Jok Somphet - Chiang Mai, Thailand
Rating: 8 / 10
I have a childish fascination with "jok", or "congee" hailing from my times in the far east 20 years ago ploughing down various versions of this simple food in all sorts of situations. Frosty mornings in Taipei, lunches in Hong Kong, cooking my own version in the kitchen in Oslo to ward off the impending doom of winter.
It may not be a culinary miracle, but is porridge? or grits?... they are dishes we have become accustomed to and grown fond of despite their gastronomic un-adventure. Nobody ever won a Michelin star for an idly.
Jok Sampet has the clout of being open 24 hrs a day, something precious few places in Chiang Mai can boast. Therefore, inevitably they attract the raucous post-midnight crowd wanting a quick fix rather than 7/11 or Mikkie D's, but if you wait just 30 minutes and head over you will catch the cretins on their way out, bleary eyed and stupid as the day they left their mothers hoo-haa in Darwin or Florida. Then peace is restored, you can pull up a chair, order a jok (WITH AN EGG! WITH AN EGG!) and await the comforting pleasure that costs only 40 baht.
Delicious, luxurious, rich, rice porridge, speckled with fresh ginger, scallions, condiments and that soft poached egg just begging you to shatter it's thin membrane and allow the rich, orange divinity to flow unto your bowl and colour your offering. Sit back, scoop up that velvety love, let it sink to further regions of your digestinal tract, and know that you are putting a band-aid on a sore that hasn't appeared yet.
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.
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"Tastes are subjective, so take everything with a pinch of salty tears"