I didn't manage to find a whole lot of regional Thai food in the tiny riverfront town of Chiang Saen. Even the town's night market had the tired 'franchise' vendors selling the same dishes you'll find just about everywhere in Thailand nowadays. However the fact that cargo boats from Jinghong, in Yunnan province, dock at Chiang Saen meant that there were a couple interesting Chinese options. In particular, I had a great breakfast at Ah Ying, a family-run noodle joint located across the street from the Mekong River. I was pretty sure I was getting authentic Chinese-style noodles here because a) the entire family was speaking Chinese and b) the noodles were hand-pulled.
My order of a bowl of noodles got the two Chinese guys into action, grabbing a ball of dough and pulling, twisting and whacking it into shape:
Less than two minutes later the thin strands were dunked into boiling water, and were served with a light broth, a handful of greens, and very un-Thai topping of minced pork and pickled mustard cabbage that was equal parts spicy and sour. It alone was reason enough to go dine in Chiang Saen.
Ah Ying 778/1 Th Rimkhong, Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai 089 655 3468 7am-10pm