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Somtam Search Continued ...

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So still no candidates here for real Isan-style somtam in Ch Mai? I've been shopping around for decent somtam here for years. My wife can make it better at home better than most stalls in Chiang Mai, so I've not tried any outside lately. One place that used to be fairly acceptable is/was the stall next to the famous place that sells fried chicken from an old van near the railway station, the place referred to locally as kai yaang rot fai. A woman next to the kai yaang place does OK somtam but her hours were pretty limited. Don't know if she's even still there.

For that matter has anyone found a reliable Isan restaurant in Ch Mai? I used to like Rot Saep Ubon on Charoen Prathet Rd but in the last year or two it took a dive way downhill -- must have lost a chef or changed management, who knows. They used to be packed with customers every single night, and that's no longer the case. I've tried other places advertising Isan and they've all been pretty dismal.

Chiang Mai really isn't very good for central Thai cuisine either. I only know of two restaurants in the city which can prepare central Thai consistently well. What the city can do well is northern Thai, obviously. There are a few decent khao tom places, a couple of good khao man kai spots, and then Mit Mai for Yunnanese is quite good if you know how to order Yunnanese cuisine (most Thais and farangs don't).

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My Thai, who is Issan, says try Gen Jan restaurant opposite Siam T.V. appliance store and UBC office. Don't know steet, but it is a main one.

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:o

You must be a real gormet, I usually buy mine from the lady inside the entrance to Kwan Viang, I've had it in Ubon, and Pattaya and it tastes as good to me. Of course mine is customized... extra spicy no crab and substitute extra tomatoes for the egg plant.

Hey, here is something to try, break up a packet of dry ramen noodles and mix it in.... great. Also try the Northern Thai style using the giant grapefruit instead of Papaya.

varierty and spice.

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I've tried the place opposite Siam TV, and was pretty disappointed with the food, not at all authentic Thai Isan, I'm afraid (with all respect to your Thai wife/gf).

Kwan Vieng is quite a distance to go for somtam! Might have to give it a whirl though, if it's good somtam it'd be worth the trip.

The local dish made with pomelo (som-oh) is actually a yam (mixed/tossed), not a tam (pounded). Great stuff though.

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hi'

on the same road that north-wheels, (chayapoom?), before the 7/11 a nice spicy place :D

an other way, anyone tried with green mango?

nice and sweet :o

francois

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an other way, anyone tried with green mango?

Yep, my favorite style. :o

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Maybe give the place oppositve Siam TV place another go... It's on my food-review web-log somewhere (See signature line). Went there with some seriously Isarn people and they loved it.. Be inquisitive and go with Isarn people and I doubt you will be dissappointed..

Also perhaps try the som tam stall on the old Lamphun road, past Nong Hoi intersection at the soi where the police station and bowling center are. (And of course the one mentioned before opposite Somphet market)

Cheers,

Chanchao

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Isan food in CM :

At Prathu Chiang-Mai, there's an Isan stall where on can get a decent Nam Tok Neua for 15 bahts.

On Rajdamnoen (soi 1), there is an Isan restaurant (run by a Chinese family) where they make a very good Tom Sep Neua (30 bahts). You can eat there or take away.

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hi'

My Thai, who is Issan, says try Gen Jan restaurant opposite Siam T.V. appliance store and UBC office. Don't know steet, but it is a main one.

my wife and I went there for a taste ... she just asked me "how do you know this place?"

my wife is from yasothon ... :D

so, we had a meal with dishes she knows well, and she knows I like too :D

comment : GREAT FOOD!

just a word from my loved one; no way to make as good as home, coz Chiang Mai people don't eat this much spicy (related to lab nua may be) ...

somtam is excellent, khaonio douei kap!

we had a bill for 3 people, less than 150baths :D

... forgot to say that the roof is isolated from heat wich makes the place a bit cooler than anyother place in open-air ...nice!

we'll go back sometime :D

francois

ps; no beers in the bill :o

Edited by francois

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Hey, here is something to try, break up a packet of dry ramen noodles and mix it in.... great. Also try the Northern Thai style using the giant grapefruit instead of Papaya.

varierty and spice.

also try it "Taxexile Style" by ditching the sticky rice and substituting with a big chunk of french bread to mop up the juices.

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After the glowing reviews of the place opp Siam TV here, I'll have to give it another try. Perhaps they've changed cooks recently? The night I went (several months ago), we ordered quite a variety of dishes, and as I recall the tom saep was OK, the laap not good at all, kai yaang too moist, somtam close to inedible, and other dishes we ordered well below average (compared to restos in Isan and compared to the old Rot Saep Ubon, before it slid downhill). If they have a new cook, or if I simply caught them on a bad night (tho in my experience if a restaurant has one bad night, they'll probably have more, so why risk going back?), then I'll be delighted to retract my opinion. :o

BTW I used to live in Isan (Mahasarakham), and have dined in every Isan province over 25+ years, so know the general run of dishes and how they ought to taste by local standards. Also my wife, a Thai chef who has owned and operated four Thai restaurants in the North and in Bangkok, thought the opp-Siam TV place wasn't very good either. Though she herself isn't from Isan, she knows Isan food as well as any Thai I've met, and I've seen that she cooks it well enough to please most native Isan-ites. (All irrelevant, tho, as I reserve my own palate as the final judge on what I like or don't like to eat)

I do notice that the crowd at this place tends to be kind of thin, nowhere near the business that Rot Saep Ubon used to get. That doesn't always mean something -- but in my experience it usually does.

But will reserve further judgement till I go again (tho my wife won't try it again, for her it's one strike, you're out!). Will also try the Ratchadamnoen Soi 1 place, thanks for the suggestion.

I'll post my reviews here!

Chanchao, checked your photo site and Kai Yaang Wichianburi sounds pretty promising, too. Also you mentioned not being able to find good Southern Thai food. I eat frequently at Phuket Laikhram, on Suthep Road, and find the southern style curries there pretty good (kaeng tai plaa; kaeng leuang; even the khiaw-waan is done southern-style, ie with khamin). Also PL seems to be the only place in the city that does khao yam, the classic breakfast favourite in our three, currently troubled, southernmost provinces. However my favourite southern-style dishes at PL are one-plate ones, the khao phat bo taek ('broken fishtrap' fried rice, with shrimp fat and bai makrut) and their unique kuaytiaw phat khee mao thaleh (seafood drunkard's fried rice noodles), done very much as it would be done in Trang or Phuket, which is to say not at all like 'normal' phat khee mao. Altho I've had better southern Thai food in southern Thailand (naturally), I'd certainly say the southern dishes at Phuket Laikhram are tastier and more authentic than any Isan food I've yet found in Chiang Mai.

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> After the glowing reviews of the place opp Siam TV here,

> I'll have to give it another try.

Let us know when you do, and/or what other place would be better for Isarn food, no matter how big or small it is!

> Chanchao, checked your photo site and Kai Yaang Wichianburi

> sounds pretty promising, too.

Yup.. though I went back during the height of the Songkran battle and at that time got grilled chicken that was on the dry side. Hate it when that happens when I go by myself it's excellent but then bring friends and it's so-so.. :-( When I go back there I will select the chicken myself from the ones they're grilling. Don't know how long running the place will be (in that location), but again, if there are other grilled chicken places that feature *lots of grilled chickens* being grilled fresh all the time then I'm interested. Like I wrote in that review, for some reason there aren't that many that really turn over a lot of grilled chickens.

> Also you mentioned not being able to find good Southern Thai food. I eat

> frequently at Phuket Laikhram, on Suthep Road, and find the southern

> style curries there pretty good (kaeng tai plaa; kaeng leuang; even the

> khiaw-waan is done southern-style, ie with khamin).

Yes I agree.. I eat there a lot myself; I posted about it with some pictures on that fotopages site a while back. It's probably on page 2 or 3 now.

> Also PL seems to be the only place in the city that does khao yam, the classic

> breakfast favourite in our three, currently troubled, southernmost provinces.

Khao yam? ! ! ? Will try that. I think I tried it once at some hypermarket food center which is of course not the best place to form an opinion about just about anything. I seriously dig the southern style khanom jeen nam ya Phuket there.

> However my favourite southern-style dishes at PL are one-plate ones, the khao

> phat bo taek ('broken fishtrap' fried rice, with shrimp fat and bai makrut) and

> their unique kuaytiaw phat khee mao thaleh (seafood drunkard's fried rice

> noodles), done very much as it would be done in Trang or Phuket, which is to say

> not at all like 'normal' phat khee mao.

A revisit is in order! ;-) Ah, look at the time, 10 minutes to noon, perfect. :o

Speaking of the South.. I recently went to Malaysia and went with a friend who is a bit of a conaisseur and can go completely ape over good food, especially the Chinese-Malaysian Bak Kut Teh dish. (Pork meat stew/soup with Chinese spices). I've found it in some serisously Southern THai provinces (NArathiwat et al) but never more Northern than that.. Which is strange as it's more Chinese than anything else, and there's no shortage of Chinese in Thailand (or anywhere, for that matter.. ;-)

It's pronounced the same in Thai: Ba' kut' tae+ (low-low-rising rone).

It's slightly reminiscent of Khaa Moo or 'Khai/Moo Palo' dishes in Thailand, but these are mostly low quality fast food in Thailand, Bak Kut Teh often uses very good meats.

Cheers,

Chanchao

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My Thai, who is Issan, says try Gen Jan restaurant opposite Siam T.V. appliance store and UBC office.  Don't know steet, but it is a main one.

I had somtam there this afternoon...Excellent.

I had the tai (southern) style....Interestingly, this is also known as Bangkok Style, but to CM people, anyone south of Sukothai is considered 'from the south'... :D

This style might be better referred to as, Wimp Style, as it is fairly sweet and missing the dangerous ingredients of plaa ra and pu chem.

Anyway, it was just the way I like it. Lots of malagaw, plenty of green beans, and lots of peanuts (tua lisong). They even left the already-squeezed lime pieces, which certainly did not detract from anything. Delicious.

Oh, after eating, I spent the next 1/2 hour on the toilet :o

Life is all about balance. Ya gotta except some bad with the good :D

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On the topic of Isarn food, anyone try "Isarn Chaiyaphoom" on the WAY back end of Chang Klan road, shortly before meets up with Aom Muang road and the bridge over the river there? (Southern ring road)? Only open in the evenings by the looks of it.

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I ate a lot of bak kut teh when I lived in Malaysia for a year during the 80s. Noticed a couple places selling it in Phuket old town recently, great stuff. I've seen it at a few food centres in BKK, too (just this afternoon, on the bottom floor of Central Chidlom).

In Singapore bak kut teh is all over the place; my impression is it's a Hokkien dish and you get a lot of Hokkien places in Phuket, Trang, S'pore, Penang, etc.

Moving on to another dish popular in the south (and all over thailand for that matter), I had incredible Hainanese chicken rice (khao man kai) at a famous place in old town Phuket called Kota Khao Man Kai. Two different sauces, rice just right, chicken tender, etc.

My favorite khao man kai place in CH Mai has long been Kiat Ocha near the Three Kings. But on a visit there last week, I noticed they had a different guy slicing the chicken than they normally have, and it wasn't as good. They say even the slicing of the chicken can have quite an effect on texture, so I wondered if that was it. Love the mix-your-won sauce there. I've eaten there many times so the one let-down won't keep me away -- I figure post-Songkran week is never a good time for restaurants, with staff running off, etc.

I had the 'original' dish on Hainan Island a decade or two ago, pretty different from the way it is here in Thailand. Singapore & Malaysia (nasi ayam) do it a little differently too. It'd be interesting to trace the history of all those little changes ...

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