Now that we're settled into Chiang Mai we figured it would be the perfect chances for us to both try eating Northern Thai cuisine (specifically a Khantoke Set Feast: ขันโตก) for dinner on hot and humid evening. Having tried Northern Thai food before, I was interested to see what Audrey would think of it trying it for the first time.
This kind of special meal takes time to prepare, so we placed our order for this feast a day in advance booking a specific time to arrive. Luckily for us, the only work involved would be trying our best not to get overly anxious in anticipation of the meal.
After a long bicycle ride from our Thai apartment in Chiang Mai, we arrived at the restaurant and our food was almost instantly ready.
We started off with a delicious coconut based appetizer soup known locally as Khao soi (or khao soy) featuring fried noodles, vegetables and regular noodles. Khao Soi is one of the most popular dishes in Northern Thailand and this was the first time I tried it as an appetizer as opposed to being the main course. My biggest concern, at the time, was to ensure we didn't get too full before all of the other dishes arrived.
After finishing our appetizers, next came our main courses which were delivered on a large wooden tray and consisted of many dishes including sticky rice, hang-le curry (Burmese styled curry), ho curry, khae curry, om curry (spicy curry of entrails), sai-ua (Northern Thai-styled sausage), lap (minced meat, half cooked and highy seasoned), man phrik ong (a sauce of minced pork, tomatoes and chillies) which usually goes with khaep mu (crispy pork rinds) along with a delicious banana coconut milk rum like dessert.
We didn't realize at the time but actually eating the sticky rice with your right hand is the way it is done locally; glad, we figured that one out on our own! We both love to eat with our hands so we just started digging right in. Now that we've been living and traveling in Asia for a while, eating with our hands - or with chopsticks - almost feels more normal than having a fork and knife in our hands. It's strange how (yet fascinating) how quickly you adapt to your surroundings when you just dive right in and try your best to live/behave like a local.
We came hungry and prepared to feast but - given how generous the portions were - we couldn't finish the whole thing; it's too bad we didn't have a few other (or a whole host) friends to help us tackle this massive Northern Thai offering.
Our entire meal cost only 300 Baht ($10 USD) and was worth every single penny or should I say Baht :P Honestly, I can't think of a $10 meal I've ever had in my life that offered better value than this one.
When visiting Northern Thailand be sure to deviate from the typical Pad Thai and Green Curries and try out the regional dishes native to this area:
The main food of the northern people is glutinous rice. It is their staple for all the 3 daily meals. It is cooked in the morning and taken to the field in a bamboo container for lunch, unless the field is near the house. When travelling to the North of Thailand, do not miss khantok (or khantoke) dinner. Khantok in the Northern dialect means a wooden tray used for carrying dishes. Round in shape, it is made of teak wood, varnished or lacquered with 5 or 6 legs to support it. A Buddhist monk in the North is credited with the making of the first khantok. Then its use became popular and a dinner where a khantok is used is known as a khantok dinner sticky rice, hang-le curry (Burmese-styled curry), ho curry, khae curry, om curry (spicy curry of entrails), sai-ua (Northern Thai-styled sausage), lap (minced meat, half cooked and highy seasoned), man phrik ong (a sauce of minced pork, tomatoes and chillies) which usually goes with khaep mu (crispy pork rinds), and khao soi (noodles in curry soup).
After the meal, a dessert called khao taen, which is made of fried sticky rice covered with caramel, is served: thaiwaysmagazine.com
This is part of our Travel in Thailand series. We're making a series of videos showcasing Thai culture, Thai arts, Thai foods, Thai religion and Thai people.
All photos and video taken by Samuel Jeffery (Nomadic Samuel) and Audrey Bergner (That Backpacker).
This video features the song 'Electodoodle' from Kevin Macleod available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Commercial license.
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