Ask the expert: Where to enjoy authentic local food in this northern Thai province.
On the food trail in Chiang Mai
We're going to visit Thailand next week, and plan to spend a few days in Chiang Mai. While we're definitely going to try out a Thai cooking class, such as the one mentioned in the article "Recipe for relaxation" published in your November 13 edition, we'd like to spend a lot of time sampling Thai food. Can you suggest a few good restaurants that serve authentic fare?
The best way to get your hands on good Thai food in Chiang Mai is to eat where the locals eat. Like the rest of Thailand, the province is a foodie's delight - there are scores of restaurants serving up nutritious, healthy meals, from breakfast to dessert.
Lankam Terrace at the Chiang Inn night bazaar on Chiangkian Road (00 66 53 281 342) does quick and popular staples, such as krapao kai (stir-fried chicken with basil and green peppercorn), khao pat kai (chicken fried rice), and guay tiew pad thai (fried noodles with prawns, vegetables and peanuts). Prices start from about 50 Thai baht (Dh6), and the servings are generous. Other good places include Plub Pla Thai Restaurant (001 5530 4121) at the Chiang Mai Business Park; Hong Tauw Inn on Nimanhemin Road (00 66 53 218 333); and Palaad Tawanrod (behind Chiang Mai University; 00 66 53 216 039), which is one of Chiang Mai's busiest restaurants - go early to avoid the queues (try the tord mun pla grai, small deep-fried fish cakes seasoned with kaffir lime and chilli paste, and served with sweet chilli sauce, about Bt80 [Dh10]).
But the best place to taste Thai food is at the street stalls, such as those that line Somphet food market on Moon Muang Road, and Anusam Market (essentially a long street full of shopping and food vendors).
Here, you'll find a range of great dishes: hot noodle soups (Bt25, Dh3); masaman kai-and-rice (Isaan-style coconut-based chicken curry; Bt40, Dh5); tasty grilled snacks such as chicken, lamb and beef satay (about Bt10 [Dh1.2] per stick) with creamy peanut sauce, and kai ha dao (roast chicken, Bt90 [Dh11]), sold with slices of cucumber and glutinous rice; and khanom, or desserts, that range from simple mung bean or tapioca puddings with condensed milk to tiny jasmine-flavoured banana cakes steamed in banana leaf cups (about Bt40, Dh5). Don't forget to stop by a fruit vendor for slices of fresh raw Thai mango, pineapple or guava sprinkled with salt and chilli powder (Bt10, Dh1.2). No trawl of a Thai food market is complete without tucking into steaming tureens of fiery tom yum kung (prawn soup, about Bt40, Bt5) - which somehow only tastes good in Thailand.
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