Muu Thup isn't exactly the name of this restaurant, located in Mae Sariang, southern Mae Hong Son. In fact, it doesn't really have a name, nor a sign. Instead, locals know the place by its most noteworthy dish. Tup means to hit, and refers to a technique in which tough cuts of meat are grilled then tenderised via the vigorous thwacking of a mallet. It's a dish I first encountered in Vientiane, Laos, then later in Chiang Mai. I've come across a few similar places since then, but Muu Thup stands out in my mind as the epitome of this style of northern Thai restaurant: rustic, meaty, smokey and almost exclusively frequented by men. It also stands out because the food is very, very good.
Most diners come for the eponymous muu thup, the pork version of the dish, but the restaurant also does beef and buffalo:
I had the latter, which was smokey, meaty and pleasantly dry and stringy, and came served with a really delicious salty/spicy/garlicky dip (shown at the top of this post). Deceptively simple and utterly delicious.
Just about everything else on the brief, wall-mounted menu is grilled:
Including aep muu, banana leaf packets of minced pork (including one version that uses pork brains) and herbs:
A dish that's equal parts meaty and herbal:
not unlike like the restaurant's sai ua, the famous northern Thai sausage:
which has a similar, albeit fattier, combination of pork and herbs:
The least interesting dish of the meal was the one thing that wasn't grilled. The laap muu suk, cooked pork laap:
rather blandly emphasised blood and offal over the usual dried spice mixture, although I was pretty happy with the generous topping of deep-fried pork crackling.
Dishes that are as simple as they are delicious, yet also so rare outside of northern Thailand; I couldn't have imagined a more fitting meal for my last one in Mae Hong Son.
Muu Thup Th Wiang Mai, Mae Sariang 8am-7pm
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