You can't go to Chiang Mai without trying a Khan Toke Feast. In case you wondering what it is, it's the Thai equivilent of a smorgasbord served in khans (small serving bowls) on a toke (low, round table). You get to sit sprawled on the floor on mats and triangular cushions while you feast. If this is not hedonistic enough, there will be distracting stage shows where the staff try to roll about on knives, dance with umbrellas and the like.
What's there not to like?
This meal originated as a culinary/ cultural showcase for Westerners in the 50's and it's guaranteed to appeal to the tourist in anyone, including travel-cynics like myself.
Anyway, there's 2 decent places in town to try the Khan Toke. One of them is Khum Khan Toke and the other is the Old Chiang Mai Cultural Centre I went to the former since the food was reportedly better.
Favorite Dish Everything that was served on the toke was delicious. Let me describe each dish in a clockwise fashion, starting from the deep fried chicken since it's instantly recognisable.
Beside it is a bowl of crispy deep-fried vermicelli noodles,
followed by "Nam Prik Ong" (minced pork cooked with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions and chilies),
"Cab Moo" (fried pork skin),
a bowl of fried vegetables
and lastly "Gaeng Hang Lay" (pork curry with garlic, ginger and other spices).
These dishes were eaten with raw vegetables, "Kao Nieow" (sticky rice) and the best chilli dip in the world. Yes, you tease the Nam Prik Awng ( the fiery red dip seen in the centre ) occasionally out of the Khan with a piece of pork rind or silver of cucumber. It's not exactly a healthy meal but an indulgent feast that will sweeten your holiday memory.
Cost - 1500B
Tip: Call up the restaurant, request for a minivan pickup (free) since the sprawling restaurant is situated outside the city near the highway(God only knows where).
Tip2:This is a bloody smosgarsbord so eat your money's worth and get your dishes refilled at least 10 times!
Khantoke is a popular eating way for the locals on special occassion. There are several places you can go for a Khantoke meal, the popular ones bein g old Chiang Mai - we chose it becos of the hilltribe dance show and there are some night stalls selling tribal crafts too. Other popular Khantoke places are Khuim Kaew Palace, Khum Khantoke and also Nakorn Lanna. I have to say i did enjoy some of the dances, like finger nail dance, sword dance. The second part of the show was outside in an open area, mainly short brief dances by hill tribe people. Along the way to the tribal show was small stalls - which i bought a skirt with embroidery for a mere 200 baht. Well - i have great ideas - i was going to cut out the embroidery and frame it up or make it to a pillow case!!!
Favorite Dish The food is standard - it is served on a round elevated lacquered tray - and there was fried chicken drumsticks which i was so amused watching all the guests feast with their fingers and chomping them and tucking away merrily. I was not fond of it, cos i have sort of given up eating chicken since bird flu scare - so i tried a small morsel and the taste was offensive. My husband thot it wsa finger licking KFCs!!!!Also available was Burmese dry pork curry, and crucnchy sweet dried noodles - it was more like a sweet toping. And also good serving of stir fried cabbages which was my main course!!! i even had second helpings. I enjoyed the vege mixed with a dipping sauce of chilli and tomato which was actually meant for the pork crackling (yikes). A very odd addition to the meal was fried banana fritters. Served with sticky rice or plain rice, and vegetable soup. tea or cofffee and rice crackers for dessert. Drinks are extras, and the meal cost 660 baht for two.
Our hosts took there the first night we arrived in Chiang Mai. It was raining but restaurant staff provided HUGE umbrellas! Inside, decorations were breathtaking. We sat on the floor -- since we can't sit cross-legged for too long, there is space under each low table to stretch your legs. :-)
Show was made up of local dances, music, etc. It was amazing!
Favorite Dish Food was served Lanna-style -- each table received a tray which was refilled as necessary. It was plenty! The specialty here is sticky rice -- I really liked it. In fact, I liked everything -- just be open-minded and try everything, it's great!
See website below for more information!