When in Italy eat Italian, when in Paris gorge on cheese, and when In Chiang Mai sit down for some nice Khantoke. If you’re a fan of appateasers or just sampling a little bit of everything, the Khantoke at Tong Tem Toh will be right up your ally.
Let me explain. Much like Pallela, Khantoke is both the food being served and the thing it’s being served in. A Khantoke vessel is a small slightly elevated decorative basket. It is used as the table for a Khantoke meal, and is the center piece for a group to enjoy a meal, usually accompanied by live entertainment such as traditional Thai dance.
The Khantoke meal is comprised of Sai Ua (Northern style sausage), crispy pork skins, boiled eggs, fermented sour pork, steamed veggies, as well as two different dips to eat them with. The dips are Nam Prik Ong, which is like a Thai Bolognese (don’t tell any Italian Nonnas I said that) and Nam Prik Noom, which is like a Thai Mexican eggplant salsa (this goes for any Abuelas too). There is some variations to what exactly makes the cut for each Khantoke chef, but these are the usual suspects. Don’t forget to order sticky rice, you’ll be wanting some.
While the version at Tong Tem Toh isn’t actually served in a Khantoke, it would kind of ruin the vibe of the place if it was, as you sit at tables and there are no sword dancers around. However, if you want to try this without having to make a reservation at Old Chiang Mai Cultural Center, this spot in Nimman is your best bet.
I suggest getting the Khantoke when eating here because it’s the most convenient way of sampling a selection of what Northern Thai food has to offer. But, you could just as easily choose any items off the menu, as Tong Tem Toh is my favorite Northern Thai spot for that in NImman.
When I last went I got the Gaeng Hung Lay, a Northern Thai/Burmese style pork curry. The color of that garlic clove tells you how much turmeric was used, and it’s soft texture tells you for how long. And whenever Yam Gin Gai (Northern Thai chicken soup) is on offer I usually end up getting it. This is just like your mother’s chicken soup, but only if your mom was named Pi Liew and lived in Mae Hong Son.
You can expect to spend around 150-200 baht per person for a really good meal here.
Tong Tem Toh
Open: 07:00-21:00 Everyday.
I suggest getting there early as it’s ALWAYS busy for dinner. This is a good thing though and very much worth the 10-20 minute wait. Just grab a number from the hosts and look through the vast menu while you wait.
The Good Stuff Chiang Mai