Chiang Mai was really where I got my street food on, and maybe that’s how I got typhoid, but that’s another topic for another day. Our hotel was right next to the Night Bazaar where they had stall after stall of cheap goods, t-shirts, knick knacks, and in short, JUNK. After many years of traveling I have finally learned to resist the lure of shiny pretty junk. I will admit there were some cute things I lingered upon and contemplated buying, but the better part of me said “NO, no to junk!” Anyways, Dumpling Man and I tried to zoom past all the junk to find the food. We found this amazing and very clean food court. Average price for anything was $1!
This definitely didn’t pack as much punch as the khao soi at Huen Phen, but it was good for $1!! The portion was pretty small. I could have eaten 3 of them.
Khao Man Gai
This is like the Thai version of Hai Nam chicken. Dumpling Man really enjoyed how the flavors were very mild and bland. He was certainly sick of all the flavorful punchy Thai food.
The dish was accompanied by a tasty (a la MSG) chicken stock. I regretted eating it all because I was so thirsty later!
Kanom Jeen Naam Ngeow
No blood cubes in this one like at Huen Phen. It was pretty good with tomatoey flavor.
Mango Sticky Rice
Nom nom nom! This was more expensive than some all of the previous dishes, like $1.60!
The next day, we found a random cart frying up chicken and making papaya salad. Of course we had to be a bit suspicious, cuz God knows where her hands had been but there were a fair number of locals and tourists ordering food here so we just went for it.
The lady starts the salad by taking a handful of bright red Thai bird chilies and throwing them into her mortar and pestle to release the spawn of satan seeds from the pods. When she showed me the handful for approval I just nodded, but soon regretted approving 5-6 chilies for my order. Then she shaves some papaya, grinds some more, some limes, tomatoes, fish sauce, MSG, green beans, and grinds to a finish. She topped it off with some rice noodles too. What we had was the SPICIEST damn thing I have ever eaten in my entire life! There is absolutely NO comparison. I used to think Korean food was spicy, but seriously, nothing beats Thai food. My tongue and lips were so numb from heat that I started to slur my speech. But what surprised me most was that Dumpling Man was able to keep up! He probably ate slightly less than half. Despite all that, I loved the flavor of the salad, and I wasn’t too thirsty afterwards considering all the MSG!
We were still hungry of course so wandered some more to another cart for some fried rice. It was pretty standard but it was fun to watch them make it.
At night, we hit up the Sunday Walking Street which runs along the length of Ratchadamnoen Road (through the center of the old town), all the way to Thapae Gate. It is a pretty extensive night market with a lot more locals than the Night Bazaar. We were pretty disappointed with the food selection since we came kind of late around 9pm. Most of the food stalls had run out of food already and some were even packing up! I was kicking myself for not knowing this ahead of time because I was really hungry by this point and I felt like I was just scavenging around for anything to eat.
These weren’t too special. Just some fish balls topped with some herbs and ground peanuts but it was cutely served in a banana leaf bowl.
We did end up having some average pad thai, a chicken schwarma, and 2 bowls of noodle soups that night which I did not take pictures of because we were in such a hurry to find and eat ANYTHING before it all closed or was eaten up by the other shoppers. After all that we finally felt full, but did come across a rotee stand. I didn’t quite understand what rotee was since it just looked like a crepe. It was so much more!
I decided to go with the banana one. The rotee guy starts by taking fresh dough and stretching it out to a thin sheet, which he then places on his shallow wok to fry up. This already makes it so much tastier and crispier than a crepe, not to mention the texture is chewier and less delicate.
Next he cuts up bananas into it and folds it up into a little package and fries it on all sides.
Then he cuts it up and drizzles condensed milk over the top. It was delicious! And to think I passed by cart after cart of these and scoffed thinking, “Why would I want to spend my money on a stupid crepe? I could easily get one at home!” I definitely cannot find this at home.
And so ends my short jaunt through Chiang Mai. We had a good time despite the rain. It was nice to spend time in a city with less hustle and bustle compared to Bangkok. We found some good cheap eats so I can’t really complain about anything.