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Phad krapao kai / Chicken w. Thai basil and chillies
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Phad krapao kai

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Wednesday, 23-Jun-2004 00:00
The 'Everything' restaurants / Ahaan Taam Sang
Just from looking through these pages you may conclude there are many places to eat around Chiang Mai. In reality I haven't even scratched the surface yet.. :-S Aside from writing about individual restaurants, I especially enjoy singling out one particular dish, style or category of food and then pick one restaurant or food-stall that I think does a particularly good job of it. Doing so leaves out at least one main category of restaurant, namely those that don't do one particular dish or style, but do 'everything'. 'Everything'-restaurants and food stalls are called 'Taam Sang' in Thai, which literally means 'made to order'. And they're all over the place!

Some will be an actual restaurant, like a shophouse, others will be food stalls with some tables and plastic chairs on the sidewalk. Some open only during the day, others only at night. Some actually have menus, others just list a bunch of random dishes on signs. Very few have English language menus. This may make them a challenge for the tourist, but by all means try them, especially the ones that look popular! Communications may be difficult, and shop owners may know a grand total of 3 English words: "Fried Rice" or "Fried Noodle". Also they may think that this is all that foreigners want to try, thinking that no foreigner can eat spicy food. So they may need some encouragement if you want to get dishes that are more interesting. You could try pointing at the ingredients on display near the cooking area, or you could point at dishes that other people in the restaurant ordered. Or you could try your luck in Thai language.. One of these days I should get around to making a 'Generic menu of Thailand' with loads of typical dishes on there in English and also in Thai writing.. :-D

Some tourists feel overly worried about food safety at the smaller places. Personally I've been sick from food twice in ten years, and both times this was at 'proper' well established restaurants! Still, when picking a place to eat it's good advice to pick a place that looks busy, if not for safety then at least because the food will most likely be very good as well! And, as many places of this kind feature an open cooking area, it's clear for all to see what happens to your food before it lands on your plate.

For the pictures with this entry I will not bother explaining where this particular place is located; there are so many similar places, often in little side lanes and alleys, no point in seeking out this particular place. I will add a listing of typical Thai dishes that you would find at these places soon(ish).

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