Good northern Thai food is very, very hard to find in Bangkok. By comparison, Isaan (NE Thai) is available on every corner, and southern Thai on every third corner, but one really has to search hard to find northern Thai eats here. Fortunately for me, a place opened not far from my house serving some pretty darn good ahaan meuang (“northern food”). Can’t remember the name, but it’s located in a quasi-yuppie shopping complex called, bewilderingly, Plaza Lagoon.
We started with northern hors d’oeuvres (that’s actually what it was called in Thai), a platter of several dishes associated with northern Thai cooking:
As seen from above:
in the center you have nam phrik num, a “dip” of roasted chilies, shallots and garlic, at 12 o’clock some par-boiled veggies that are meant to be eaten with the dip, at 3 o’clock we’ve got khor muu yaang, grilled pork collar, served here with a spicy dip (not really a northern dish per se, but done very well nonetheless), at 6 o’clock is one of the most famous northern dishes of all, the herb and pork grilled sausage known as sai ua, and finally at 9 o’clock, deep-fried pork rinds, another northern specialty, meant to be taken with the nam phrik num. The only loser in this lot was the nam phrik num, seemingly made a few days earlier and extremely limp and lifeless…
Next was kaeng phak waan plaa yaang, a soup/curry of phak waan (“sweet vegetable”, a leafy green that is significantly more green and leafy than it is sweet) and dried fish:
Very, very good. Actually one of the best Thai dishes I’ve had in a long time. Like many northern Thai dishes, this soup makes somewhat unusual use of noodles, and is laden with glass jelly noodles.
And finally, this slightly blurry pic (sorry) is of another famous northern Thai dish, kaeng hang leh:
This is essentially a Burmese dish (hang being the Thai pronunciation of hin, the Burmese word for curry) and employs hearty chunks of pork belly (including the skin and fat) in sweetish-sourish sauce that is eerily similar to US-style barbecue sauce. This is not the most flattering comparison, I know, but trust me, it tastes much better than it sounds (and looks). This dish is often made in great amounts for northern Thai festivals and religious ceremonies. This restaurant’s version was pretty good, but a bit thin and somewhat too sweet.
All in all a pretty good eat. Not as good of course as dinner in Mae Hong Son, but just about as good as it gets in Bangkok. I’ll be back.