Archive for the Northern Region Category

Thailand – Chiang Rai – eating out

Posted in Chiang Rai, Northern Region, Thailand with tags , on April 27, 2019 by gannet39

I was only in Chiang Rai for a couple of nights so please don’t consider this a guide, I’m sure there are many other good places. You’ll find lots of other suggestions on my map.

Lung Eed Locol (High Elementary B), Watpranorn Rd, ตำบล เวียง Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000, 11.30am-9pm Mon-Sat

A plain simple place a short walk from the centre. It’s a Lonely Planet Top Choice so they’re used to tourists and have an English-language picture menu.

They’re famous for their Lâhp Gài (minced chicken fried with spices and topped with crispy deep-fried chicken skin, shallots and garlic). I also had some Steamed Curried Fish. Both were fine (B).

The green leaf on the plate bottom right is Phak Chi Farang which literally means “European coriander”, perhaps because European traders brought it from the Americas to Thailand. It’s native to south and central America where it’s known as Culantro (or Mexican or long coriander to us) but you’ll see it on many northern Thai plates. The flavour is much stronger than normal coriander.

Lab Sabnam Keera (Intermediate B), 123 ตําบล, หมู่ที่ 22 Naarsanarmkeera Rd, อําเภ, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Rai, Chang Wat Chiang Rai 57000,

This is a popular restaurant a short walk outside the centre. It’s a big old place with lots of plastic chairs and tables under a large covered area with open sides. I’m guessing it’s popular because it’s very cheap.

Despite the picture menu I had a few communication problems with the young servers who don’t seem to have much experience with tourists, or their own menu. Generally service was very sloppy and I had to ask for fresh herbs and rice which should come automatically.

I’d come to eat a certain fish dish, Pla Tub Tim Tod Kra Tiam (fried Tilapia with garlic) recommended by another blogger. It didn’t seem to be on the menu but fortunately I had a photo to show them. It’s certainly spectacular to look at (B+), covered in deep-fried battered garlic but it was very dry due to being over-fried (C+). I suppose that just goes to show you shouldn’t always believe what bloggers say!

I actually preferred the Spicy Tendon Soup made with intestines, kidneys and liver (B+).

But I was less keen on the Slow-Cooked Beef with Galangal Chilli Powder (C).

I think the latter was a mis-order and I was actually after the Yang Ruam (ย่างรวม), a dish of grilled pork, including fatty meat, intestines and liver. A bit of Thai or a better picture menu is needed here!

So I didn’t have the most amazing culinary experience in Chiang Rai but I ate fairly well. Maybe I’ll do better in Laos…


Thailand – Chiang Rai – a walk around the Morning Market

Posted in Chiang Rai, Northern Region, Thailand with tags on April 26, 2019 by gannet39

There are several markets in Chiang Rai but probably the most important is the Morning Market which you’ll find on the block between Trairat, Uttarakit and Suk Sathit roads. The main entrance is on Suk Sathit.

I love wandering around markets trying to identify all the ingredients.

These medium-sized red and green chillis are called Phrik Chi Fa, as opposed to the smaller Bird’s Eye chillis which are Phrik Khi Nu.

Here we have, from top left with the yellow flowers, Phak Kwangtung (or what we in the UK would call Chinese flowering cabbage, Choy Sum), Phak Khana (Chinese broccoli or Gai Lan), Phak Bung (water spinach or Morning Glory), two kinds of Phak Chi (coriander), Gui Chai (scallions) and some more coriander (you can never have too much).

The small variety of Morning Glory is known as Phak Bung Na and is usually eaten raw with Som Tam or with Nam Phrik. The larger variety above is Phak Bung Chin which is usually stir-fried or put in soups.

Avocados (introduced by missionaries in the 1990s) are given the phonetic name Xā Wo Khā Do.

Pineapples are called Sapparot.

Makhuea Pro are Thai aubergines.

Not sure what these are. I don’t think they are Pea Aubergines of Jujubes. Any ideas?

Many kinds of rice. Hom Mali (Jasmine) Khao Neow (sticky rice) are the most common varieties.

Giant freshwater prawns, known as Koong Mae Nam or Koong Ghram Gram in Thailand.

Some bizarre-looking Pla Tuu, or Thai mackerel.

Toa Hu (tofu) comes in many varieties. I think this is Tau Hu (firm tofu) wrapped in banana leaves.

Two kinds of Nam Phrik amongst many. Perhaps its the northern Nam Phrik Ong.

This is Pak Gard Dong (pickled mustard greens).

No idea what the big lump at the top is sorry.

The wood at the bottom is known in Lao as Mai Sakaan which is best translated into English as ‘spicy chilli wood‘. It’s a species of black pepper plant but the spicy flavour is found in the bark. It features a lot in Lao cuisine as well see in a later post.

Don’t know the Thai name sorry but in English these are bamboobores, also known as bamboo worms! Eating insects is a thing in Thailand if you didn’t know. You can buy them ready to eat; deep-fried and salted. Bamboobores are quite neutral tasting apparently, like popcorn.

You can get other snacks here too. Sausages are very popular in the north and there are many types.

This is sticky rice with mango steamed in a banana leaf.

And there’s a couple of sit down stalls for noodle soups.

Just wish I had a kitchen here! It’s definitely time to eat…

Thailand – a few wats in Chiang Rai

Posted in Chiang Rai, Northern Region, Thailand with tags , , , on April 25, 2019 by gannet39

Chiang Rai has many beautiful wats. Here are a few I saw on a whistle stop tour. They’re all on my map.

Wat Klang Wiang was my favourite. The statues have an almost cartoon-like quality reminiscent of a theme park.

You can click on these photos to enlarge then on a PC.

Wat Mung Muang sports triple-headed Nāgas, the serpent deities worshipped in Hinduism, Buddhism and Jainism.

Can’t find the name of this wat for the life of me but it was near Wat Mung Muang. Interesting that the Hindu god Ganesh also seems to be worshipped here.

The golden bird in the middle is a Hongsa, a mythical swan, that you will often see around temples. In Indian mythology, from which it originates, it is said to eat pearls.

Wat Phra Sing is noted for the quality of its Lanna craftsmanship.

Wat Phra Kaew once housed the Emerald Buddha, Thailand’s most revered Buddha image.

Wat Srikerd has some impressive nagas guarding its entrance.

The most famous wat in Chiang Rai is Wat Rong Khun or ‘the White Temple’, a modern private temple opened in 1997, but as it requires a trip out of town I didn’t go to see it.

A trip to the market was more important for me…

Thailand – chilling in Chiang Rai

Posted in Chiang Rai, Northern Region, Thailand with tags on April 24, 2019 by gannet39

After finishing work in Nan I moved a little further on to Chiang Rai, the northernmost city in Thailand. The plan was to stay a couple of nights before heading to nearby Huay Xai in Laos to take a boat down the Mekong, more of which in a later post.

Chiang Rai has a relaxed, country town feel to it, but the locals aren’t above a bit of ostentation as their town clock shows.

The police also seem to like a bit of bling.

I’m guessing this is a member of the royal family cutting a macho figure.

I enjoyed staying at the Nak Nakara Hotel (Intermediate B+) at 661 Uttarakit, ตำบล เวียง อำเภอ เมืองเชียงราย, www.naknakarahotel. The modern Lanna-style rooms have air conditioning, satellite TV, a mosquito net, fridge and a private bathroom. The breakfast is decent and all the staff were friendly and helpful.

There are also a lot of beautiful wats in town, more of which in the next post. The main market is also quite interesting, so I’ve given it it’s own post, and there’s also another post on my dining experiences. My map with everything on is here.

Other than the wats, there were a few other bits of architecture that caught my eye. There were a couple of pieces of deco.

Not to sure how to label these but I liked the colours.

So, lets check out the wats…

Thailand – traditional northern food in Nan

Posted in Nan, Northern Region, Thailand with tags on April 23, 2019 by gannet39

Nan is an ancient town with a lot of history but what struck me most was how beautifully green and lush it was. I’d love to come back one day and get to know it better.

Again my experience was very brief, there’s only three places on my map, but I did get to go to this excellent restaurant…

Huan Puka เฮือนภูคา (Intermediate A), Nai Wiang, Mueang Nan District, Nan 55000,

Huan Puka is located in a beautiful old traditional house.

The surroundings are very atmospheric.

On one wall is a copy of a famous local painting called Pu Marn Ya Marn, the Whisper of Love, showing a tattooed man whispering words of love into a woman’s ear. The original can be seen in Wat Phumin.

This is an old wooden cowbell which is now used to summon the waiters.

The restaurant specialises in Northern dishes. Apologies but I didn’t get the local names.

Most lovers of Thai food will be familiar with Nam Prick, the chilli-based sauce. However in the North they have Nam Prick Ong which is made from ground pork pounded in a mortar with tomatoes, dried chili, salt, garlic, lemongrass, water and shrimp paste. This is typically served with an assortment of fresh seasonal vegetables and here with sliced sausage and pork scratchings as well.

The Herbal Curry looked like a bowl of garden trimmings, which is what it actually turned out to be. Pom the young owner told us that many of the herbs and other ingredients grow in the yard around the restaurant.

Not exactly sure what this prawn dish was sorry but it was great!

On the menu this dish is described as Stir-fried Gymnema Sylvestre with Egg.

I’d never heard of it before but Gymnema Sylvestre is a woody vine which is used in Ayurvedic medicine.

Purple sticky rice is one of a few different colour varieties you can find in the north.

Although many of these ingredients were unknown to me it was all delicious and you could sense it was very healthy.

We finished the meal with a few of shots of Thai brandy which was less healthy but ended things nicely.

By this time Pom had joined us at the table and we spent a long time chatting. He used to work at a reggae bar in some holiday resort but now has invested in a quieter life in his home town. He still considers himself a Thai rasta although he had recently cut off his locks. He’s a lovely guy that’s definitely deserves supporting.

Sadly Nan was the last stop on this work trip and Grid and I had to say our goodbyes. Many thanks for looking after me so well Grid! It certainly was a great culinary experience.

My adventure hadn’t finished though and I carried on further north to Chiang Rai…

Thailand – a Chinese Muslim noodle soup in Phrae

Posted in Northern Region, Phrae, Thailand with tags , on April 22, 2019 by gannet39

Phrae is a town of about eighteen thousand people in the northern region of Thailand. The historical culture and cuisine of the region is called Lanna.

Lanna cuisine shares certain dishes with neighboring Shan State in Myanmar, and with Laos. As in north-eastern Thailand, glutinous rice is preferred rather than jasmine rice.

I’d give you a map of the town but it’s pointless as the restaurant address doesn’t come up on Google maps. However it is very famous locally so if you ask around I’m sure you’ll find it.

Khaosoi Che Lek (Elementary A), 35 Nam Kue Road Nai Wiang Subdistrict Mueang Prae District, Phrae

A simple place with a pleasant atmosphere specialising in Khaosoi, a Lanna meat noodle soup made throughout Myanmar, Laos and northern Thailand.

It’s reckoned that Kahosoi was originally brought from China by the ancestors of the Chin Haw, Thai Chinese people whose forbears migrated to Thailand via Myanmar or Laos. About a third of the Chin Haw were Muslim so their version of Khaosoi featured chicken or beef.

Che Lek is the name of the lady who owns the restaurant. Her Khaosoi is made with egg noodles, both boiled and some deep-fried to garnish, with beef in a curry-like sauce (although I believe there is a chicken option too), a slab of congealed blood, chopped green beans, lettuce and coriander. Pickled mustard greens, known as Phakkat Sophon amongst other names, are served on the side.

The restaurant is also known for Moo Satae, grilled fermented pork served with peanut sauce. The original Indonesian satay is of course made with chicken but various meat and even vegetable versions can be found in Thailand.

Fantastic food once more. I wish I could eat it all over again.

A lightening visit to Nan next…

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