Eating out is just a way of life here. My kitchen only has a fridge and microwave, which is common. Because eating out is cheap and easy. BUT, Chiang Mai has so many amazing restaurants, it’s easy to blow all your hard earned baht on food.
This week I challenged myself to eating cheap. 50 baht per meal was my self imposed budget. That’s less than $2 CAD. Here’s what I ate.
Monday – Pad Thai 35 Baht
My go-to cheap, fast dinner is the “Pad Thai” lady. Just a block from school, she has small restaurant, but I usually get takeaway and eat at home luxuriating in my a/c. I love pad thai in all forms, so I’m always well satisfied. I can order with the bare minimum of Thai “nung ka”, which is just “one please”.
Tuesday – Som Tam 30 Baht
Next to Pad Thai lady is Som Tam Lady. Som Tam is Thailand’s famous papaya salad. Each salad is made fresh in her mortar and pestle with unripe green papaya soaked in spicy lime fish sauce dressing topped with peanuts. If you are new to Thailand, be sure to order it “mai pet” or “not spicy”. If you order NOT spicy, then she will only use two chilies.
Wednesday – Cowboy Hat Lady 30 Baht
Apologies for the lack of originality with the anglo names for these eateries, but that’s just what we call them, and Cowboy Hat Lady is world renown. Her food stall is along the north side of the moat, squished along side many other food vendors who cook here at night. She serves stewed pork leg on rice, called khao kha moo. When I made my order, she pulled out a long intestine from the mud-colored broth and chopped it into little bits. Ick. I don’t want to it intestine. She placed it onto a plate and handed it to the lady next to me. Must have been a special order.
The stewed pork tastes a lot like pulled pork, and it’s perfect on rice that can soak up some of the nice juices. It’s best eaten with the pickled greens. A small comes with half a hard boiled egg.
Thursday – Wonton Soup 30 Baht
This is my comfort food. It’s one of the few things I can order by name. Ba-mee giao moo dang. Translates to “noodles wonton pork red”. It’s egg noodle soup with wontons, red bbq pork, and some boiled greens. When I get a cold, this is what I crave.
Friday – Khao Mun Gai 30 Baht
I love how the name for Thai foods are pretty much a description of the food itself. Khao is rice, mun is oil and gai is chicken. And that’s all it is. Some chicken on oily rice. What makes this delicious is the sauce that is poured on top. It’s just ginger, garlic, chili and hoisin sauce, but it’s perfect.
So I made it a week eating for under 50 B. Most of the meals were 30 B, in fact. Everything was delicious and I was completely satisfied. So it’s totally possible to eat for cheap, if you can resist the temptation of the delicious food and the never ending socializing that comes with eating out.
Now I’m going to blow a couple of hun on a smoothie and pizza!