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|Chiang Mai : Dining|
To keep pace with the ever-increasing number of accommodations, Chiang Mai has a very large quantity and variety of restaurants. Not only northern Thai restaurants and food shops can be found in abundance, but there are also a variety of restaurants serving central, northeastern, and southern Thai cuisine, as well as Chinese, Muslim and international food. Due to the great amount of eating places, prices are very competitive. Moreover, Chiang Mai is full of day and night markets packed with numerous cheap food vendors. Therefore, visitors will surely have no problem in finding an ideal place to eat.
Northern Thai Food
Khantok in the Northern dialect means a wooden tray used for carrying dishes. Round in shape, it is made of wood, varnished or lacquered with 5 or 6 short legs to support it. At a khantok dinner, the host and the invited guests sit on the floor around the khantok, which serves 5 or 6 persons. The tradition of wearing northern mohom costume for a khantok dinner is no longer observed today.
The main dishes on the khantok usually comprise sticky rice, kaeng hang-le (northern-style pork curry), kaeng ho (spicy curry of bean vermicelli), kaeng om (spicy curry of entrails), sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage), lap (minced meat, half cooked and highly seasoned), nam phrik ong (chilli paste with minced pork and tomatoes), which usually goes with khaep mu (crispy pork rinds) and khao soi (chicken/ pork /beef curry soup with noodles). Eating with (the right) hand, they scoop up a handful of sticky rice from the bamboo basket and dip it into the curry or chilli paste and eat it.
After the meal, a dessert called khao taen, which is made of fried sticky rice covered with caramel, is served. Also served are khiyo cigars and fermented tea, which is chewed to help digestion. The khiyo cigar is made of shredded tobacco and ground tamarind bark (khiyo), which can reduce the strong odour of tobacco.
While dining, Northern music and classical dances are performed to entertain guests. One of the most popular is fon lep or fingernail dance, in which women dancers are dressed in Northern Thai style, wearing long pointed brass fingernails. The programme of dances and dishes may vary from place to place.
Visitors can have a khantok dinner at some hotels and restaurants which
organize this activity.