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