Kevin and I discovered a restaurant last week in the Nimman neighborhood of Chiang Mai that we’ve decided to make a part of our regular lineup. We’ve lovingly dubbed it “The Chicken Shack”. One of the toughest things to me about traveling abroad is being bold enough to walk into a restaurant that doesn’t have any sort of english menu. Sometimes you get lucky and someone working there speaks a little English, but we’ve gotten pretty comfortable lately with pointing and using hand gestures to try to order our food. We’ve also mastered the art of creepily lurking outside a restaurant, spying on people ordering and paying for food until we have a vague idea of what we’re getting ourselves into and how much it’ll cost us. Sure, there are plenty of restaurants in Chiang Mai that cater to tourists, but we’ve found that in general those places are less tasty and can cost several times more than the little hole-in-the-wall places we’ve come to love.
The Chicken Shack is located on Nimman Soi 11, just west of Siri Manklajarn road. You can smell the chicken grilling from a block away… just follow your nose. For those with a less acute sense of smell, here’s a link to the Google street view.
We went in for lunch and ordered a whole chicken with rice (the photo above is just my half!) for 150 Thai Baht (less than $5), plus a plate of Som Tam for 40 Thai Baht (just over $1). This was definitely a little bit of a splurge for us now that we’ve grown accustomed to spending less than $2/person per meal. Luckily, we were uncomfortably full for several hours, and we weren’t hungry again until maybe 8 hours after eating. Actually, I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it was a lot of bang for our 6 bucks!
For folks unfamiliar with Som Tam, it’s made with shredded green papaya, garlic, fish sauce, tomatoes, peanuts, carrots, green beans, and spicy chilis. It is one of our all time favorite Thai dishes. If you don’t like spicy, be sure to try to let them know – this usually packs quite the punch! For anyone wanting to try this at home, here’s a recipe. My sister-in-law Beth will sometimes make a version of this using all shredded carrots instead of papaya – carrots make a great substitution when you live somewhere without access to good tropical fruit!
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Have you had any crazy dining experiences on your travels? Have you ever accidentally eaten something you normally wouldn’t be up for because of a language barrier? What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever eaten? Please leave us a note to let us know!