Chiang Mai Foodie Tour Experience
You can’t come to a place like Thailand and not specifically take time to explore and taste their amazing food. Chiang Mai is particularly known for its street food and Northern Thai style dishes. One thing I did not realize before coming to Thailand is that each region has its own take on Thai food, from level of spice/heat, sour versus bitter versus sweet flavors, use of coconut milk, level of saltiness, and slight variances in what is used in dishes such as Pad Thai.
Walking Food Tour
To further discover the local food scene we decided to once again take part in a walking food tour. This is something we often do within the first few days of arriving to a new place, especially when it has such great food as Chiang Mai. We chose a night tour through “Chiang Mai Foodie Tour” (http://chiangmaifoodietours.com/), which was four hours long and provided us with a serious amount of food!
We began at Warorot Market just outside the East Gate of the Old City area. After a delicious iced Thai tea we meandered among the many stalls, stopping to eat dumplings; sticky rice with sesame seeds that is soaked in coconut water overnight then steamed in bamboo; a sausage that had some nice spicy heat to it; and Thai pork meatballs which have rice in them and are served with raw cabbage and hot peppers.
We also had the chance to sample some dried fruit (stawberries, mango, kiwi, longan, etc), plus some fresh jack fruit. I thought the jack fruit tasted like a mix of banana, orange and pineapple. Yummy!
Driving Food Tour
Thankfully after all that eating we had a few minutes to digest as our hosts drove us to our next location, which was a restaurant well known by locals and off the tourist track. It is called Phet Doi Ngam and is located on Mahidol Road for those who want to hunt it down! We enjoyed some white turmeric salad (which was my favorite of the entire tour), a ground beef served over a salad including holy basil, a sautéed water spinach dish, a dish of greens stir fried with eggs, and a type of pork curry.
Wat Chedi Luang
Next up, a night time temple visit to Wat Chedi Luang and adjoining main hall Pra Wihan Luang. It was gorgeous! It was especially nice because there were very few other people there. Once 82 meters high, Wat Chedi Luang lost 30 meters of its height after an earthquake in 1554. It is still a huge structure and is still the tallest ancient building in Chiang Mai.
Street Food Scene
To round out the tour we ended with some street food at the north end of the Old City. If any of you are Anthony Bourdain fans you may recall the episode when he was in Chiang Mai and visited the stall of the “cowboy hat lady” to eat her braised pork leg over rice (Khao Kha Moo). Well, we went there and had some, and it was really tasty!
Dessert Time – We were getting stuffed!
The day wouldn’t be complete without some dessert of course. Lets start with some fruit. Mini pineapples, durian, and mango sticky rice. The pineapples were crisp, sweet and delicious; the mango rice sweet and rich; and the durian was, you guessed it, stinky! If you can get past the smell though, the durian was actually quite tasty. It reminded me of a liquor like Grand Manier and if it was covered in chocolate would taste like a cherry cordial. Pete loved it.
Just in case we hadn’t satisfied our sweet tooth we had one more thing to try. Rotee. Sometimes referred to as a pancake, rotee reminded me more of a danish made with very thin puff pastry dough. The thin dough is placed on a griddle then filled with things like bananas, cinnamon, chocolate, strawberry syrup, peanut butter, etc. I chose banana and cinnamon and Pete had banana and chocolate. We couldn’t finish it all because we were so stuffed, but definitely would have otherwise.
We had a really good time on this tour and certainly got our fill of different foods from the region. Pete now knows he loves durian and I need to learn how to make turmeric salad. Hmmm, perhaps a cooking class is in our future?
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