Although many visitors to Thailand rave about the street food, frankly, much of it is pretty mediocre. Much better, in my opinion, are the small mom and pop restaurants that specialize in one kind of dish, or perhaps a style of regional Thai cooking. They tend to be dark, difficult to find, and the owners can often be surly, but the food, man, the food... The above restaurant is a perfect example of this genre of restaurant. It's called Sukhothai Mor Din, literally "Sukhothai Clay Pots", so-called because their curries are served in the red pottery made just outside this northern city:
These aren't just run-of-the-mill curries either. These curries are meant to be ladled over khanom jeen, fermented rice noodles. They had about eight different curries to choose from, and we ordered naam yaa paa, a watery fish-based curry, and naam ngiaow, a thicker northern-style curry made from pork ribs, tomatoes and chunks of blood:
An order of any type of curry and khanom jeen is always accompanied by lots of fresh and par-boiled veggies and herbs:
The green leaves in the foreground are called bai menglak (hairy basil?) and along with par-boiled morning glory, thinly sliced green beans and bean sprouts, are taken with the naam yaa paa. The naam ngiaow is normally eaten with pickled mustard cabbage, crispy fried garlic, shredded cabbage and squeeze of lime.
Other than curries, the clay pots also hold sweets:
I believe the above is sago with corn. I ordered sweetened sticky rice with lamyai, an indigenous fruit. Khuat ordered bua loy maphrao on, small, sweet balls with young coconut:
Those not familiar with Thai sweets will be surprised to learn that the Thais actually prefer these kind of coconut milk-based sweets to also taste salty. I was aware of this, but was surprised at just how salty this shop's sweets were.
On my next visit I'm going to try the delicious-looking green curry with fish balls. Stay tuned...