Besides some great lunch and dinner places in and around Mae Hong Son (one more of which I’ll profile soon), there’s also some interesting stuff to be had at breakfast and in the evenings. In the mornings, the city’s market is by far the best place to fuel up:
There you’ll find several basic stalls selling everything from generic Thai breakfasts such as rice porridge to local Shan specialties such as khanom jeen naam ngiaw, fresh rice noodles served with a light pork broth. Amongst the same knot of vendors as the latter, you’ll also find the dish pictured at the top of this post, an odd combination of a type of solidified soy bean paste and deep-fried tofu that the locals told me is a relatively new introduction from Burma. It’s made by slicing hearty chunks of the bean ‘pudding’:
and chunks of deep-fried tofu, and topping the whole lot with garlic oil, deep fried crispy garlic, tamarind juice, fish sauce, soy sauce, MSG, sesame seeds and dried chilies. A little odd, but actually not that bad. Things get really weird when the hot liquid soy bean stuff is poured over fresh rice noodles, resulting in a gooey, stringy mixture.
Every evening a market sets up directly in front of Wat Chong Kham:
During the tourist season, there are several vendors selling everything from som tam to local sweets. We arrived during the off season when there’s a lot less for sale, although you can still find a couple people selling khang pong, a Shan dish of fried papaya fritters, generously spiced with chili and dried turmeric:
As well as a few vendors selling the previously-mentioned khanom jeen and Shan-style khao soi.
Update: Flickr user meemalee claims that the tofu-like ingredient mentioned above is made from gram, not soybean flour. She provides a link to this Wikipedia entry, which provides all the details. Thanks, meemalee!