Eye on Thai: Authentic Feasts in Northern Thailand
Tumultuous Thailand has been a tourist hot-spot for the past five years, emerging as an affordable destination, as the world peaks into a competitive melting pot of global opportunities. Exploring the curiosities and intricacies of a new social climate is stomach dropping and exciting, even if you’ve broached the perks of Phuket or dipped into the kaleidoscope of contradiction on the magnificent Koh Samui, Thailand still has more to offer you, beyond the modern threshold of Bangkok and the bustling markets lining cultural mecca, Chiang Mai. Travelling makes one hungry, fairly starving actually, and finding brilliant places to eat under a haze of curious characters and scrolling languages can be an overwhelming experience at the best of times. So where and what should one eat? Follow our foodie trail from meal to meal, stopping to sup on a bowl of Khao Soi and wiping the sweat of sweltering adventure from your brow, before setting off again, ever hungry for new gastronomic delights.
Though many travelers find their feet pausing to uncover the historic attractions and religious effigies of Northern Thailand, Chiang Mai obscures a roiling cuisine culture embodied by thriving street markets and wheeling vendors, preparing their fare on portable hot plates and cutting boards. If you like it hot, herbal and gusty, Sai Ua will not only blow your mind, but beat your tastebuds into submission with its cacophony of flavours. Minced pork blended with lemongrass, cilantro, shallot, black pepper and galangal, sauced with a vicious chilli paste and contained in the thinnest of sausage skins. You’ll be begging for a side of mash to take the sting out of these bangers, but beware, you won’t find a side condiment remotely similar anywhere. And thank goodness, for there is nothing more authentic than a freshly spliced sausage, from the steamy stalls of Chiang Mai. If you’re desperate for a cooling texture, try a bag of sticky rice to absorb some of the blow – Those with spice intolerance should avoid, avoid, avoid.
Bangkok is a befuddling place of beauty, progress and poverty, jumbled together from historical buildings and sky scraping glass giants, positioning the city as the next commercial nucleus. If you love to shop, morning, noon and night, Bangkok is your city, boasting countless world class complexes and a few surprises to keep you guessing.
Picking up nick nacks to take home is hungry work, and Rod Ded Isan Restaurant believes in full bellies, large servings and nuanced seasonings. A fast five minute trek from the BTS station, this established restaurant has graced the notice of many powerful food critic, pleasing their cultured palates and being kind to the wallets of everyday diners. Serving up a menu of traditional somtam meals, this cafeteria style hall of hot, delicious food will sure to please every time, earning a consistent four stars and awarded a Certificate of Excellence on Trip Advisor.
And Where Not to Eat?
As with any café, stall or restaurant around the world, it is a game of Russian Roulette until one accumulates enough experience and a laundry list of active favourites. There are some basic rules you can keep in mind before you leave, to avoid the cramping of an unhappy stomach and other side effects. Don’t eat anything cold or barely warm; you deserve the hottest, freshest Thai fare. Stay away from peeled fruit and tropical salads, as tasty as they are, nothing good will come of indulging; drink bottled water, brush your teeth with bottled water, make your tea with bottled water.