Papaya salad

My Favourite Street of Chiang Mai Street Food

Dec 20, 2014 - Julie

Just like our favourite street food corner in Bangkok, we also found a favourite street for Chiang Mai street food, which was filled with amazing street food. Considering our two week stay in Chiang Mai, we usually got to know this street inside out. It had a great mix of classic northern Thailand dishes, Thai staples, as well as food stalls offering international dishes.

Street food in Chiang Mai
Street food in Chiang Mai

Khao Soi

Khao soi is a classic northern Thailand dish. I like to think of it as a mix between curry and noodle soup and fried noodles. The base consisted of a curry soup, though not as thick as regular curry. Egg noodles, the main ingredient, was present in two forms – deep-fried (crispy) and boiled (chewy). Other ingredients include pickled cabbage, chilli oil, as well as meat.

Khao Soi in Chiang Mai
Khao Soi in Chiang Mai

Like I said, khao soi seemed to be a mix of three different dishes. It had the flavour of curry without the heaviness. It had hearty and filling boiled noodles. It also had crispy noodles for some fun texture. I enjoyed it, though I’m sure I could eat it everyday.

Gaeng Hang Lay Moo

Also known as northern Thai pork curry, gaeng hang lay moo (we just refer to it as hang lay) was another classic northern Thailand dish we tried. This one was more like classic curry, a red curry. I liked the pork belly and the extra spicy kick. A great meal enjoyed with rice.

Gaeng Hang Lay Moo
Gaeng Hang Lay Moo

Papaya Salad

We tasted papaya salad for the first time in Bangkok, but it really became a staple in our diet in Chiang Mai. Our first impression was that it was similar to the mango salad we made in our Hoi An cooking class. The papayas were not the soft red ones we’re used to eating as fruit, they were like the green mangos – hard and green and cut into thin slices. Besides sliced papayas, the salad also includes beans, tomatoes, dried shrimps, and peanuts.

Papaya salad
Papaya salad

Typical of Thai cuisine, the papaya salad was a cacophony of flavours. Sour but sweet, spicy and salty, the taste transitions from one to another as you take the first bite, chew, swallow, and savour. Sourness was still the predominant flavour, which I found to be very appetizing, perfect for a salad. I also appreciated that it was an opportunity to eat fresh vegetables, which is rare in Asia as most vegetables are cooked.

Food To Go

All street food places in Thailand offer food to go, but it wasn’t until Chiang Mai that we really took advantage of this. Since we frequented this favourite street food street of ours, on days that we didn’t want to eat there, we could still enjoy the food elsewhere.

Carlos visited the same Pad Thai food stall for his shrimp Pad Thai. By the end of our time in Chiang Mai, everyone recognized him and had his food ready every night. This kind of customer loyalty reminded us of our fruit smoothies in Cambodia and we saw equally great rewards. The number of shrimp gradually doubled and increased in size (from 3 small shrimps to 6 large ones) within the span of two weeks. This food stall was also the best place to watch Pad Thai being cooked, even better than the ones in Bangkok.

Pad thai being cooked
Pad thai being cooked

Other dishes we regularly took to go include pork rice from a very popular Chinese food stall that literally looked like an assembly line producing massive amounts of food, as well as fried chicken perfect for a snack with some Chang beer from 7-Eleven.

Food to go in Chiang Mai
Food to go in Chiang Mai

Thai Jellys

We have seen many Thai dessert vendors that we’ve wanted to try, but because there has been so much good Thai food, our stomachs were already too full by dessert time. The night we walked through the Chiang Mai night bazaar, we passed by a lady selling the cutest jelly desserts that I couldn’t help but buy some.

Thai jellies
Thai jellies

It turns out we could either buy them individually or in a package where she includes one of every flavour. Of course we wanted to try them all. Coconut, taro, pumpkin… each one showcased a subtle version of the represented flavour. I liked them because they were not too sweet and not too sticky. We admittedly did not try many Thai desserts this time around, but looking forward to doing so the next time we pass through Thailand.

Our favourite street for street food in Chiang Mai
Our favourite street for street food in Chiang Mai

Our favourite street in Chiang Mai was every bit as good as our favourite corner in Bangkok. Everyday was the chance to try something new. We will be reminiscing about this place for many years to come because the variety, quality, prices, and convenience was unbeatable. Street food has simply been outstanding in Thailand.