Chiang Mai is a top international destination and the culinary delights served in most restaurants mirror its reputation as a culturalal melting
pot, visitors will do better to try the varieties of local cuisine first.
Let's start with Northeastern cuisine, which are hot, often to the extreme and uses very little meat.
Most northeastern dishes are eaten with sticky rice, a glutinous variety, which is steam-cooked and served in a wicker container.
A famous northeastern specialty is the papaya salad "som tum," a shredded papaya, tomato, lime juice, sugar, fish sauce and either fresh water crabs or dried shrimps. It's a delicious side dish, although fiery at best.
One big Northern food favorite is the pomelo salad (yam som-o), made of sliced pomelo, mixed vegetables, lemon and a large portion of chili.
A good, not so spicy, side dish is the "kab-moo," or deep-fried pork skin, which is served crisp.
Southern food is also hot. But fresh seafood and vegetables remain the mainstay as are baby bamboo shoots.
By far the most popular Southern meal here is the yellow curry, "gaeng luang," which consists of fish, bamboo shoots, spices, chilies and "kamin" - the yellow herb that gives a distinctively rich taste and aromatic flavor.
Cuisine from central Thailand is the usual main food visitors get to eat first.
The reason: it's the least hot. The curries or "gaeng," with either chicken, fish, pork or beef, are mixed with coconut milk,
vegetables and spices and become a rich, tasty dish. "Nam prik," which is a gravy like sauce is either eaten with rice or fried fish. It's not so hot and very tasty.
Thai noodles are another dishes you should not miss. There is a particular variety of Thai noodles called "mee krop," which is worth
a try. Depending on the diner, it could be prepared hot by adding chili. To add flavor, one may add a dash of vinegar, fish sauce and dry chilies.
If you are exploring Chiang Mai, you shouldn't miss these dishes. Or you shall have miss the real Thailand.