12 best specialties in Chiang Mai
Do you know that, apart from the exquisite temples and the historical sites, its various attractive specialties are also one of the main reasons why tourists come to Chiang Mai?
If this surprises you, don’t worry because Thai Unika has a list of the 10 best specialties in Chiang Mai just for you.
12 Best specialties in Chiang Mai
1. Khao Soi
Khao Soi is the first dish we want to name when talking about the specialty of Chiang Mai because of its worldwide reputation
As you might already know, Khao soi is a flavorful curry noodle with coconut milk. The noodles used in Khao Soi are soft flat egg noodles, combine with rich, savory curry soup to create a small heaven in a bow. As you can see from the picture, on top of this dish is a handful of fried pieces of noodles to add crunchiness to the food. Khao Soi is usually served with scallions, pickle cabbages, a slice of lime, and chili paste on the side so customers can adjust to their taste.
Khao Soi is normally cooked with chicken or beef but there are also some places that have Khao Soi with pork or even seafood. This is definitely one of the must-try specialties when coming to Chiang Mai.
2. Sai oua
Another famous dish of Chiang Mai is Sai oua, a special pork sausage with a touch of herbs and vegetables.
Sai oua is a “Northern style” sausage that you can find anywhere in the street of Chiang Mai. It is an ideal appetizer but people can also eat it with rice or noodle. The ingredients to make Sai Oua is ground pork, scallions, garlic, pepper, lemongrass, and other spices and herbs. One important ingredient is chili paste or chili powder to add some heat to this dish.
Therefore, if you can’t stand spiciness, maybe this sausage will seem a little bit scary. Right after the first bite, you will sense an explosion of flavors with various aromas and that’s when the heat kick in. Sai Oua might be too much spicy for some tourists, but in our opinion, this fiery sausage is worth a try, so make sure you have at least a bite before heading home!
3. Nam Prik Ong
Among all the northern-style chili dips, Nam Prik Ong is the most well know and one of a dish you don’t want to miss when visiting Chiang Mai.
Nam Prik Ong is a tasty Thai pork-and-tomato chili sauce. Compare to its neighbor, Nam Prik Num (green chili dips), which will leave your tongue burned for a while, Nam Prik Ong is slightly milder. This thick dip is made with tomato, ground pork, coriander, spring onion, and dried chilies.
You can find Nam Prik Ong being served with vegetables such as cabbage, cauliflower, eggplant or with boiled egg, crispy pork skin. Dipping anything in this sauce can boost its taste to the best.
4. Khanom Bua Loi
Other than the savory dish, we also want to mention Khanom Bua Loi, a sweet creamy treat in Chiang Mai.
Khanom Bua Loi is Thai glutinous rice balls in coconut cream. Bua Loi in Thai means “floating lotus”. Looking at the picture, you can clearly see why it has this name. This dish can be considered quite simple with just 2 main parts, the chewy tapioca, and the creamy coconut milk. The rice balls are made from glutinous rice flour. They are boiled before being added to the warm coconut milk.
Although simple, Bua Loi’s taste is chewy, creamy, and elegant just like its name. If you have a chance, don’t hesitate to try this sweet dessert of Thailand.
5. Kanom Jeen or Khanom Chin
Talking about the tasty treats of Chiang Mai, we can’t forget to mention Kanom Jeen (or they also call it, Khanom Chin).
Kanom Jeen can be considered the spaghetti of Thailand because of its flexibility to many kinds of sauces. Kanom Jeen is thin fermented rice vermicelli and is a popular street dish in Chiang Mai. You will find various restaurants that have big pots of various broths that can be added to this noodle, such as chicken in coconut curry soup, fish balls in coconut-green chili curry, a sweet chilly paste made with shrimp and coconut milk and the famous Kanom Jeen namya.
Kanom Jeen namya is noodles with a luscious fish curry sauce. This broth is made of fish, ginger, garlic, shrimp paste, peppers, coconut milk, fish sauce, and other Asian herbs and spices. It is an iconic dish of Southern Thailand so there is no reason to not try this tasty spaghetti of Thailand.
6. Tam khanun
Tam khanun is a perfect Salad dish to have as an appetizer before tasting other delicious Chiang Mai specialties.
Tam Khanun’s main ingredient is unripe jackfruits so it can be considered a spicy jackfruit salad.
Because the young, green jackfruit has a bitter flavor, they boil it to tender to get rid of some bitterness. The boiled jackfruit pieces then being shredded and stir-fried with a chili-shrimp paste sauce and a handful of herbs, depending on the cook.
You can find this dish in fancy restaurants, markets, food stands in the street, or even make it at home. Tam khanun has various versions with some added ingredients including peanuts, minced pork, pork rinds, tomato, or deep-fried garlic and chile.
7. Som Tam or Som Tum
Speaking of salad, another kind of salad you might want to try in Chiang Mai besides Tam Khanun is Som Tam.
Som Tam (or Som Tum) is a common appetizer in any Chiang Mai restaurant and also can be found on any road in Chiang Mai. It is a green papaya salad with an interesting taste. The shredded papaya is pounded with chili, lime juice, roasted peanuts, sugar, fish sauce, and other ingredients.
You can tell from the ingredients, Som Tam has a balanced flavor of nutty sweet, sour, and spicy. Combined with the crunchy texture of unripe papaya and peanut, Som Tam is perfect for a light healthy meal during the day.
8. Miang Kham
If you are expecting a nice, relaxed, and slow dinner while chatting with a friend, why don’t try Miang Kham, a do-it-yourself finger food?
Miang Kham is a bite-sized wrapped snack, an ideal dish to start the meal. Order Miang Kham and you will receive a dish with separate ingredients, and betel leaves. The fillings are diverse from each restaurant. Overall, it might be a bunch of dried shrimp, roasted coconut, fresh chilies, diced ginger, diced garlic, some slides of lime, and a bow of sweet sauce on the side.
You can wrap it however you like, maybe just with some of the fillings but we recommend trying everything in one bite to get the full taste of this special treat.
9. Gaeng Hoh
Another tasty dish of Chiang that we want to present to you is Gaeng Hoh, a mixed curry dish with various ingredients.
Gaeng Hoh literally means “All mixed up” in the Thai language. This is a stir-fried glass noodle and curry dish that was originally made from kitchen leftovers. However, nowadays, Gaeng Hoh is made with fresh ingredients. The chef will have the base sauce of fermented bamboo and some types of curry paste such as red curry, hang lay curry, kae curry. The glass noodle is then stir-fried in the pan with this sauce, shrimp paste, belly porks, a variety of vegetables, herbs, and spice.
This dish is definitely a must-try when coming to Chiang Mai because of its rich and diverse flavor.
10. Khao Kha Moo
After naming so many noodles dishes, here is Khao Kha Moo, a plate of rice with slow-braised tasty pork leg.
Khao Kha Moo is perfect for staving tourists after a long day wandering around the city. The pork leg is braised and simmered in a unique sauce for 4 to 6 hours. You can imagine, the pork leg is so well-cooked that it becomes tender and immerges with the flavor of the soup. This giant pork meat is then served on top of warm rice. You might also find a poached egg, pickled greens, and garlic chili sauce on the side to complete the taste of this savory dish.
From the first bite, the meat is so tender that we can say, it melted in the mouth, releasing its savory delicious flavor, a perfect combination to the rice. Khao Kha Moo can satisfy the most hungry customers and make some tourists come back for more.
11. Larb Kua
Larb Kua is a dish that you can also find in the northernest of Thailand. But coming to Chiang Mai, the North version of this dish will give you an extra spicy flavor.
Larb Kua is a pan-fried spicy meat salad and it goes perfectly with warm Thai sticky rice. To make Larb Kua. First, you will have to choose a protein base, which can be fish, pork, chicken, or beef. Then the meat is chopped and mixed with blood chunks and innards, and they go all together into a hot oil pan to have a quick sir-fry. Dried chili as well as a spoonful of herbs and other species also being added to the pan.
Although it might sound scary and strange with animal blood and innards, this dish is also one of the signatures of North Thai. So you can consider if you want to try Larb Kua or not.
12. Hor Mok
Last but not least, we want to introduce Hor Mok, a delicious Chiang Mai street food snack.
Hor Mok, or Thai fish custard is a savory curry fish paste served with coconut milk in a small banana-leaf cup. To make these little treats, the chef has to put the fish, coconut milk, curry paste, fish sauce, eggs, and some spices into the processor and blend until smooth. This custard mixture is then poured into the banana leaves cup and then prepared to be steamed. After about 15 minutes, Hor Mok is set. Lastly, top the custard with some thickened coconut milk, and this Chiang Mai dish is ready to be served.
Eating Hor Mok, you will sense a complex texture of soft, creamy, sweet, and savory. It would be a light afternoon treat so you won’t be hungry before dinner.
We’ve come to the end of this list. Now you knew some of the specialties of Chiang Mai. If you still wondering where to eat these dishes, visit our list of the 10 best local restaurants in Chiang Mai and find out!
Have a taste of the speciaties in Chiang Mai trip
We hope this guide may has given you a glimpse of the unique and delicious cuisine that Chiang Mai has to offer. The food in this city is truly unforgettable, and if you’re inspired to experience these dishes for yourself, why not book a trip to Chiang Mai ?
Here at Thai Unika, we can craft personalized tours that allow you to discover the best of this beautiful city. Street food adventures, temple tours, food tours ? We can create an itinerary that caters to all your interests and preferences. Don’t hesitate to experience the magic of Chiang Mai – book your trip with us right here or message us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thaiunikatravel