Chanchao's Chiang Mai Food Review
Reviews of restaurants and Thai food stalls in Chiang Mai, Thailand
By: Chanchao in Chiang Mai

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Friday, 1-Jan-2010 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
*** Introduction ***

A smile...
...a day...
...keeps the doctor away.
It's been a couple of months without significant additions, due to being incredibly busy and working on a Thai Travel Menu.

A Thai Travel Menu? Yes, a Thai Travel Menu. It can be used to order more interesting food at places that don't have a full English language menu, and it also provides an overview of typical places to eat in Thailand. Get it here:

On this page I will be posting short reviews and pictures on food stalls and restaurants in Chiang Mai, Thailand. These will mostly be places I recommend, no sour slagging off of places I didn't enjoy, unless they really deserve it. I will very much include out of the way places that rarely get foreign visitors. Note that the listing now spans several pages, so I made an Index Page with links to all entries.

Sunday, 18-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Trendy Coffee & Cake Shops

Brown Bean Coffee
Outside seating area overlooking the Ping River
Hot chocolate with generous whipped cream
View all 6 photos...
Coffee & cake cafe's seem to be mushrooming throughout major cities in Thailand, and Chiang Mai is no exception. Most of them mimic the Starbucks format, though prices are usually a lot more reasonable than Starbucks, for which, like Haagen Dasz I can find no other words besides 'total rip off'.. (Chiang Mai has two Starbucks outlets, one on the Night Bazar road near the Suriwong hotel and one in the Airport Plaza shopping mall. And Haagen Dasz you'll have to find for yourself if you want it! )

Nescafe instant coffee used to rule Thailand, but this is finally changing. Nescafe became the de-facto standard for 'coffee' for a long time, taking over from the old-style Thai filter coffee stalls which are now increasingly hard to find. (Here's a good one though: Old style Thai coffee)

Now there are many independent, trendy little coffee shops around. Some of course do better than others.. I think a good one is just South of the Night Bazaar on Chang Klan road on the left hand side. But for this review I picked this new one, not because the coffee or cakes are better than elsewhere, but because of the nice river-side setting. It is in fact right next to the well known Riverside Restaurant, close to the Nawarat bridge.

Thursday, 15-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Pa Thong Go breakfast pastry ("Chromosome Donuts")

Pa Thong Go stall
Making the little X-shaped donuts
Close up :)
In Thailand there are actually relatively few dishes that are really NOT commonly eaten for breakfast. Pretty much anything from fried rice to curries and noodles can be breakfast. There are however a few dishes that are more common. The thing that comes first to mind when you say 'Thai breakfast' would be 'khao tom', a plain rice soup that is eaten with various salty, soury and/or spicy side dishes. Many hotels that cater to a Thai clientele will have a khao tom section in their morning buffets.

But there are more typical breakfast things, like the pa thong go pastry I talk about today. Also this one may sit better with your average Western visitor as a breakfast choice, compared to rice soup with salty preserved eggs. You will not find pa thong go exclusively during breakfast hours, it can be had as a snack or light meal pretty much any time of the day and night.

Pa thong go are little X-shaped fried pastry, a bit like a donut perhaps. They're eaten usually with sweet soy milk, or a custard cream. The most common custard cream is the green one which gets it's colour and flavour from the pandanus leaf. Just dip and eat. Other things you can dip your pa thong go in would be strong sweet coffee or Ovaltine. Aside from the X-shaped (chromosome shaped) ones, most stalls also offer a round shape, often with some sesame seeds on top. They're very cheap, like 1 baht each and a couple of baht for the soy milk or custard cream. This particular stall where I took these pictures is located at Chang Phuak food market, at Chang Phuak gate in Chiang Mai. This one is in operation in the evening and deep into the night.

Wednesday, 14-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Madame Ian Vietnamese Restaurant & Buffet

Madame Ian Restaurant
Buffet dishes, or order from the menu which is *included*
Also order from menu, it's included in the all-you-can-eat price
View all 5 photos...
This is the first time I mention a Vietnamese restaurant in Chiang Mai; there are perhaps 4-5 other places around town that I know of, but I picked this one to be the first for a review. I picked it because the food is nice of course, and because it offers an all-you-can-eat buffet. You're not limited to just the buffet-dishes though, you can order from the menu as well and this is included in the buffet price of 109 baht per person! There are only some dishes excluded from this, only those that involve the restaurant's home made 'moo yor', a kind of pork sausage usually wrapped in banana leaves. I completely don't understand why this particular thing is excluded, it's hardly the most expensive thing ever.. Or the most exciting for that matter, so I don't regret it, I just wonder about it. Sweet desserts are also included in the 109 baht buffet price, but not drinks. You're still getting excellent value for money though, especially when you bring a healthy appetite!

This place is very popular for lunch, and many of the dishes are a nice change from general Thai food. Madame Ian restaurant is in a shophouse style building (I forgot to take the first outside picture, I plan to add it later) on Wichayanon Road. This is the road that goes from the North-Eastern corner of the old city (Sriphoom Corner) towards the river. You find Madame Ian on the right hand side opposite the old President Hotel. (When going by taxi/tuk tuk, say 'President Hotel', when going by car, you can park at the hotel's parking lot).

Friday, 2-Jul-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Noodle shops, old and new.. And Ostrich Noodles!

Hor Jia Noodle Restaurant
Bright, new interior with a Chinese theme
For comparison: Daeng Ocha. Packed!
View all 10 photos...
Note: The ostrich noodle place didn't make it, I think it has closed. Yet the other 'old style' basic shop keeps running strong... This is SO typical! Some old places just keep going and going without ANY change or as much as some new paint here and there..

Without a doubt, THE most popular dish in Thailand for lunch or even other times of the day and night has got to be 'kuaytiow', Noodle Soup. I've talked about them before, from a 3 baht noodle shop to perhaps the most popular one in Chiang Mai. Now for the first time a head to head encounter: old versus new.. Be sure to click to see all pictures.

It's funny to note that when it comes to popularity, the 'appearance' of the shop seems to be completely unimportant. Many of the most popular noodle shops in Thailand look distinctly scruffy, worn out, messy or even dusty/dirty. Yet they're full of people every day.. and making good money! Owners of the most popular shops drive Mercedes Benz cars and send their children to top foreign universities. At times this made me cry out "why not invest a couple of hundred baht into some buckets of paint then!? The place looks grotty, like it hasn't received the most basic of maintenance for decades!" No arguments about the food quality though; at the most popular shops this is consistently high and service is blazing fast.

Then I ran into this new little shop I talk about today. It's still a noodle shop, but there's paint on the wall! There's a style and theme to the place, nice decorations, not just things that happened to linger around by chance for 30 odd years! It all looks nice and bright, and food and service are good too. It's called 'Hor Jia' and is on Chang Klan road right in between Bangkok Bank and Krung Thai bank. (Close proximity to plenty of middle-class bank employees is a dream location for any noodle shop)

For comparison with an old style noodle shop (and there are hundreds of these), I went to a shop called Daeng Ocha the day after, to shoot some pics for comparison. Daeng Ocha is next to Sanpakhoi market and a perfect example of a place where nobody ever dwelled on decorations or maintenance for more time than it takes to change the calendar to a new one on January 1st, or to glue the latest Coke or Pepsi poster to the wall. Funnily enough it is also a stone's throw to the Krung Thai and Bangkok Bank branches on Charoen Muang road..

Without a doubt Daeng Ocha makes far more money. I had to wait for a small seat on the side to become available.

Back to Hor Jia. They do very good noodles with pork meat, stewed with Chinese spices. But there's also a surprise on the menu: Noodles with ostrich meat!! Ostrich meat has been a bit of a fad the last couple of years, you find it occasionally on the menu as a substitute for beef, but I don't feel that it's ever become very popular. Do try it though, it's kind of nice when prepared the same style as stewed Chinese pork or beef! In addition they serve OK dim sum for 20 baht per tray of 2 pieces. Pork noodles go for 30 baht, ostrich noodles 40 baht. At Daeng Ocha, regular beef stew noodles go for 25 baht. Both places serve unsweetened iced tea for free.

Hor Jia is on Chang Klan road, South of the night bazar, in between the Krung Thai Bank and Bangkok Bank on the right hand side of the road. Daeng Ocha is in the soi off Jaroen Muang road that leads to Sanpakhoi Market and the Kawila Barracks. After crossing Nawarat bridge go straight at the traffic lights, then at the next traffic lights turn right. (At the Krung Thai bank on the corner)

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