Friday 25 November 2011

10 Thai dishes to try other than Pad Thai

So you've been in Chiang Mai (or Thailand) for a few days, and you've already had your fill of your favourites - Tom Yum, Green Curry Chicken & Pad Thai. Ready to try something new? Here are some delicious dishes to try:

1. Pad See Eiu 


This is one of my favourite Thai lunch time dishes (one of many, lol). Pad = stir-fried; See Eiu = Soy Sauce. Wide rice noodles are stir-fried with garlic, chinese broccoli, meat (chicken, pork, etc), egg and dark soy sauce, which gives the noodles a rich, brown colour and sweetish taste. You can add chilli,  sugar, and/or fish sauce at the table to your liking. Sometimes served with a wedge of lime as well.

2. Khao Kha Moo 


Khao = rice ;  Kha Moo = Pork leg. Khao Kha Moo = Stewed pork leg on rice. Pork leg is boiled with sweet soy sauce, and various herbs and spices such as cinnamon, coriander seeds and star anise. The result is delicious, deeply flavoured, tender pork. Served on rice with gravy, chinese kale (or pickled vegies) and boiled eggs (optional).

3. Gai Yang  


Gai Yang = Grilled chicken. The can be found everywhere and lots of street stalls sell it. Usually eaten with sticky rice and Som tum (see below).

4. Som tum 

Som Tum (Papaya Salad) 
Som tum, or papaya salad. Very refreshing & tasty salad. Papaya is pounded together with palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chillis. Som tum is often eating with grilled chicken / pork, and is a good accompaniment for heavier and richer dishes.

5. Lad Na 

This is a noodle dish where noodles are pan fried first then poured over with a thick gravy made by simmering meat (pork, chicken, beef, seafood...) with chinese kale, garlic, pepper, soy bean paste, and sauces like oyster sauce, soy sauce. I like to add a bit of vinegar and chilli sauce (can be found on your table) to add a bit of kick. Look for vendors who make lad na fresh (not vendors who use pre-made gravy - not as nice!).

6. Khao Moo Dang 

Khao = Rice; Moo Dang = Red BBQ pork. Rice is served with sliced BBQ pork, and covered with sauce / gravy.

7. Khao Mun Gai 

"Kao Mun Gai"  

 Mun = fat; Gai = Chicken. Khao Mun Gai rice is cooked in chicken broth, resulting in delicious and fragrant rice, especially when served steaming hot. Chicken slices are then placed on the rice, and garnished with a couple of sprigs of coriander & some cucumber. Served with soy bean sauce (can be spicy).

8. Pad Krapraw


Krapraw = basil. So, this is stir-fried meat (usually minced chicken or pork) with basil, garlic, chillies, fish sauce and vegies. Very tasty! I love mine with a fried egg (runny).

9. Khao Soi (Northern specialty) 


These are noodles in a rich curry broth, topped with crispy noodles. You'll also get a plate of picked vegies and shallots to add to your noodles. You can usually choose between beef, chicken, or tender pork ribs. Don't miss it when you come to Chiang Mai!

10. Sai Ua - Spicy Chiang Mai Sausage (Northern specialty)


These are Northern Thai pork sausages filled with herbs and spices, grilled over charcoal. You can find these in any market in Chiang Mai. Suggestion: go on a sausage mission to find your favourite Sai Ua!
Sai Uas are usually eaten with sticky rice, green chilli dip, and pork crackling. are 10 dishes to try when you come to Chiang Mai (or Thailand). Do you have any suggestions? What are your favourite Thai dishes?

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Sunday 20 November 2011

Cafe Compassion - Vegetarian Cafe (Now closed)


What really caught my attention when I first read about Cafe Compassion is the name. A quick search on the net led me to their rather nice website that explains all about the philosophy behind this little cafe, and I must say, I'm impressed with the efforts being taken to be compassionate towards our planet, our community, and us patrons by providing us with healthy, great tasting food! It also made me feel good eating here - at least one choice I made today isn't so destructive to our world, even if I have to drive to the cafe!

Cafe Compassion itself is lovely, and is located in a quiet area, not far from the busy Nimmanhaemin Road. There's a nice little garden in front, which also doubles as Bicycle Parking. It seems the owners love bicycles and try to encourage cycling by offering free refills of water to cyclists who pass by whether they eat at the cafe or not. The open eating area is nice and cosy, with only around 8 tables.

The owners themselves work at the cafe, and we could meet Marissa, who makes a very affable hostess. The cafe serves Western style vegetarian food.

We chose two dishes to share. The food took quite a while to come out. I guess because everything is prepared fresh. However, all is forgiven when our dinner finally came!

The Gourmet Raw Lasagna not only looks fantastic, it tastes great too. It's amazing that healthy food could taste so good! Incidentally, this is a raw and vegan dish. Layers of marinated eggplants and zucchini are filled with pesto, marinara and cashew cheese. LOL I have no idea what cashew cheese is, but it looks a bit like cottage cheese in the lasagna. Served with a large side salad. Yum! 150 baht.


Dizzy Cheese Steak. Marissa tells us that this is a dish that many patrons love. It's described on the menu as: The Philly cheese steak "sibling", a white hoagie filled with leg of mushroom, green bell peppers, onion, New Zealand cheese pressed under the hot grill. I also had no idea what "cheese steak", or "hoagie" is, for that matter, but it sounded interesting. Dizzy Cheese Steak turned out to be a very delicious toasted sandwich filled with mushrooms (which looked, tasted, and even had a similar texture to beef!) and melted cheese. Wow, it was good! 135 baht.


...And for dessert, the Raw Keylime Pie, chosen, well, because I've never heard of it before! Apparently, it's an American dessert, and Cafe Compassion's raw version is made from avocado and lime in a coconut and sugar base. It turned out to be quite pleasant and refreshing. The filling has the texture of ice-cream and served quite cold (I guess it was straight from the fridge). I think it would have tasted even better if we let the pie sit for a bit before delving straight in. 115 baht.


The Verdict:
Lovely, comfortable cafe. Very friendly and relaxing ambience. Good range of interesting and fun sounding food and drinks.  It's also great that the cafe strives to be environmentally and socially responsible, which also makes me feel good to eat here and to support the cafe's endeavours. Very good food, even if they come out quite be patient! : D

The Rating:
The food: 8/10
The ambience: 8/10
The service: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10

Cafe Compassion
21 Sirimankalajan Soi 11
T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 222 379
Opens: Tue-Sat 11:30am-10pm; Sunday 11:30am-3pm (brunch only)

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Thursday 17 November 2011

Siew Li (ซิวหลี) - Minced Pork Noodles, Taechew style

Siew Li is a rather unassuming yet atmospheric noodle shop set in an old wooden house, right on the side of the rather busy Middle Ring Road. The walls are adorned with photos of the Royal family, and the tables are made of old style sewing machines (take a look under the table when you go!). Siew Li is always busy at lunch time, but the tables are well-spaced apart, so we are always comfortable...And very noticeably, the shop is very, very clean!

It's specialty? Taechew style "ba-chor" (minced pork) noodles. Delicious egg noodles with mince pork, cha-siew pork, dumpings, tofu, served with a wedge of lime. Stir well to mix the ingredients and the special sauce before eating!

Many other dishes (all very nice) are also available as well...

Yen-ta-fo is very good here. Don't be put off by the bright red colour! This is a fairly simple dish, but packed in flavours, predominantly spicy and sour.  The pink / red colour comes from ferment red tofu.

Siew Li also makes a great rendition of Guay Jub. Instead of your regular noodles, you get rolls of wide rice noodles in a rich brown broth. Ingredients thrown in include: pork blood cube, crispy pork, half a boiled egg, and various innards such as intestines and other things. Whilst I'm not really an innards person, Guay Jub here is so nice that I ate everything to the last drop of the soup...with one exception, the pork blood cube. I did take a bite of the blood, but I still find it kind of a weird concept! Served with a chilli/vinegar mixture.

And here is a very Taechew version of siew-mai. I know because my mum is Taechew and she said it's exactly the same as what she used to have when she was a kid. The siew-mai is soft (compared to the Cantonese version) and you eat it with crispy garlic and vinegar. The green "skins" are pandan leaf "flavoured", although both colours taste the same to me!

So there we have it, Siew Li Minced Pork Noodles Shop. A very clean eatery with plenty of atmosphere and great noodles! Prices are around 30-35 baht/dish.

Location: On 1st (Middle) Ring Road, Chiang Mai. Opposite Meechok Plaza.

Also check out the very cute Mee & Mee Coffee Shop next door. The coffee is very nice there!

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