Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Chiang Mai - Warorot and Muang Mai Markets

We visited a couple of markets during our stay in Chiang Mai. First up was Warorot Market - just a short walk east of the old city.

There was plenty of stuff to see, including this massive banana stand we came across just before we hit the main market:

Our primary focus, however, was on looking for the food court so we could have some lunch.

We finally found it in the basement. We checked out a number of stalls before ordering a papaya salad from this one:

It was hard to resist this friendly lady working in front of a giant picture of herself.

The salad was very tasty, with lots of chunks of some kind of pork sausage. She also didn't hold back on the chili level, which we appreciated (she held up a chili as a question, and we gave her an enthusiastic thumbs-up).

We accompanied it with a dish from another stall:

Described as a "spicy lemon noodle with pork", this dish was not very spicy. It was delicious, however, and different from anything we'd had before - minced pork, sliced pork, pork balls and some crackling. The broth had a nice combination of creamy sweetness from coconut milk and bright acidity from the lemon.

Another day we were walking in the same area, but a bit farther north and came across the Muang Mai Market.

The market was quite large - sprawling across multiple blocks.

We were there in late morning, so a lot of stuff had already packed up, but there was still a lot going on.

It would be amazing to spend more time in a place like this and be able to shop for cooking ingredients. On this visit, however, we had to make do with feasting with our eyes.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Chiang Mai - SP Chicken

We had been wanting to try some Thai roast chicken, so one afternoon we stopped into SP Chicken and got ourselves a bird:

We were lucky we weren't any later, as we got their last chicken. People who came in just after us left disappointed.

There wasn't anything really wrong with our meal, but we were underwhelmed. The chicken was tasty enough, but didn't live up to our high expectations.

We didn't get a chance to try it anywhere else, but hopefully there are better options in Chiang Mai.

Saturday, February 24, 2018

Chiang Mai - Northern Thai food at Tong Tem Toh

One evening in Chiang Mai we ventured a bit outside of our normal old city stomping grounds to the Nimman district. The reason was to have dinner at Tong Tem Toh, a restaurant that specializes in Northern Thai food.

The setting was very nice, and the place was busy - which gave us a chance to peruse the menu as we waited for a table.

The heart of our dinner was a massive Northern Thai food sampler plate:

In the center are two bowls of Nam Prik - Thai chili dip. The one in front is Nam Prik Ong - made with minced pork, tomato and chili. The one behind it is Nam Prik Noom, which is primarily made from very hot roasted green chilies.

Both dips were very good with the provided veggies and pork rinds - we particularly enjoyed the green Nam Prik Noom.

Also on the plate was some Sai Oua sausage (which was better than the version we had tried earlier) and some Jeen Som Mok Kai - a fermented pork and egg mixture that we were not particularly fond of.

We also ordered Burmese pork curry:

It was absolutely delicious, as was a plate of grilled pork:

They were grilling this out front of the restaurant while we were waiting and the smell was irresistible, so we had to order some even though we ended up with too much food.

Overall it was a delicious and very interesting meal in a nice atmosphere.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chiang Mai - Street Food Snacks

Outside of regular meals (and sometimes in place of them), we sampled various street foods during our time in Chiang Mai.

One evening, after having some beef noodle soup near the Old City south gate, we saw a stall (pictured above) selling various grilled meats. We'd been wanting to try some Thai sausages, so we grabbed some Sai Oua.

On our way back to our hotel, we saw a little cart grilling up another type of sausage - Sai Krok Isan.

Neither sausage was amazing, but they made for a nice late-night snack.

On another day, we found ourselves walking about and saw a guy grilling up squid skewers.

It was around the time school got out and he was being well patronized by the local kids, so we figured it was a good bet and grabbed ourselves a few skewers.

A bit chewy, but really nice flavor and a fun street-side treat.

We had seen various stands selling coconut-flavored rice pancakes, and we finally pulled the trigger on some:

Soft and sweet with lots of coconut flavor.

We had also seen pieces of durian for sale all over the place. We'd never tried it before, so we had to get some:

We liked it a lot - it had a really nice custard-like flavor. The smell was not off-putting at all. It was not durian season, though - maybe they are more pungent then?

Our hotel was very firm on the durian issue, so obviously it can sometimes be a problem...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chiang Mai - Khao Soi Khun Yai

Khao Soi is definitely way up there in the running for our "best dish of the trip", due to the excellent rendition we had at Khao Soi Khun Yai.

A small setup that only operates from mid-morning until early afternoon, Khun Yai makes just a couple of dishes. The main event (for us at least) is their Khao Soi, a deeply flavored and rich curry-like broth with pieces of chicken leg and egg noodles.

Wide egg noodles are served in the broth and a mound of smaller, crispy fried noodles gets mounded on the top providing a really nice texture contrast.

You also get some lime, shallot and pickled veg on the side to add as you please. It is really all about that broth, though. Complex, a bit spicy and immensely satisfying.

The ladies running the place were efficient and friendly. We enjoyed the entirety of the experience so much that we came back again the morning we left Chiang Mai.

This time we also tried the beef version of the Khao Soi:

Still super tasty, but probably not quite as good as the chicken version.

Khao Soi Khun Yai is kind of hidden - tucked away between two wats (Thai Buddhist temples). Going west from the Chiang Mai Old City north gate, it is just past the wat with all of the horses:

If you hit the wat with the big Buddha and dragons, you've gone too far:

Wats are everywhere in Chiang Mai, so it is only natural that they act as a kind of waypoint system.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Chiang Mai North Gate - Cowboy Hat Lady Khao Kha Moo and Suki Koka

Still hungry after some snacking at the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market, we needed a bit more to eat so we headed up to the north gate of the old city area - Pratu Chang Phueak.

Just north across the moat of water that encircles (or more accurately "ensquares") the old city is a hotbed of street food that sets up at night. The centerpiece of this activity is the Cowboy Hat Lady, serving up her Khao Kah Moo (pork leg rice).

Leg of pork stewed in a cauldron of spiced broth and then chopped up to order, served with a perfectly cooked egg.

Our hastily-snapped low light picture doesn't do the dish justice. We also didn't capture the tasty pickled green veg that was served on the side.

A very satisfying meal in a convivial atmosphere.

We found ourselves back in the same area and hungry again later in our visit to Chiang Mai. This time our sights were set on Suki Koka, a stand selling Thai "suki".

Thai suki is a dish evolved from Japanese sukiyaki. I'm not sure of all the forms it takes in Thailand, but this street version was not a hot pot dish at all, but rather stir-fried to order.

Napa cabbage and pork, with soft curds of egg and some glass noodles. A dipping sauce on the side added extra punches of flavor.

We liked it a lot, and the locals obviously agreed since the place was jam packed from when we arrived until the time we left.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Chiang Mai - Sunday Night Market Eats

Another new place means more food-on-a-stick! It was our first evening in Chiang Mai and the Sunday Night Market was on, so we headed out for some snacks.

First up was some shumai-like dumplings being sold by an amusingly grumpy lady. Nothing particularly special, but they were tasty enough.

They were served in a little styrofoam bowl - you need to be careful because it is easy to poke a hole in the bottom and have the sauce drip on your feet, as we found out firsthand...

Next up, some pork skewers:

I don't know what it is about the grilled meats in Vietnam and Thailand, but every single skewer we ate was super good.

We rounded out our snacking with a papaya salad:

This was the first time we got a genuinely very spicy dish in Thailand. I had to be very adamant with the lady making it, but she finally acquiesced and made us a salad that had our mouths burning - in a good way.

The night market got more and more packed as the evening progressed, so we eventually ducked down a side street to get away from the crowds. A stand was set up selling noodles dishes - we didn't try any, but I thought the setup was pretty fun.