Asia has the best street food in the world. Thailand has the best street food in Asia. Chiang Mai has the best street food in Thailand.
Chiang Mai (เชียงใหม่) is the hub of Northern Thailand and the region's largest city with a population of over 170,000 in the city proper (but more than 1 million in the metropolitan area). Located on a plain at an elevation of 316m, surrounded by mountains and lush countryside, it is much greener and quieter than the capital, and has a cosmopolitan air and a significant expat population, factors which have led many from Bangkok to settle permanently in this "Rose of the North". Having struck a fine balance between the traditional and the contemporary, food remains one of the top attractions in Chiang Mai.
The thing that sets Chiang Mai apart from a place like Bangkok is how obviously diverse it is. Its location in the northern border regions of Thailand make it home to several visible ethno-cultural groups. There are hill people from the surrounding mountains, Burmese, Burmese Chinese, Laotians, Indian Thais that arrived as economic migrants in the late 1800s, and the largely integrated but still culturally distinct Thai Chinese that have been in Thailand for generations. This intersection of cultures leads to some exceptionally delicious and unique food.
In much of traditional northern Thai food, you see a not-so-subtle shift away from the trademark brightness and acidity of dishes found in the capital. There is a wonderful, complex earthiness to the cooking in Chiang Mai. Food tastes of the jungle and mountains that surround the city.
Chiang Mai’s outdoor bazaars are a riot of sounds, smells, and tastes. When dusk falls the area comes to life with an array of delicious food at the ready. It's from this that the city's unique culinary flavours have become world-renowned and it's these flavours that we at KraPow LDN look to serve up.
For the best KraPow Moo in Chiang Mai, go for a few cocktails at Jackie’s camper van bar on the east side of the moat surrounding the old town and then head north along the same road. You’ll then find a rundown local restaurant with the customary garden furniture and plastic table cloths, run by a friendly old lady who doubles as the chef, and which is about halfway between 'Jackie’s' and a grotty local haunt called 'Spicy'. It is from this little Aladdin's cave of hidden culinary treasures that the inspiration for KraPow LDN was taken and that prompted us to embark on this crazy, wonderful journey.
With its spicy and aromatic counterpoints of flavour, and the lively textural contrasts it affords, the food of Thailand is certainly one of the world’s most entertaining and engaging cuisines. Influenced by India in the use of herbs and spices, and cooking techniques from the Chinese, the Thais over the centuries have added innovations that have resulted in an original and diverting collection of dishes.