More options for night owls
Across the city
One thing leads to the other and all of a sudden it’s 04:30 in the morning in Chiang Mai. The last thing you ate was an inadequate custard concoction from 7-Eleven purchased to soften the blow from those five wine glasses you inhaled at Why Not’s infamous wine buffet. This is exactly why not, you think to yourself. You might as well give in to your sudden, violent hunger. Now what is it you fancy? We’ve covered late-night market eats, but here are some of our other favourite options.
If you’re partial to the fried noodle dishes of Thailand, superb options abound. If you’re in Nimman, head to Suthep Road, where Pad Thai Tapay awaits. This Chiang Mai culinary institution amounts to unimpressive plastic tables gathered around a wok station. Don’t be fooled, however, by the modest furnishings: Pad Thai Tapay has been going strong for two generations. Get ready for a generous, sweet pad thai that has so much egg in it the dish is more akin to a creamy dessert with just the right touch of savoury provided by fresh lime and green onion. Dish out 35 baht for the “special” and rejoice in the environmentally friendly banana leaves used as take out containers.
Another appealing alternative is Pad Thai Lung Kaew, which is more centrally located inside the Old City. Even if sweeter than average, the pad thai here is also more sour. With a massive wok going at all times, service at Pad Thai Lung Kaew is uncharacteristically speedy. One caveat: if your order prawns, these are cooked separately and popped on top of your noodles, so they’re more of an afterthought than a main ingredient — skip them.
There’s no talking chihuahua, but that’s easy to overlook in the face of decent and, most remarkably, cheap Mexican food in Chiang Mai at 02:00 in the morning. Ranging from 40 to 60 baht, order burritos, quesadillas, and tacos topped with honest-to-god real cheese. While Tacos Bell is a far cry from memorable Mexican cuisine, its prices can’t be beat in Chiang Mai, where a burrito usually costs 85 to 200 baht.
Even in Thailand, no late-night eating rampage is complete without some kebabs so chock-full they drip bits of lettuce and garlic sauce. In Chiang Mai, you have a choice between Turkyi and Doner Kebab – located about 10 metres from one another, life can be full of hard choices, we know. Except in this case, it’s a no brainer: Doner Kebab is far superior.
To begin with, Doner Kebab is run by a gang of Turkish “bros”, who liven up their chicken with a tantalising mix of spices which is then augmented by a generous dollop of their subtle tzatziki sauce. Dish out an extra 30 baht for garlicky, oregano-heavy pita bread, and you’ve got yourself a winning meal. Turkyi gets props for serving more generous portions, but sweet mayo and ketchup are no match for the complex layers of flavour at Doner.
If fried food is more your thing by the early hours of the morning, locals rave about Midnight Chicken. Simply put, this fried chicken is so good we’ve seen it entice vegetarians. Midnight Chicken opens at, well, midnight and stays open till they run out – which they do, so don’t wait too long. Choose from chicken, pork, ribs, fish and sai hua (northern fermented sausage), all deep fried to perfection.
Even without any additional sauces, the chunks of chicken are spicy and flavourful, leading us to believe there’s more to the batter than first meets the eye. The different kinds of nam prik on offer are also well worth a try. Located among countless roadside restaurants on Kamphaeng Din Road, south of the night bazaar, look for the restaurant with a pink and white awning on the left.
Lastly, we couldn’t write about late night food in Chiang Mai without mentioning Jok Somphet. Open 24 hours, Jok Somphet’s specialty is a kind of rice porridge that’s easy on the stomach and aromatic thanks to fresh ginger, cilantro and dried garlic. The porridge is as soothing as a warm hug, especially if you ask them to crack an egg in it, which we highly recommend. Unlike the plastic tables that house most late night food, at Jok Somphet you’ll be seated inside a large restaurant (with a decent bathroom to boot) at pleasant yellow-tiled tables.
By Claudia Sosa
Last updated on 10th October, 2013.