Depending on the location and history of each region, different Thai cuisines have different tastes and cooking techniques. Other culinary influences, unique ingredients, lifestyles, and cooking methods all contribute to differentiating and defining each regional cuisine.
The cuisine of Northern Thailand is very different from that of Bangkok or even your neighborhood Thai restaurant. In addition to a preference for pork, vegetables, and all things deep-fried, the food of the north is a reflection of the area’s seasonality and relatively cold temperature.
Unfortunately, it can be very challenging to find genuine regional cuisine in northern Thailand. There aren’t many restaurants outside of Chiang Mai and the other main cities in the area that provide northern-style food, and the majority of real Thai cuisine is sold from stalls in “to go” bags.
Thailand’s food is diverse, with superb meals that rate highly for flavor and taste. And if that weren’t enough, each of Thailand’s regions has a distinctive range of foods that are each more distinctive than the others. While Northern Thailand is rich in old traditions, it also offers a vast selection of mouthwatering dishes with an abundance of spices, garnishes, meats, veggies, and curries upon curries that are not only flavorful but also visually appealing. For food enthusiasts, this area of Thailand is a huge party where they may try as many different condiments and pairings as they wish.
Nam Prik Ong
Nam Prik Ong is a delectable pork tomato chili dip that is frequently served with a larger platter of long beans, cabbage, okra, cauliflower, and other vegetables. While boiled eggs, sausages, and fried pork cracklings (kap moo) are among the most popular additions to Nam Prik Ong, vegetables are the most frequently used ingredient.
The flavor of Nam Prik Ong is similar to that of a very thick spaghetti sauce but without the usual spices from Europe. The Thai characteristics found in fish sauce, soy sauce, and garlic, which give this dish its flavor, are absent from this dish. The ideal appetizer to experience Chiang Mai cuisine is Nam Prik Ong!
Khao Soi Gai
The main poster dish for northern Thai cuisine is unquestionably this meal of egg noodles in a curry broth. It includes egg noodles, chicken thighs (or beef), and a nest-like tangle of crunchy fried noodles on top of a warm curry broth with a coconut base. It is a dish that is readily enjoyed by everyone and is served with sliced shallots, chili oil, and lime wedges for a refreshing zing. Muslim variants can also include beef or lamb.
Prik Nam Noom Kab Moo
For tourists traveling to Thailand’s north, this is the go-to and sure-to-please memento. Crispy pork cracklings (kab moo) and green chili dip (nam prik noom) go together like peanut butter and jelly, making them the perfect afternoon snack. The thick dip’s gently spicy flavor balances the irresistible saltiness of the cracklings. It is made with roasted green chili peppers, garlic, shallots, and cloves. The dip goes well with fresh veggies, either raw or cooked.
Mango Sticky Rice
Mango sticky rice is arguably the most popular Thai dessert in existence. There is no way you can visit Chiang Mai without sampling this dish because it is so well-known. As the name implies, it consists of sticky rice with coconut sauce and sweet, fresh mango.
This is a common sight in the Chang Puak Market stalls. In all honesty, this meal may be found as a dessert in any Chiang Mai restaurant!
The carpaccio, or tartare, of Thai cuisine is this raw beef salad. Laab dib, a cuisine that is popular in both the northern and northeastern or Isaan regions, employs comparable components to the laab, such as fish sauce, mint, and chilli. The use of raw chopped and ground beef, together with the inclusion of boiling organs and a splash of blood makes a difference. On top of that, make sure to only order it at reputed restaurants that use a clean source of beef. This powerful and hot appetizer is not for the timid. Give it a try if none of this makes you uneasy.
A typical make-your-own finger food is miang kham. Both eating it and making it are enjoyable. When you order Miang Kham, you’ll notice that it includes fresh betel leaves, delicious syrup, and a variety of fillings. Shallots, red or green chiles, garlic, lime, ginger, dried shrimp, or roasted coconut are the most frequently seen ingredients.
Place the fillings inside the betel leaf wherever you desire, drizzle the sweet syrup on top, roll it up, and you’re ready to go! Miang Kham requires some initial effort, but it’s well worth it to experience this delicious Chiang Mai meal.
In Chiang Mai, Sai Oua is unquestionably a must-try dish and is best enjoyed as an appetizer. It is a pork sausage seasoned with various herbs and spices, dried chilies, shallots, and garlic. It’s a Chiang Mai delicacy from the north, resembling northeastern-style sausages but with a distinctive flavor that’s more meaty and loaded with herbs and chiles.
Sai Oua is the ideal snack with a bowl of rice, on its own, or even wrapped in a lettuce leaf. Whatever method you choose to experience Sai Oua, make sure to eat something before leaving!
Gaeng Ho (Stir-fry Curry Glass Noodles)
The word “Ho,” which means “put together” in the northern Thai dialect, is used to produce this stir-fry dish in order to prevent food waste. Glass noodles are stir-fried with leftover curry (often hung lay), kaffir lime leaves, bamboo shoots, lemongrass, and pork. Modern gaeng ho incorporates fresh ingredients for increased nutritional value and is dry but powerful in flavor.
One of the top three favorite cuisines is Thai, along with Indian, Japanese, and Vietnamese street food. Since I’ve visited Thailand four or five times, I’ve had plenty of chances to enjoy Thai food all across the nation. It includes gluten-free, vegetarian, and healthy options and is a personal guide to the best Thai food in Thailand.
Compared to other parts of Thailand, northern Thai cuisine is very different and heavily influenced by Burmese cuisine. Northern Thai food is more subdued than the spicy, heavily spiced cuisine of the North-Eastern (Isaan) region.
History, culture, geography, climate, and migratory patterns have all had an impact on the distinctive flavor of northern Thai cuisine. It is as much of a highlight of a trip to Chiang Mai as temple hopping and is referred to as Lanna cuisine after the Lanna Kingdom. The northern Thai cuisine is undoubtedly a good enough excuse for a trip north for a food connoisseur.