Khanom jeen, thin round rice noodles, are among Thailand's most regional dishes. You could easily pinpoint where you are in Thailand simply by looking at the khanom jeen on offer. In the south, this would most likely be a spicy, coconut-milk curry served with a huge platter of fresh herbs and some semi-pickled fruit or vegetables; in Bangkok, khanom jeen are sold with a variety of mild, herbal, typically fish-based curries and sides of shredded herbs and vegetables; and in northeastern Thailand, the noodles are pounded with shredded papaya in tam sua, a local take on the ubiquitous papaya salad.
Northern Thais love their khanom jeen as well, and for more than 30 years, one place folks in Chiang Mai have been getting their noodles is Talat San Paa Khoy, a market just east of the Ping River.
During the day, Talat San Paa Khoy is your typical busy fresh market. Come evening, after all the vendors have left, the stalls are wiped down, covered in oilcloth and are converted to clunky dining tables:
The stall does five dishes: kaeng phet (red curry) with pork or beef, green curry with chicken, nam ngiaw and nam yaa kathi, a mild coconut milk-based curry with chicken:
I've tasted all of them, and they range from good to great. The two kaeng phets are mild, and the meat is supplemented with thumb-sized chunks of tender eggplant. The green curry, which I ate served over rice, is surprisingly spicy. The naam yaa is rich and mild. My favourite was probably the nam ngiaw (pictured above), the northern khanom jeen fave, which here is rich and smokey, and arrives studded with pork ribs and just-cooked cherry tomatoes that burst when you eat them.
Khanom Jeen San Paa Khoy Thanon Kong Say, Chiang Mai 4pm-4am Mon-Sat
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