In the past few years, Melbourne’s Thai restaurants have expanded their offerings. Our Thai restaurants have gotten more specialised, and a spoil of once hard to find dishes now commonly appear on menus around town.

You’ll find Ayutthaya or boat noodles at Soi 38 and Thai Baan; specialties from Phuket at Pa Tong, the type of oyster pancakes often found on the streets of Bangkok at Thong Thai; and southern Thai plates like the stir-fried malindjo greens dish bai liang pad kai at Nora Thai.

At Khao, a new La Trobe Street restaurant, it’s all about curry noodle soup khao soi.

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Owner and operators Kittipod Tongchan and Surachai Kunchairattana, who are also behind adjoining Thai barbeque and hotpot spot Aunglo, say Khao’s version is most similar to the khao soi you’ll find in Chiang Mai, though the dish is also popular elsewhere throughout northern Thailand and in neighbouring Myanmar and Laos.

The soup is usually topped with chicken, egg noodles and pickled mustard greens. But at Khao, the variations feel endless, with toppings including aburi (flame-seared) salmon, Wagyu beef and fried chicken, the restaurant’s most popular add-on.

Khao soi. Photography: Liana Hardy

“We thought people wouldn’t know much about the dish, so we extended the menu to include popular noodles like pad thai, but our khao soi sets are super popular,” Tongchan tells Broadsheet.

Each set comes with essential toppings: raw red onion, mustard greens, crisp fried egg noodles, wok-tossed chilli flakes and fresh lime. And customers are encouraged to season their soup to taste.

The long dining room features an open kitchen that runs the length of the space. You can see boiling pots of khao soi broth being tended to, pans of golden-brown milk toast being flipped, and staff mixing batches of Thai milk tea. The space is punctuated by a large architectural tree that reaches towards the double-height ceiling, giving the space a light and airy feel.

Curry noodles live alongside khanom jeen nam ngiao, a northern Thai rice vermicelli soup, made with a spicy sour pork broth and topped with stir-fried pork mince and cherry tomatoes. “It's a regional speciality that’s not seen often outside Thailand,” says Tongchan.

A tight list of snacks designed to share included crisp prawn wontons, spring rolls, steamed pork tapioca balls and ma haw (a minced pork and prawn mixture served on a slice of fruit). You’ll also find pad thai and pad kra pao, which both arrive on sizzling hot plates to retain their fresh-from-the-wok ferocity.

Mango sticky rice bingsu. Photography: Liana Hardy

While noodles are the namesake, the desserts here do their best to steal the spotlight with a mix of bingsu (a shaved ice dessert) and thick slices of milk bread toast topped with house-made kaya, brûléed banana and more.

Almost everything on the expansive dessert menu is made in-house. Thai milk tea bingsu arrives at the table topped with fresh whipped cream and toasted almonds and the coconut lover’s bingsu uses every part of the coconut – milk, water and flesh.

Khao Melbourne
335 La Trobe Street, Melbourne
0403 309 888

Daily midday–3pm; 5-10pm