It’s a paradise for nature and especially mountain lovers!
|Wild ferns seen on the Angkha Nature Trail|
|Mountain rooster, simply beautiful|
|A Hmong village overlooking the endless mountain ranges in the backdrop|
The people are some of the warmest and kindest souls I’ve met
Chiang Mai food is an eclectic mix of cultures
You will be surprised by how different the Northern Thai dishes are from your regular stereotypical Thai food (insert Tom Yum, Pad Thai). Chiang Mai, being geographically closer to its northern counterparts, has drawn and assimilated inspirations from various food cultures.
Most notably, the Thai version of the Hainanese Chicken Rice. The steamed or boiled chicken is tender and succulent, and the rice is plump and has fully absorbed the essence of the chicken broth. The one thing that is different from the Malaysian and the Singaporean versions is the dipping sauce. Unlike the usual fiery red chilli sauce, the Thai’s take on the dipping sauce comprises of the Teochew style fermented soy bean paste mixed with chopped coriander bits, finely chopped garlic, coarsely chopped green chillies and ginger served on a separate sauce dish and finished off with a squeeze of lime. It’s something different to be eaten with chicken rice, but the taste is something oddly familiar and feels close to home. For some authentic Thai Hainanese Chicken Rice (Khao Man Gai), head over to “Kiat Ocha”
Next up, introducing the authentic Northern Isaan Thai cuisine, where you will find abundance of sticky rice and fresh greens and herbs on the dining table to be eaten with various dishes served in small portions. Chiang Mai being located in the mountainous regions of Thailand, lacks of vast flat lands for the planting of ordinary rice, instead the climate and the soil conditions are more suited to planting sticky rice. With the abundant availability of fresh mountain greens and herbs, meat dishes are often seasoned with toasted sticky rice, fishsauce, culantro (long coriander) and so on, such as this famous Isaan dish called “Larb Khua Moo” (minced pork). The pork sausages are to die-for, everywhere I go, the quality of the pork sausages never failed to impress me.
Check out “Huen Phen” if you want some authentic Isaan food experience, here is the link:
|Larb Khua Moo|
|Northern Thai sausages are the best|
|The whole ensemble of our Isaan food experience|
Another dish you must try when you visit Chiang Mai is Khao Soi, which is a Burmese-inspired dish, believed to have been introduced by the Chinese Muslims during the Silk Road trade. Depending on the restaurant, some can be spicier than the other, the broth is usually creamy and lighter in consistency compared to the typical Southern Thai curries. Of particular note, the crispy deep-fried noodles add an extra crunch and dimension in textures to the otherwise plain, soggy egg noodles.
The restaurant where we had the clear-broth noodles with pork ribs and super tiny fish balls is linked down below, it’s a random restaurant that we chanced upon while wandering around the town and the name of the shop is in Thai language.
|Pork rib Khao Soi, the spicier version|
|Chicken Khao Soi, the milder version|
Many other (Southern) Chinese-inspired and influenced dishes such as Teo Chew fish balls, clear broth soup noodles, char siu, wantons, siu yuk (crispy roast pork) and so on, are vastly available in eateries across Chiang Mai. So, those who favour a refreshing change of palette from the spicy Thai dishes can opt for these light Chinese-influenced cuisines.
|Clear-broth soup noodles with pork ribs, pork slices and fish balls|
|Wonderful rendition of the Cantonese wantons and char siu|
|Rice with crispy roast pork|
|Chicken noodles with curdled pig’s blood|
So have you been to Chiang Mai and what are your first impressions?