Rating: 8 / 10
Recommended highly by some students of Hanuman Aspler at Thai Food Master, I needed some relief from my month long hunt for the perfect Khao Soi. I had been forewarned that the restaurant might look completely deserted but; A: they are open, and B: the food is amazing.
I walked in around lunchtime on a wednesday to find the place completely empty but for the owners family sitting at a table filling condiment bottles. I took a seat directly under a fan since the open style restaurant had no AC and today was fiery.
I perused the menu, for reasons even I don't know, because I had already decided to try the 2 dishes that were recommended and come back again to taste other plates if they held up. The lady took my order and returned after a few seconds with an ice cold Leo to take the edge off.
Minutes later the food came out in a flurry of activity. The server took the plate of cucumber and chicken salad, asked me if I liked it spicy to which the answer was naturally "Yes", grabbed some condiments, the bowl containing the dressing, and proceeded to mix it in front of me. A plate of deep fried pork with some julienne ginger and spring onions finished off the light lunch.
It's not often I find a Yunnanese restaurant in the middle of Chiang Mai, but since this had been spoken of with such reverence, I had to sample it. And glad am I that I did. This was exceptionally delicious food. The sort of food that doesn't wow you in gastronomical circus routines, but sits deep and starts to worm it's way into your thoughts in vulnerable moments.
Everything tasted purposeful and balanced. The cucumber salad was fresh and crunchy and spicy and tart and made you want to keep returning. The pork was a touch dry, but seasoned well and played nicely adding that fatty counter-balance to the bright salad dish.
I will most certainly move this restaurant to the top 10 places i've found in the 20 years of visiting Chiang Mai, and make it a regular stop the next time I can safely return to Thailand. I only hope the lack of customers before Covid doesn't mean that during the pandemic there are none, because after all the places that had to shut down I sincerely hope this one survives.
These recommendations are just personal opinions based on my palate, things change, chefs get fired or replaced, places open-close, relocate, so take it all with a pinch of MSG and discover your own gems too. But please do try a few of these, they have been researched exhaustively.
"Sadness is tempered by umami, grief by the motion of slurping, hope restored in the ladling of glistening, fatty broth"