CONFESSIONS OF A                                                                  
A San Francisco Girl's Down and Dirty Adventures in the Culinary Playground

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Northern (De)Lights (Huen Phen -- Chiang Mai, Thailand)

I'm back from my week o' hell. Let the games begin.

Let me again mention how fucking balls hot it was in Thailand.

On our first day in Chiang Mai (Northern Thailand), we set out to find a little lunch. We met an ex-pat who said it hadn't been that hot in two years. Super. Anyway, I had heard a little about Huen Phen, so we set out to find it. Streets are not so logical so it was with great determination that we trudged along in the 105 degree heat, thighs sticking together, piecing together what little Thai we could to try to find HP.

Turns out that it was right down the street from our hotel. Dumbass Americans, we are.

We knew we were getting accustomed to the heat because a) this was a hole in the wall with no air-con, save for a small dining room in the center that we were NOT in, b) all the food was kind of sitting out -- a strict no-no for Jon based on his mama's germ obsession and c) there was no air-con.

We sat down and ordered thusly: Pork Curry (red), sticky rice, khao soi, som tum, a Singha (beer) and a coke.

The pork curry was made without coconut milk, as is traditional in the north. This was some of the most tender pork I've ever had. It melted in our mouths like buttah. The only thing that made it better than it was already was that we were able to soak up the curry with fistfuls of sticky rice. I love sticky rice. Something about the rice being all clumpy makes it taste better. I'm serious.

The khao soi we ordered was noodles in curried fish sauce. Khao soi is extremely popular in Chiang Mai and is any soupy, curried noodle dish. This was fantastic -- spicy, noodle-y and the fish, which looked shredded, was tender and tasty. Just writing about it makes me sad because although you can find almost any type of Thai food here in SF, I have seen Khao soi in only one spot (Burma Superstar) and I want some more of it. RIGHT NOW.

Som Tum is just magical when you are sweating like cheese left on the counter after a party. Som Tum is the traditional spicy green papaya salad. And HP's version was perfect -- crisp, spicy, refreshing and yums.

Service was extremely friendly and helpful, despite our limited language skills and their limited ability dealing with Western folk. And our 20B ($.50) tip was so appreciated that I almost couldn't believe it.

We enjoyed this meal so much that we kept meaning to go back. But I'm a whore, and well, I only had a few days to spread my love around in the totally rockin' city of Chiang Mai (more on that later). So we peeled our butts off the seats, thanked the kind folks who cooked and served our meal and moved on.

Our meal? 150B, or just under $4. This included the 20B tip and the drinks were 60B. If you're following, that means our food was just under $2. Pardon me while I weep into my bowl of tapioca pudding that cost twice what our entire meal cost at HP. Nothing's more pathetic than a whore sobbing into her pudding.


"To eat is a necessity. To eat intelligently is an art."
--La Rochefoucauld


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