So, I know I recently wrote about how Chiang Mai Gate Night Market was the best place to experience Thai food for the out of towner, but Chang Phuak Gate Market gives it a run for its money. Not nearly as big and equal distance from Zoe or Spicy, this little market has some big flavor (that sounded stupid… but it’s true.)
I’m gunna go ahead and save you all of the pontification I normally start these out with and just tell you the three things you need to get here.
1. Khao Kha Moo from the cowboy hat lady
2. The suki from the stall where the side ally meets the main road
3. The duck noodle soup from the cart at the west end of the market
That’s not to say there isn’t more on offer here than these, but if you only come here once and don’t get at least one – you’re simply doing it wrong. These three dishes are what I eat here, and I judge the hell out of anyone misguided enough to do otherwise.
I put these in this order because one is better than two, and so for three. The Khao Kha moo made by the Thai woman in the cowboy hat is famous for a reason. The biggest of which is probably her dish’s resemblance to the food that the Chinese tourists, who flock to here in DROVES, eat back home. And when I say droves I mean like actual droves.
plural noun: droves
1 a herd or flock of tourists being released from a tour bus .
They fucking love this meal, and you can expect to hear two Asian languages you won’t understand while eating it. Don’t worry there will still be a good bit of English spoken through this market both by the vendors and patrons alike.
I’ve had Khao Kha Moo a lot in this country. It’s one of my favorite dishes. I’ve had it in Bangkok, the village home of a good friend’s Thai mother, even other spots in Chiang Mai. Whenever someone tells me there is someone doing this dish well and I “need to check it out”, I do – every time. NONE of them come close to this woman and hers. Full stop.
I could tell you about how fatty and melt in your mouth the braised skin is. I could bring up the fact that the broth it’s cooked in has been in continual use since before I was born (still a little of the first batch in there kinda thing). Maybe say how the chili vinegar sauce perfectly contrast with the fatty richness of the pork knuckle. Never cooked anything but a perfectly soft boiled egg yadda yadda. Just eat the damn pork.
A few stalls over where the outer moat road meets the only side soi in this market is a less famous but still kinda famous (among locals that is) suki cart. If you’ve never had suki before it might be the most beginner level stir- fry dish there is.
Step 1: scramble-fry and egg in a screaming hot oiled wok.
Step 2: add meat and heat through
Step 3: toss in veggies and noodles until softened.
Step 4: add sauce and cook down slightly
I can basically here Jamie Oliver telling me that it should be one third carb, veg, and protein. Or how easy it is to chop up 7 different ingredients, have three different sauces on hand, and know how to properly throw them in to an appropriately heated pan in the right order. C’mon Jamie, you know that’s a hassle and it’s gunna taste worse at home.
Simple as it may be this should not deter you from eating the suki here. Wok cooking, just like bread baking, comes down to the execution not the ingredient list. And the lady that is slinging these out like a short order line cook at Buffalo Wild Wings Super Bowl Sunday, is a master at work.
The shutter speed on my Canon had a hard time keeping up with the rate at which her spatula and pan where dancing. The fire she cooks on can parallel a JATO. Her suki sauce might be the finest in all of Chiang Mai. This dish is served with glass noodles and they have a slightly slimy texture when cooked. But honestly they’re one of the few “low carb noodles” out there that don’t suck.
Last and kinda least of the three is the duck noodles. I feel bad saying this, as the man and his wife who run the truck do make a really great product, but the Khao Kha Moo and Suki are just both in a league of their own. None the less this man knows how to roast a duck.
I like this particular bowl of noodles because it’s very much a blank canvas. The protein isn’t intense in flavor, given the amount in the bowl. The noodles are just that, noodles. Most importantly though, the broth is intentionally under seasoned and about as subtle as broth gets in this country.
These are all good things because of what is next to your bowl. A little square cubby with four pockets that are essentially the volume knobs of taste. Each of which can be turned up or down to hit your specific note. Chili flakes for heat, distilled white vinegar with mild chilies macerating for sour, sugar for sweetness, and fish sauce for funk/salt. The broth is your beat, and these allow you to play the melody… he also sells his duck over rice with a nice sauce or just as a full plate; both good alternatives.
Ok so I know I said that these were the things to get here, but they very much are all main courses and meals in and of themselves. As such to supplement your meal, and with it experience, here you should grab some extras. The ubiquitous fruit shakes or juices (particularly passion fruit or roselle) are always a welcome addition. Not to mention the Thai “candy cereal” consistently of sweetened coconut milk and neon colored manipulated starch shapes. But I wouldn’t pass up on the candied sesame peanuts. They taste like chocolate-less Snickers, they’ll get helplessly stuck in your teeth, and you’ll be thinking about them for the rest of your trip. Don’t worry, you can buy them at most 7/11’s too.
Chang Phuak Gate Night Market
Price: Most dishes will run you 40-50 baht here
Open: 17:00-24:00 Everyday
The Good Stuff Chiang Mai