If you never traveled through Chiang Mai, or any part of Northern Thailand and currently believe you know what good Thai food is, sorry, a reality check is mandatory. Thai food around this area blows all other Thai food into carbon dust. Watch this documentary. Then goto Chiang Mai. Eat as much as you can. Maybe visit Andy RIcker's place if you happen to be in the neighborhood.
Day no. 597, my first time in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Feeling quite burnt out from traveling and just constantly being on the move. Spending too much time bussing 5 hours here, 10 hours there, on unpaved roads, I was looking for a break and settling down for a bit - the backpacker, round the world traveler way =]
I thought I knew what Thai food was... I come from a foodie city. Food critics, writers and bloggers often say Vancouver has the best Asian cuisine outside of Asia. It's mostly true, but Thai food outside of Thailand is almost laughable, until I ate my way through Chiang Mai. Thai cuisine found in the Western world can only be best described in 2 ways. Chinese style flavours with a some Thai ingredients. Or, cheap knock offs, comparable to the horrendous dishes found on Khao San Road, Bangkok - aka, backpacker/tourist central.
My first day in Chiang Mai, right by the hostel I was staying at, was a little food stall, on a corner of a super busy intersection. Their specialty, a coconut curry noodle soup with braised beef - the Khao Soi. I can't remember if I just chewed any of it or just dumped the bowl and its entire contents down my throat, but my mind was blown. The only right thing to do was order a second bowl, didn't matter the temperature was nearing 40 degrees celsius and the humidity nearing 90%. That was my introduction to Northern Thai food and my palette made a bit more wiser.