Top Thai Restaurants in Chiang Mai

Good Thai, bad Thai, Australian suburbs all have at least one local Thai restaurant. Most Australians are familiar with the more common dishes on a Thai menu. We assume that when we travel to Thailand, the food will automatically be much better, more authentic and spicy. This is not always the case. You can read Trip Advisor or similar sites for clues. In Thailand, these recommendations are often written by people staying in 5 star Western hotels who are happy to pay 5 star prices for food, or backpackers who hang around cafes and juice bars who are more interested in the ‘chill’ factor than taste. During my last trip to Chiang Mai in the north of Thailand, I found another clue to bad Thai food in restaurants- simply look at the clientele. If a place is full of tourists of any age, you will most likely eat bland, over priced, ordinary food masquerading as Thai. There are exceptions of course, but choosing a restaurant on the basis of a sea of Western diners will usually lead to disappointment. Thai food will be better in your local suburban Thai at home. Watch where the Thais eat. They know where the food is good so just follow their lead.

Here are two of my favourites. They both happen to be vegetarian. The first, Ming Kwan Vegetarian restaurant, is one is frequented by locals from early morning until they finish (around 5 pm). Some brave tourists like ourselves love this place. Little English is spoken. You just point to the things that look good, then ask for a plate of rice, which happens to be wholesome red rice. The cost per plate is between 20 and 30 Thai Bhat ( AU$1.14 or less). The water is free. Favourite dish: the iconic Khao Soi soup, made with a curry sauce and coconut milk base, with some added textured soy meat, a handful of yellow egg noodles and topped with deep-fried crispy egg noodles, pickled mustard greens, shallots, coriander, a squeeze of lime and some ground chillies fried in oil.

A bowl of Khao Soi at Ming Kwan, Chiang Mai
One. Start with the soup
Two. Then add the toppings

My second favourite is Taste from Heaven. This place is frequented by tourists, expats and some locals. ( thus breaking the rule I espoused above). Nan has now opened two more branches in the Moon Muang area but I’ve only eaten at her original branch. The serves here are generous. The menu is in English. Beer, Wine and WiFi  are available as well as things like Vegan brownies, all being tourists draw cards. The food is sensational and medium priced. Most dishes are around 70 – 90 Bhat per plate, (AU $3 or so), and choosing is agony. I want it all. Return visits are a necessity. Favourite dish: Tempura battered morning glory vine with cashews, tofu and peanut sauce and the charred eggplant with chilled tofu salad. The sate of mixed mushrooms with peanut sauce is hard to pass by also. Hungry now?

Ming Kwan Vegetarian Restaurant. 98 Rachadamnoen Rd Soi 4, Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Taste from Heaven. 34/1 Ratmakka road (opposite soi 1) Prasing Muang Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

Next post. Old Hong Kong.

15 thoughts on “Top Thai Restaurants in Chiang Mai”

  1. So fabulously colourful and they sound so full of freshness and zing. The tempura morning glory vine sounds intriguing. We have Chinese friends and whenever we’ve eaten out with them it’s always been in small places full of Chinese customers – they may not look like fancy places but the food is wonderful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The Chinese Aussies know where to go. Fancy places are not generally the best ones- we are often just paying for fine flatware , glasses and decor. That tempura morning glory fine ( Kankung) was a winner. I want some more now ( but am in York).

      Like

  2. I just knew, from previous experience reading such from you this post was going to make me hungry and unhappy with the Anglo offerings available to me today. Wonderful photos and foodalogue.
    Tripadvisor reviews are often so subjective rendering the all but useless. I continue to contribute in an effort to lift the game.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Oh!~ Magoo – you’ve done it again!! As soon as I saw this but before I read it I raced to the fridge and snatched out all of my Asia condiments – opened them up and snorted them in sequence in order to enjoy as least one of the missing senses stimulated. The tears of course were from the chilli jar!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Fighting a recalcitrant computer whilst waiting for a new one: was luckily taught to watch for locals frequenting a restaurant many moons ago . . . best lesson one could have, especially in Asia! Looking at your photos am suddenly not so looking forwards to my boring grill and salad moments ahead 🙂 ! . . . . when walking into my local country Thai am kind’of ‘inside smiling’ when some waiter yells at the kitchen . . . ‘real’ Thai for lady on table ‘whatever’ ! OK – shall pretend I am at Ming K wan – happy landings Milady into one of my favourite ports of the world . . .

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Finding good local food while travelling is always like that. Your rule reminds me of a two-part rule I followed in Florence: (1) discard every place where the menu is written in English (2) look for a place full of locals. Works almost everywhere in the world except India.

    Liked by 1 person

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