Sometimes I'll tease Nut about moving further north where the weather is cooler, Chiang Rai for instance, but she always looks aghast and shoots back, "But where would we eat in Chiang Rai?" There are some good restaurants in Chiang Rai, sure, but the food choices here are vastly better and more varied. And we're both foodies so this is an important reason to stay where we are.
This post is not about high-end dining. We frequent neighborhood restaurants and a few special street food vendors both here in Nong Hoi and north of us in the city proper. There are certainly many excellent restaurants in town but we like to get a quality meal for between 40-150 baht ($1-5 USD) per person, which is easy in Chiang Mai if you know where to look. Plus, the few times we've spent the big bucks in a fine restaurant the food has been not as good as what can be had from these tiny shops. It helps that Nut can spot a good eatery from a mile away. She's led me to some very fine eating and introduced me to foods I would never have discovered on my own.
I'll start with Nana Bakery right here in Nong Hoi. I adore bread and during my first few years in Thailand searched high and low for good bread. Thais aren't big on bread so a good loaf is hard to find but luckily Chiang Mai has a large expat population and Nana caters to it. The place is a goldmine, always busy, and always expanding. We were able to buy Nana croissants in Mae Sariang last month! They make various artisanal breads, buttery croissants and pastries and, speaking as a former sourdough bread baker, produce the best sourdough bread in Chiang Mai possibly in all of Thailand. They also offer a farang style breakfast for under $2 that's hard to beat for value because along with the eggs and bacon comes a latte or pot of tea and a freshly baked croissant. Nana Bakery is located near the junction of Mahidon Road and the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road. (N18.75770° E99.00851° Open Street Map)
|Nana Bakery Sourdough Rye - 55 baht ($1.57 USD)|
|Basic Nana breakfast including latte and croissant - 65 baht ($1.85 USD)|
Our favorite place to eat noodles is at Malee Noodles. They have four shops scattered around Chiang Mai but there's one right up the street from us at the 89 Plaza so Nut and I eat lunch there at least three times a week. Their Sukhothai tom-yum style noodles are fantastic. Malee at 89 Plaza is at (N18.75203° E99.00875°), and here on Open Street Map). Another location more convenient for tourists is in the old city on Arak Road just inside and adjacent to the moat, here (N18.7900387, E98.978457) and shown on Open Street Map. For more info about noodles see the links at the bottom of this post under Extras. They're open from 8 am until about 4 so it's not a spot for dinner.
|Malee Sukhothai style kuaytiaw - 40 baht|
|Wang Sing duck noodles|
I have another little story about this shop. We had some visitors from Homer last year, Amon and Laryssa, and we brought them here for dinner one evening. I was going on, as I tend to do, about the great food we were about to eat and Amon says, "We saw an Anthony Bourdain show about eating in Chiang Mai and this place was on it." On that show, he told me, the cowgirl chef revealed the secret of her gravy. "It's the same gravy we started with. We just add more pork leg and seasonings every morning." Truth or fiction? I dunno, but the gravy is awesome. I spent a couple of weeks in Udon Thani last spring and tried the khao kha moo at a few shops. It was just terrible! Once you've eaten here there's nowhere to go but downhill. Located on Maninopharat Road just west of Chang Phuak Gate in the Torung Chang Phuak Market, (N18.79588° E98.98549°, Open Street Map ), it's open from 5 pm until 2 am daily. If you want to get some just head to the night market near the Chang Phuak Gate on the north side of the moat and look for throngs of people mobbing a certain little food cart. That's the place!
|Chang Phuak Khao Kha Moo for two, with boiled egg and pickled greens (50 baht, $1.40 USD)|
|The justifiably famous lady I call the "Cowgirl" serves up some of the best food in Chiang Mai|
|Google Streetview Thalat Torung Chang Phuak|
|Suki hang goong- 40 baht ( $1.15)|
|Chang Phuak Suki Shop - just a few steps west of the Khao Kha Moo Shop|
Like so many others in the night market category, the kitchen is set up each afternoon in front of a Michelin tire store after it closes. In fact, Nut noticed that the cooks also work in the tire store during the day. I love fried oysters the way the Thais do it. Known as hoi tod (หอยทอด) I first had them in Bangkok. I could eat them every day except they're fried in oil and are much too rich to eat very often. This shop doesn't really have a name and the menu is unfortunately only available in Thai so you'll have to ask for your food by gesture or some other way. Hoi tod is something that I've tried at other shops but usually with disappointing results.
|Google Streetview - east end of Bamrung Buri Road|
|Fried oyster plate|
I'll close this edition of Eating in Chiang Mai with a visit to the lovely Sala Cafe. This is a place I discovered on one of my many mapping excursions in the rural town of Mae Rim just north of the big city. The gardens surrounding the cafe are simply gorgeous and there are tables scattered here and there among them. Sala Cafe is located on a small, out of the way rural road. How people find it is beyond me but in the four years we've been coming it has grown increasingly popular.
|Cafe Sala entrance|
|Garden salad with sliced roast pork, latte|
Sala Cafe is in Mae Rim at N18.90453° E98.92189° near the ritzy Four Seasons Resort. See it on OpenStreetMap here or on Google Maps here. They're open daily from 8 am to 6 pm.
|Sala Cafe mango cheesecake and a divine latte|
Thanks for reading.
My earlier story about Eating in Chiang Mai was posted back in 2012 before I got so involved with Open Street Map that I quit blogging and stopped doing almost everything else too.
Nana Bakery has a branch on Chiang Khian Road here (N18.8121189, E98.9579347) but I don't think they serve food there.
Here is a complete and well-written guide to noodle dishes many of which we enjoy often. It explains what Sukhothai and tom-yum style noodles are all about and much, much more.
Part of a blog about Thai food explains in depth the 4-part condiment set, kruang bprung, for seasoning kuaytiaw, here.