With less traffic to fight, the food can get more mobile. I was fascinated by these fully mobile food stands. The cook can just drive around town until a group of people presents itself. Then quickly pull up and sell directly out of his case. Then move on. When offerings get low he can find a more stable spot and set up for more cooking and get out chairs for more of a restaurant feel. This scooter/cart system was very popular, even for the stationary setups.
Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak
Being Chiang Mai I was excited about finding the “Lady in the Hat” at her food stand Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak and her five spice pork knuckle. I’ve seen her on multiple travel shows, she’s a bit of a celebrity. You can find her stand at Chang Phueak, the north gate in Chiang Mai, after 5pm. It’s a large operation with a huge bank of tables, waiters, seaters, a whole crew. To me it seems like the bulk of the crowd is here for this one dish. We can barely find a seat.
The dish is simple yet delicious. Pork on rice with a flavored egg and some pickled mustard greens.
I’ve since recreated this dish with some success (with some help from Andy Ricker).
Another landmark is SP Chicken. Which was 2 blocks from our hotel. So as soon as we checked in we made a bee line to get there. It was festival time so the line was longer than normal so we queued up along side one the most beautiful roasters I’ve seen. Hot coals go in the center cage with 6 spits spinning vertically on each side. The smell is intoxicating.
The two women in front of us don’t really want to be here. They’re complaining the whoel time. Which makes the news that they’ve run out of chickens for the day even more bitter. The cut off is right in front of us and the unhappy women get the last chicken.
Our hunger and disappointment almost spills over into conflict as we hastily regroup. But we find a hidden gem that we had passed on the way. The Sukon Restaurant on Samlarn Rd. This was actually our first taste of khao kha moo. In retrospect this version rivaled the Hat Lady’s. I highly recommend this joint. And it’s much cheaper.