Few people seem to make it to Lamphun, which is a pity. The city is located 30km south of Chiang Mai, but getting there is part of the fun, particularly if you go via the old highway, which is edged by towering rubber trees:
and which passes through small towns. And Lamphun itself, although small, is charming:
hardly a surprising setting for an equally charming, longstanding restaurant serving northern Thai food.
Dao Kanong has been around for 40 years now, a history that's evident in the restaurant's somewhat institutional and bare dining room. The food isn't as rustic as some restaurants in northern Thailand, or as or homestyle as the take-away food from markets, but it's prepared with care -- in particular the vegetables, which in northern Thailand can tend to be overcooked -- making it a good introduction to the region's dishes.
On my first visit (pictured at the top of this post), I had (starting from the top and moving clockwise) kaeng ho, a stir-fry of crunchy, tart pickled bamboo, glass noodles, a curry paste and a mixture of meats, vegetables and herbs; nam phrik num, a spicy dip of grilled chilies, shallots and garlic, served here with a lovely selection of steamed vegetables; sticky rice; and smooth, herbal aep muu, minced pork combined with egg and a mild curry paste, and grilled in banana leaf package.
It was all good enough for me to make the drive again:
And on my second visit there was (moving clockwise from the top) sai ua, the northern-style herb and pork sausage, which here has more emphasis on the pork than herbs; kaeng phak, a deliciously earthy, vegetable-heavy soup that was studded with crunchy strips of rainy season bamboo; fresh green chilies stuffed with a minced pork mixture before being battered and deep-fried; and kaeng hang lay, the Shan pork curry, here seasoned a bit too sweet for my tastes.
Those stuffed chilies, seen again here:
were a real highlight: crispy, not oily, and with lots of flavour; easily worth the drive.
Dao Kanong 340 Th Charoen Rat (Th Chiangmai-Lamphun), Lamphun 053 511 552 9.30am-8pm
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