Thailand's Prayut hails khao soi after it's named world's best soup

A bowl of khao soi, a Thai curry noodle dish.
PHOTO: South China Morning Post

Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha on Tuesday (Aug 16) said Thailand will capitalise on the growing popularity of its cuisine to boost the country's soft power on the global stage after a local dish topped the list of 50 best soups in the world.

"It's good news that Thai food is becoming so well known among foreigners," Prayuth said as he enjoyed a bowl of the traditional northern dish of khao soi at a government-run food exhibition in Bangkok.

Khao soi - a coconut milk-based fare that also includes meat, egg noodles, fresh lime, pickled cabbage, shallots and chillies - was named the best soup in the world by TasteAtlas, a digital platform chronicling local food and authentic restaurants.

The broth is believed to have been brought to northern Thailand by Chinese Muslim traders from Yunnan during the 19th and 20th centuries.

TasteAtlas called khao soi a "delicious coconut soup in which numerous regional influences were combined to create a truly spectacular dish". Thailand's tom yum kung and tom kha gai soups were also featured in the list.

The deeply unpopular Prayuth, who took power after a 2014 coup, said khao soi was now part of Thailand's soft power push to boost the economy and called on the digital economy and society ministry to elevate the status of local food by roping in social media influencers.

In April, Thailand launched the "5 Fs soft power" policy that aims to promote food, films, fashion, fighting (Muay Thai boxing) and festivals overseas.

Earlier this year, Prayuth also lauded Thai rapper and government critic Danupa "Milli" Kanateerakul for popularising mango sticky rice during her performance at the Coachella music festival in California.

The government said it is planning to propose to Unesco to include the dessert in Thailand's intangible cultural heritage list.

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This article was first published in South China Morning Post.