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Any chowhounders been to Angkor Wat, Cambodia, Krabi, and Chiang Mai, Thailand? [Moved from S.F. board]

c
champagne Aug 8, 2006 09:32 PM

I will be travelling to Angkor Wat (Cambodia),Krabi and Chiang Mai (Thailand). I'm looking for great places to eat. Any chowhounders been to these places and can make recs on places to eat and where to take a cooking class?Also, what are the dishes that are well known in these regions? Thanks for any recs in advance.

  1. janedoe67 Aug 8, 2006 09:57 PM

    I was in Cambodia last year. I wish I had written down the restaurants where I ate (I guess I wasn't thinking like a true chowhound). It seemed to me that many westerners went to The Red Piano in Seim Reap. It's probably the closest thing to an American Restaurant in the area. I did go there once and it was surprisingly good....but I hate to frequent a place that is obviously set up for tourists. If you are planning on taking taxis, many taxi drivers (and/or tuk tuk drivers) speak english and will tell you the local places to eat. (they will eat there too, but in another room with the other drivers). We did convince our driver to dine with us one night (this was at the local Cambodian Dance Restaurant). I think he had a great time.

    Cambodian Restaurants serve some amazing green curries and many dishes with meat (chicken/pork/beef)/lemongrass/ginger. The mango salads were all wonderful too. I will check my receipts and ask my travel friends if they remember the specific names of the places we ate and I will try and send another post. Have a great time on your trip!

    P.S. If you find a taxi driver named Lean (pronounced Lee Ann), you will be in luck.

    1. The Dairy Queen Aug 8, 2006 10:08 PM

      Several years ago, I took 2 days of a four-day class in Chiang Mai from Somphon and Elizabeth Nabnian. I do recommend it. I found the details of it in the Lonely Planet guidebook to Thailand. I remember we made curries from scratch one day and went to a Thai market on another. The market day was amazing. Also, Somphon brought a giant basket of Thai fruits to us and showed us how to peel them and what to do with them. If you plan to spend any time browsing the Thai markets, the lesson on the fruits, which were certainly unfamiliar to me, is very helpful. It can be so intimidating to buy a gorgeous piece of fruit and not know which part is edible or whether it needs to be cooked or what.

      ~TDQ

      1. b
        birddog Aug 9, 2006 02:00 AM

        So jealous! My wife and I went through Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam last summer, and we really enjoyed the food (in between temple sightings). In general, the best places you find are the small ones crowded with locals - no surprise there. The guidebooks do a pretty good job steering you when you're feeling less adventurous. In Siem Reap we also ate at the Red Piano, and it was a nice break from immersion in Cambodia. A cold drink and a good bowl of pasta. The old market is an assault on the senses, a real step back in time. Local dish "amok" (coconut fish stew) that you'll read about is good; you can get it most places, even expat pubs. As you may also read, Khmer cuisine pales to Northern Thai. In Chiang Mai, go to the Night Bazaar and try it all out. Aum Vegetarian Food was delicious, very reasonable. Anusarn Market also a great variety. Noodles, onions, fish, potatoes... all good. Make sure to get the mango sticky rice. Such a cool place!!

        1. f
          foodfirst Aug 9, 2006 07:33 AM

          Khmer Kitchen has been around a few years and serves v. good Cambodian food. If I'm not mistaken, amok is in fact a fish and coconut milk 'custard', steamed in a banana leaf (or, more often these days, tin foil). It's the Cambodian version of Thailand's 'haw mawk', which tends to be firmer, spicier, and richer with coconut milk. If you get tired of Cambodian, Sawasdee Garden in Siem Reap has good, authentic (spicy) Thai food.

          In Chiang Mai you must have khao soi - available everywhere but locals say the versions at Khao Soi Lamduan and Khao Soi Faa Haam are the best (there's debate - Lamduan was the original, supposedly). Both are across the river and to the north of Warorot Market. At Lamduan, also try the sate and, if they have it, the naem (chopped pork fermented with rice in a banana leaf triangle - it's safe and tastes much better than it sounds! slightly sour and v. spicy), and the sai krok (grilled sausage).

          There's a market that runs from the main gate to the old town on Sundays, starting about 3p. Though it's mostly crafts and clothes, there are also a lot of local foods here to try. Walk up the street and duck into the wat gates ... inside the temple compounds vendors set up stalls. Really good non-tourist fare like khanom jeen (rice noodles with various curries). Just as you enter the big gate look to your left for a stall selling some dishes and a banana w/coconut treat. Give the latter a try; these bananas are pink inside and have a wonderful strawberry-like flavor.

          Warorot Market has a food hall serving up all kinds of tasties (lots of varieties of khanom jeen here) starting at about 9am. This is also a place to try thin rice flour 'crepes' folded over a sweet-savory filling of chopped peanuts, pork, and shrimp paste. You eat them hot, in a lettuce leaf with a sprig of coriander.

          I know moderators will frown on this but I'd like to recommend Baan Orapin (google it) as a place to stay. Locals are the best source of food info and the Thai owners really steered us right in Chiang Mai.

          Further info on these Chiang Mai foods is available on the Thailand section of my food blog.

          Happy travels!

          1. el jefe Aug 11, 2006 07:27 PM

            It's hard to add to any of Foodfirst's replies, but if you're looking for a sit-down restaurant in Chiang Mai that serves authentic northern Thai food you should try either:

            1. Hong Tauw Inn -- it's just northwest of the city on Nimmanheiman Rd (across from the Amari Hotel). After dinner if you go a block or two south you'll be in trendiest area in Chiang Mai, where all the younger locals hang out til very late.
            2. Huen Penh on Ratchamanka Rd inside the moat. It's actually two different restaurants. Very casual for lunch where you can sample a variety of dishes for about $1.00 each. Dinner is inside an old Thai house decorated nicely with an eclectic collection of antiques and chachkas. Prices are very reasonable for the atmosphere and quality -- $2.00 - $4.00 a dish.

            You could also try one of the "Thai BBQ's". Not really a BBQ, it's an all you can eat affair where you choose your meats, fish, tofu and vegetables to grill at your table. Most of them also have a sort of salad bar with cooked (usually fried) foods in addition to salads. The few westerners that try these BBQ's usually go to the ones just outside the moat. There are more than a few of them and they're huge -- some seat over 500 people and usually have live music. Quality, cleanliness and freshness also varies. I've found the best to be the one behind the Hillside 4 Condo on Huay Kiaw Rd. Just follow the line of motos driving in thru the alley to the right of the condo. 500 Thais and 3 or 4 westerners every night can't be wrong. And if you don't like it you only wasted about $2.50!

            You also can't go wrong eating at any of the many night markets that set up at various locations around town.

            1 Reply
            1. re: el jefe
              s
              Simon Aug 19, 2006 03:13 PM

              re: Chiang Mai:

              -- i second Huen Penh, but i definitely prefered it in its lunchtime incarnation: dinner is tourist-heavy and i didn't think the food was as good...but lunch was a blast: we went there three times...

              -- Aroon Rai, on the east side of the moat, halfway down, is supposedly the oldest restaurant there (maybe 50 years old) and is a great casual place for lunch...

              -- there is a particular sausage stand that i loved but it'd be next to impossible to describe how to find it...

              -- on the little Muslim street (just west of the river -- it's marked as such on your Nancy Chandler map), there are great meat and soup dishes...

              -- as mentioned above, breakfast street food at the Warrorot Market rocks!...we were in Chiang Mai for two weeks and i think i ate about six meals a day...sidenote: while you should definitely try Khao Soi, the one at the famous restaurant "Just Khao Soi" was in my opinion, overpriced and only so-so...

              -- oh, and on (every?) Sunday there is a open market, mini-festival in some of the old city courtyards and along one of the main streets which they block off for food and clothing and antique stands: amazing food here too: get some of the sweet rice baked in sugarcane husks (?) and the Chinese-style dumplings!

              Can't help much re: Krabi because we mostly stayed on Railey beach, and ate the average hotel food for those days...

              Have a great time!

            2. j
              Jefferson Aug 15, 2006 05:57 AM

              In Krabi, you will be advised to visit Ruen Mai, and you definitely should. They do an excellent job with everything. It's not on the main strip, but you can take a taxi or, at greater risk, a motorbike taxi. I've got pics of various dishes at Ruen Mai posted in this collection of Thailand food photos:
              http://thailand2005.home.att.net/food/

              Southern Thailand specialties might be too hot for most people until they have acclimated, but would include "kua kling," a blistering preparation that starts off seeming merely hot but builds and builds, and "gaeng som" or "sour curry," typically with fish and fermented bamboo shoots. Perhaps my favorite Southern specialty were the pla sai, described on the menu as "little crunchy sandfish" that were marinated in fresh turmeric and shallots, then fried so crunchy you could eat them from head to tail. Also, of course, musamun curries, but you can get those anywhere.

              If you get out to Railay (the Laem Phra Nang peninsula), vendors work the beach either on foot or from boats. We had a box lunch there, so I just bought "young coconuts" (very refreshing) to "drink", and didn't try the local restaurants.

              As for cooking classes, there might be some, but you might want to check out a Thailand discussion board for suggestions: http://www.thailandqa.com/forum/index...

              Have fun!

              1. f
                FAT Traveler Aug 19, 2006 10:51 PM

                I've eaten at the Red Piano in Siem Reap 5 or 6 times and, obviously, really enjoy it. The food is French influenced and the prices, in US dollars, are amazingly low.

                1. c
                  champagne Oct 4, 2006 03:20 AM

                  After actually going on my trip and exploring, here are some suggestions I would recommend

                  Siem reap: We were trying to go to Amok- and stumbled upon this fantastic place that had the best amok (Khmer Kitchen was not that great). This place was called Traditional Khmer Food located in an alley behind a row of bars (between Khmer Kitchen and Red Piano).

                  Ao Nang (Krabi)- This place was quite the disappointment.
                  There was so much italian food around, we started to get confused as to where we were. Along the end of the beach is a row of restaurants on the beachfront. There is one restaurant there that was a Thai/Italian place. (Il Spunik?) I think,
                  Anyways, there was a salted egg with shrimp that was really good, and the young fresh coconut with tapioca was one of the best deserts I have ever had.

                  Chiang Mai: I would have to say the food at the markets were really good. We ate at the restaurant in the Tamarind Village hotel, which had a fantastic ambience and the food was pretty good. The fish/crab cakes that we ordered were good, but stay away from the spaghetti fushion thai dishes available. Huen Penh was really good per the recs from others. It was different and very interesting. The fish curry was EXCELLENT. Ask the waiters what they recommend. They'll point you in the right direction. Otherwise, we ordered too much of the things we weren't used to eating like the preserved crab which was way too salty.
                  Happy eatings if you go to Thailand or Cambodia.

                  1. d
                    donald Feinstein Nov 11, 2006 09:10 AM

                    Just got back from Chiang Mai a few days ago. Cannot go wrong eating off the street carts -- well with my constitution it is okay. Discovered a very nice Italian restaurant called Pom Poi. I think it means chubby or happy eating. Located in an alley next to a bar called "The Hash Bar". When you find the bar, just walk down the alley about 200 feet. In doors or outdoor patio. We had a party of about 30 and had a wonderful time. Can't say much for the wine selection, but the food was very good. Also found an small Mediteranian place called Mai Place. Excellent humus and babaganoush. Located in the night market, so have no idea how to explain directions to it.

                    1. b
                      bbc Nov 23, 2006 08:11 AM

                      It's been a long time since I visited Thailand so I don't have specific recs, but both trips had eating highlights that I've never forgotten. I think you can't go wrong. I never got sick eating street food or any food actually (though it's best to use common sense when scoping out restaurants of course).

                      Look out for people selling things wrapped in banana leaves on the streets - if you're lucky you'll find coconut-milk infused sweet sticky rice with jackfruit. If you're not, you might get twigs with rock sugar or some basil/pate thing. Perhaps local eats, and not harmful, but not my thing.

                      Krabi will have stupendous fresh seafood - white fish with lemongrass & thai chilis was my favorite. And most places had live scampy/prawns (they were huge). Market food was also fantastic.

                      1. s
                        sinbarambam Dec 27, 2006 10:30 PM

                        Has anyone been to any of the places below in Chiang Mai?

                        I have only been to Reun Suntree and thought it was fantastic - great location, nice atmosphere.

                        We're going back in February and I was wondering if the ones below were worth checking out:

                        • The House - 15 Minutes / 8.1 Miles or 15 Km
                        This is an evocative location, a restored colonial house, candlelit at night, with soft live music, fine linen and rattan furnishings. The food is first class fusion. Located in the inner city on Moon Muang Road.
                        • Baan Suan Restaurant – 30 minutes / 16.2 Miles or 30 Km
                        Located on particularly scenic bank of the river Mae Ping, the sunsets are quite magical. Created in traditional Northern Thai style, the ‘house’ is very atmospheric. Cuisine is an accomplished blend of Thai and European.
                        • Giorgio Italian Restaurant – 15 minutes / 8.1 Miles or 15 Km
                        Located quite near the night Bazaar, Giorgio’s offers surprisingly authentic Italian cuisine. It is fairly casual dining with some excellent fine quality pizzas. Everything is prepared from an immaculate open plan kitchen. A popular venue amongst expats living in C
                        • Whole Earth Restaurant – 15 Minutes / 8.1 Miles or 15 Km
                        A restaurant with a healthy theme, yet an entirely sensual experience. Located in an attractive old style house set amidst elaborately beautiful gardens. The food is predominantly vegetarian but meat and fish dishes are available.
                        • Ban Rai Yam Yen Restaurant – 10 minutes / 5.4 Miles or 10 Km
                        The restaurant is slightly out of the way and most popular with locals. It serves northern Thai style food in a garden setting.

                        1. s
                          StPauliGirl Dec 29, 2006 07:47 PM

                          I highly recommend the Bopha Angkor Hotel & Restaurant in Siem Reap. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are all delicious and reasonably priced. It's been over a year since I've been there and I cannot stop drooling over the Cambodian hot pot I had.

                          http://www.bopha-angkor.com

                          1. HKTraveler Jan 1, 2007 06:09 AM

                            In Siem Reap, the restaurant in the Hotel de la Paix was excellent. They serve refined versions of local cuisines. Definitely not fuzzy fusioins. We were in Siem Reap for 3 nights and it was so good that we went there for 2 of the 3 nights! The big downside is cost since it is priced like a dinner in a fine dining restaurant as opposed to the very cheap and reasonable price that you can get at a normal restaurant.

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