Northern Thailand A Foodies Guide
If you have travelled and eaten Thai food in the northern region of Thailand, you will have experienced how good the flavours of this region are. Outside of this region, it is much more difficult to find authentic northern food so where to find it in Hua Hin? Notable for its lack of extreme spice, northern Thai food is the food of the lush green valleys and cool, forested mountains of the Thai highlands. The former Lanna Kingdom was once the ruler of this northern region.
It was also home to the majority of the ethnic groups of Thailand. Its food is often extremely seasonal in nature. Many northern Thai dishes share their origins with the neighbouring Shan State in Burma, northern Laos and also with Yunnan Province in China. Sticky Rice (Khao Niaw) is traditionally eaten rather than normal steamed Jasmine Rice (Khao Suay). You will rarely find the addition of coconut milk or cream, with curries and other dishes relying more on dried spices for flavour. The use of chilli is not as prevalent in the north, as compared to the south.
The most well-known northern dish is Khao Soi (Chiang Mai Noodles). This is Thailand’s version of Laksa. Its rich broth is served with 2 types of noodles, fresh and deep fried, a protein, normally chicken; condiments like lime juice, chilli jam, pickled mustard greens and shallots are also added to intensify the flavour. Head for Wanphen Khao Soi, just opposite the Klai Kangwon Palace. There is no English sign out the front and the menu is in Thai. Having said that, the northern flavours are fantastic, authentic and right up there with the best in town. Another delicious dish Khun Wanphen serves is Gaeng Hang Lae. This is a rich jungle curry made without coconut milk. It is not overly spicy, but seriously delicious. There are many other northern dishes on display for you to choose from, so you will not regret seeking this place out.
One of the more popular northern dishes is Sai Ua (Chiang Mai Sausage). It is a wonderful combination or pork mince with red curry paste, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and many herbs and spices. It is a must try for lovers of sausages. During the day, there is a street vendor at the Chat Chai morning market who has Sai Ua grilling fresh; otherwise head to Cicada Market on the weekend where there is a vendor doing excellent northern food.
Does Thai Spaghetti Bolognese sound like something you’d like? Then make sure to ask for Nam Prik Ong. It is usually served with Khanom Jiin, fermented fresh rice noodles, and looks exactly like the Italian version, sans the Parmesan cheese. Across the canal you will find the serene courtyard setting of Khrua Araya. This hidden gem is tucked away, making it difficult to find. It does, however, serve up a really tasty version of Nam Prik Ong. The large earthenware pots lined up in a row also contain other sauces to try with your Khanom Jiin. A northern relish, which is quite a taste sensation, is Nam Prik Noom. It is made from roasted young green chillies and served with either crispy pork skin or vegetables. It may look spicy, but is generally mild, with the sharp tang of green chilli. At evening time, the local markets at either Phae Mai or Dinosaur have a vendor there selling Nam Prik Noom and other northern dishes.
There are a handful of other places serving northern food in Hua Hin; the ones listed above are places that Leigh Higgins from Feast Thailand frequents and it’s based on her personal taste and opinion. Feast Thailand offers unique daily food tours in Hua Hin. Wanphen Khao Soi 2/71 Hua Hin 50, Phetkasem Road (Opposite Klai Kangwon Palace), Open: 09.15 – 16.00 Daily Khrua Araya Liab Khan Khlong Road (Cross Pracha Ruam Jit bridge), Open: 09.00 – 16.00 Daily (except 1st Thurs & Fri of month) Dinosaur Market Soi Chon Pra Than 62 (continuation of Hua Hin Soi 56 – over the railway line and the canal and 100m on the right), Open: 4pm – 8pm Daily. Best days Sunday, Monday and Wednesday Phae Mai Market Chon Pra Than Road (Canal Rd) 200m past Soi Chon Pra Than 41 on the left, Open: 5pm – 10pm Tuesday