit of a unique taste to it. Occasionally there were a couple little pork rinds in there, and even some crispy wonton-type things — which were a wonderful addition of crunch!
…And Now I’m Ruined!
Our time in Sukhothai was short, but memorable for more than just the food. We absolutely loved the relaxed atmosphere of this place, and being able to kick back and explore. But those Sukhothai Noodles are also a memory that will stay with me long after my visit.
The sad part about finding something so incredible on the road is that you know you may never be able to taste it like that again. You can try your best to replicate it at home, you can search for authentic restaurants…hell, you may even travel back to the destination.
But food, as with other things in life, are fleeting. You can search high and low, only to discover that there is nowhere else on Earth where you can find anything that will live up to that first experience. And that’s why we travel. To experience something so special that it becomes part of your soul. You will take it with you forever, knowing that you are fortunate for your experience.
And while some people will say it’s just food, my response is that you must not have had anything quite so remarkable as to think otherwise. For that, I feel incredibly fortunate.
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