Saturday, February 17, 2018

Chiang Mai - Street Food Snacks



Outside of regular meals (and sometimes in place of them), we sampled various street foods during our time in Chiang Mai.

One evening, after having some beef noodle soup near the Old City south gate, we saw a stall (pictured above) selling various grilled meats. We'd been wanting to try some Thai sausages, so we grabbed some sai oua.



On our way back to our hotel, we saw a little cart grilling up another type of sausage - sai krok isan.



Neither sausage was amazing, but they made for a nice late-night snack.

On another day, we found ourselves walking about and saw a guy grilling up squid skewers.



It was around the time school got out and he was being well patronized by the local kids, so we figured it was a good bet and grabbed ourselves a few skewers.



A bit chewy, but really nice flavor and a fun street-side treat.

We had seen various stands selling coconut-flavored rice pancakes, and we finally pulled the trigger on some:



Soft and sweet with lots of coconut flavor.



We had also seen pieces of durian for sale all over the place. We'd never tried it before, so we had to get some:



We liked it a lot - it had a really nice custard-like flavor. The smell was not off-putting at all. It was not durian season, though - maybe they are more pungent then?



Our hotel was very firm on the durian issue, so obviously it can sometimes be a problem...

Thursday, February 8, 2018

Chiang Mai - Khao Soi Khun Yai



Khao Soi is definitely way up there in the running for our "best dish of the trip", due to the excellent rendition we had at Khao Soi Khun Yai.



A small setup that only operates from mid-morning until early afternoon, Khun Yai makes just a couple of dishes. The main event (for us at least) is their Khao Soi, a deeply flavored and rich curry-like broth with pieces of chicken leg and egg noodles.



Wide egg noodles are served in the broth and a mound of smaller, crispy fried noodles gets mounded on the top providing a really nice texture contrast.



You also get some lime, shallot and pickled veg on the side to add as you please. It is really all about that broth, though. Complex, a bit spicy and immensely satisfying.



The ladies running the place were efficient and friendly. We enjoyed the entirety of the experience so much that we came back again the morning we left Chiang Mai.

This time we also tried the beef version of the Khao Soi:



Still super tasty, but probably not quite as good as the chicken version.

Khao Soi Khun Yai is kind of hidden - tucked away between two wats (Thai Buddhist temples). Going west from the Chiang Mai Old City north gate, it is just past the wat with all of the horses:



If you hit the wat with the big Buddha and dragons, you've gone too far:



Wats are everywhere in Chiang Mai, so it is only natural that they act as a kind of waypoint system.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Chiang Mai North Gate - Cowboy Hat Lady Khao Kha Moo and Suki Koka



Still hungry after some snacking at the Chiang Mai Sunday Night Market, we needed a bit more to eat so we headed up to the north gate of the old city area - Pratu Chang Phueak.



Just north across the moat of water that encircles (or more accurately "ensquares") the old city is a hotbed of street food that sets up at night. The centerpiece of this activity is the Cowboy Hat Lady, serving up her Khao Kah Moo (pork leg rice).



Leg of pork stewed in a cauldron of spiced broth and then chopped up to order, served with a perfectly cooked egg.



Our hastily-snapped low light picture doesn't do the dish justice. We also didn't capture the tasty pickled green veg that was served on the side.



A very satisfying meal in a convivial atmosphere.

We found ourselves back in the same area and hungry again later in our visit to Chiang Mai. This time our sights were set on Suki Koka, a stand selling Thai "suki".



Thai suki is a dish evolved from Japanese sukiyaki. I'm not sure of all the forms it takes in Thailand, but this street version was not a hot pot dish at all, but rather stir-fried to order.



Napa cabbage and pork, with soft curds of egg and some glass noodles. A dipping sauce on the side added extra punches of flavor.



We liked it a lot, and the locals obviously agreed since the place was jam packed from when we arrived until the time we left.

Friday, February 2, 2018

Chiang Mai - Sunday Night Market Eats



Another new place means more food-on-a-stick! It was our first evening in Chiang Mai and the Sunday Night Market was on, so we headed out for some snacks.

First up was some shumai-like dumplings being sold by an amusingly grumpy lady. Nothing particularly special, but they were tasty enough.



They were served in a little styrofoam bowl - you need to be careful because it is easy to poke a hole in the bottom and have the sauce drip on your feet, as we found out firsthand...

Next up, some pork skewers:



I don't know what it is about the grilled meats in Vietnam and Thailand, but every single skewer we ate was super good.

We rounded out our snacking with a papaya salad:



This was the first time we got a genuinely very spicy dish in Thailand. I had to be very adamant with the lady making it, but she finally acquiesced and made us a salad that had our mouths burning - in a good way.



The night market got more and more packed as the evening progressed, so we eventually ducked down a side street to get away from the crowds. A stand was set up selling noodles dishes - we didn't try any, but I thought the setup was pretty fun.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Kata Beach - Koi Restaurant, Kwong Shop Seafood and Lucky Cafe



Having really enjoyed our meals at The Pad Thai Shop, we decided to try another eatery on Patak Road - Koi Restaurant. They specialize in seafood, so that is the direction we went.

We had a fried fish with basil dish that was very tasty - great textures and flavors:



We also had a mixed seafood green curry. It wasn't much to look at, but was delicious:



More on the pretty, but not as tasty end of the spectrum was this squid curry that we had at Kwong Shop Seafood:



Their pad kra pao was fantastic, though:



On our last night in Kata Beach, we had dinner at the one table outside Lucky Cafe - a little place a few doors down from where we were staying.

The woman running the place was very nice, and they turned out a couple of solid dishes for us - a chicken pad thai:



and a "spicy" seafood salad (it actually wasn't particularly spicy, but we enjoyed it):



All in all, despite Kata Beach's tourist overload we managed to eat quite a bit of good food while we were there.

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Kata Beach - The Pad Thai Shop



Pad Thai has become almost a cliché dish - both as an American Thai restaurant staple, and as the only dish Americans order when in Thailand. That doesn't mean you shouldn't order it, though, because it is delicious. And it rises to a whole new level in Thailand.



Located on Patak Road, inland from the tourist beach corridor, The Pad Thai Shop is very much a local joint with a sprinkling of expats and tourists thrown into the mix.



We ordered the chicken and the prawn pad thai - both were delicious, but we particularly liked the chicken. Easily the best version of the dish I've ever had.

There were other items on the menu we wanted to try, so we came back again another day. This time the main event was noodle soup with braised chicken:



Chicken leg, foot and an egg in a rich, savory broth with wide rice noodles. Amazing.



Less amazing, but still quite pleasant to eat was the crab fried rice.



I wish we'd been able to eat here a few more times, as other items on the menu were still beckoning. Definitely a must try if you are in Kata Beach.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Kata Beach - Beaches, Russians, Ska Bar and Meat on a Stick



Arriving for the first time in Thailand I expected culture shock. Staying in Kata Beach in the Phuket tourist zone I expected tourists. I didn't expect both the culture shock and the tourist overload to be Russian.

It turns out that there are a *lot* of Russians vacationing in Kata Beach.



Despite the Slavic overload, it was a very pretty place to be. Our daily routine was to walk the length of the beach, stopping for a swim or two along the way.

On our first such excursion, we noticed a little outdoor bar built into the rocks at the south end of the beach. We stopped for a few beers, and just like that Ska Bar became officially part of our daily routine.



After our beverages at Ska, we needed something to eat and there is no better first meal in a new country than meat-on-a-stick.



This stand was set up in front of a convenience store and they were doing a brisk business.



We tried the pork, the chicken, and the "smart" chicken:



The "smart" chicken turned out to be chicken hearts. Not sure where the "smart" comes from, but they were quite tasty, as were the other skewers.