Overall Score 8/10
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I am sure that all of us are the same; wherever we go we tend to seek for the best local food, the authenticity of each particular region. In Chiang Rai, the highest region of Thailand, there is many quality restaurants serving authentic northern Thai dish that can proudly represent their area to all visitors. One of the places in Chiang Rai that I had gone to was the “Salungkham” (If anyone knows the meaning, please feel free to comment). This local restaurant was located in the downtown district (Amper Muang) of Chiang Rai. If you asked me how to get there, I’d have no idea. Our local friend brought us there. However, I had locked the precise location for you GPS, so you can easily input to you navigation to direct you there. As far as I know, the place was not too far from the downtown area; about five to ten minutes out. Parking was on the front, alongside the street.
The Salungkham @ Chiang Rai was a place that my local friend had recommended to try. Also my mother’s friend, who was a local, happened to bring us here. I had a great expectation on this restaurant since it was a local’s favorite pick for visitors. Another reason could be that there were no other places and this one being the only, so they had to suggest this one (hahaha). The food of this place was a true Northern Thai style, such as the Sai Aua (northern herbal sausage), Kang Hung-le (stew pork curry with bacon chunks), Kang Hoh (Stew pork curry with veggies and clear noodles), and Namprik Num (young green chili paste). All of the traditional dishes a Thai person could think of, they had it on the menu. About the price, we thought everything was cheap comparing the bills we have seen in Bangkok. Then if the price was considered from a local’s perspective, it would be pricier than their spending standard (price ranges between 150-200 Baht approximately). The list of the Salungkham’s menu can be found the tab menu as usual.
The first dish on the table was the Sai Aua, which had always been my meaty favorite. The Salungkhum @ Chiang Rai did a great job on the Sai Aua, deserved to be their local dish. The second one was the Hung-le, my most favorite northern dish. I first met this dish on my third year in college and ever since, I found myself attracting to it whenever I had a chance. The taste of Salungkham’s Hung-le was delicious to my standard. A little bit sweet, spicy, savory, and fatty succulent; all came together to perfection. What stood out about the one here was the large pieces of tender bacon chunks, which really hit the spot.
The third one was the Namprik Num. An authentic northern style chili paste that used young green chilies with less spiciness came with an assortment of local fresh vegetables and steamed. This dish was definitely a healthy choice with the most refreshing attitude (though I liked it a bit more spicy and the meat than veggies -_-‘). The forth was the Larb Kua Moo, the sautéed minced pork salad with roasted chilies. This one was difficult to go wrong. Many Larb Moo in Bangkok are always good. Larb is a simple dish, similar to the Northeastern style, popular and hard to fail. Salungkham was above standard. The fifth dish was the Kangped Kare. This one was very much like a Tom Yum in the Central, except with the Kare(flower) and a bunch of local herbs. Soothing herbal aroma was the charm of this Kangped (spicy soup).
The last one was the Salungkham’s signature dish, Tom Yum Salungkham Plachonna. After the taste, this dish proved to deserve to be the signature dish without any doubts. No wonder the restaurant was so proudly presenting this dish. Plachonna is the freshwater Catfish farmed in rice field. Spicy and sour broth was so fantastic; perfect balance of the intensive flavor. Along with a handful of fresh northern vegetables and the firm texture of fresh catfish, nothing could get in my way of enjoying this dish. Everyone on the table finished the broth in their bowl to the very last drip. A great round of applaud for Salungkham on the Authentic Northern Thai Finale.
To conclude the food review of this serious Northern Thai meal (three sets of each menu for ten people) at Salungkham @ Chiang Rai, everyone in the party of ten was impressed with the whole experience of the authentic northern dishes and the atmosphere. The food was quite delicious but I will only give 8/10 because I thought that a couple of them were just standard. I wanted all of the dishes to be like the last one (am I asking too much? Lol). After the heavy meal, we wrapped up with the locally grown pineapple, the PhooLae Pineapple. It is a mixed breed of Phuket pineapple and the mountaineer breed, Nanglae pineapple. So as a result we have the PhooLae Pineapple, which is a lovely tiny pineapple; juicy, crisp, and delightful. The northern meal ended properly with this local fresh fruits. When you have a chance to visit Chiang Rai, hope you can fit the Salungkham as one of your dinner plans. Let me speak for the local and cheer this authentic Northern Thai restaurant as well.
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