The cuisine in the north is more aromatic and has a stronger taste than that of central Thailand, which visitors like me are more familiar with. Spent 10 nights in Chiang Mai and tried to eat as much variety as possible aside from all the food I cooked in my 3-day Thai cookery class.
My favorite is the northern sausage which is chockful of herbs.
Tastes really nice grilled rather than fried. Talking of grills, many times, a simple stall grilling meat on skewers satiated my hunger pangs in the evening.
Yup, even sticky rice is grilled.
For something more substantial, I headed to restaurants. Took my chance and headed to popular and always packed Kajana at the old town for lunch and lo and behold! Found empty tables.
The pork sausage with eggs and glass noodles was soooo good I immediately wrote down the recipe the way I understood it based on taste and look.
The roast pork in curry is a little sweetish but oh so tender you can pick it with just a fork. Warning: if eating alone, don’t order another dish like what I did coz the portion is big.
On the two times I lunched at Aroon Rai the food was always delicious.
Portions are generous and the staff friendly. Because I was always hungry whenever I came, I always headed straight to the pre-cooked food counter rather than ordering a la carte.
A surprise discovery was Yummy E-San which I always ignored due to its cirny name. Too touristy so maybe the taste is touristy too. Hunger and convenience drove me there one night so I took a table. The Tom Yum with coconut milk was really delicious with just the right amount of sourness balanced by the coconut milk.
However, it was the Fried Tofu in Tamarind Sauce that won me over. Melt in your mouth soft tofu so perfectly fried it was delicate to the tongue. Dipped in tangily sweet tamarind sauce, it was heavenly.
Good Taste kitchen just as its name suggests has really good taste both in interiors—cute wooden tables for a homey feel— and food.
Seriously good Green Curry Fried Rice.
Wat Phan On with its spacious grounds that hosts a few food stalls was also my go to place if I needed something simple and hot such as a bowl of noodle soup. I just added the pork cracklings on the soup.
Speaking of pork, the Thai make crispy pork so perfectly. Just the right thickness and fried to a crisp. Not too salty.
Wat Phra Singh was also hosting a small market where I had some som tam, the ubiquitious Thai papaya salad.
I guesss wats not only provide spiritual nourishment but physical too.
Off Rachadamnoen Rd at the old town was this Mango with Sticky Rice. The blue rice is naturally tinted with butterfly pea flowers.
Of course, I had to have my khao soi, Chiang Mai’s signature noodle dish. This was courtesy of a stall at the Sunday Night Market at the old town.
In case, you need some Western food, there are burger places and lots of Italian restos. Had a pizza with smoked ham and smoked cheese at La Fontana. Good value at TH 200.
I didn’t eat too much breakfast as I had a stash of fruits. Was thinking of going to Fueng Fah for their TH 289 breakfast buffet was too lazy to get up early. I did get to try the eggs benedict at Art Cafe just across Thapae Gate in the morning I arrived by plane from Bangkok. Looked pretty on my plate but it had the most tasteless Hollandaise sauce ever. A better breakfast was at The Garden where I had a tasty breakfast sausage, some really good wheat toast with jelly, and pan-fried potatoes.
Breakfast fare is mostly Western perhaps as a break from all the local food. Besides, the farang may not take to noodle soup or rice porridge in the morning.
The quiet soi in the old town and even the night bazaar area where my hotel wad is home to small quaint cafes that beckon the weary temple-hopper to take a break and just watch the world go by. At Nam’s, I could have sat on my wooden chair forever.
A cool leafy spot at Coffee Corner Kitchen.
Rachadamnern Cafe near the Chiang Mai police station has good coffee and pastries. Went to Angel’s Secrets for the famous carrot cake but the place was packed and no cake in sight.
So skip the big chains like Starbucks, Black Canyon, and Wawee and look for these hidden gems. You also get to support local independent businesses.
Surprisingly, I didn’t hav much desserts. My sweet tooth was asleep perhaps. I did have a cup of white chocolate gelato at Gelato World but only just because I was too embarassed not to buy after looking at the display far too long. I did buy some traditional Thai desserts.
Many places to eat but not enough time to try. The bane of solo travel also is you can’t order much. I guess I should just have to make a return trip.