Do you know much about Southern Thai food beyond the fact that it’s super spicy? Well, you aren’t alone. Southern cuisine is not very familiar to we diners up North, with most Southern food dishes being an afterthought attached at the end of many menus around town, or at best relegated to a no-frills curb-side restaurant with little appeal beyond flavour.
The ubiquitous word kang in Thai encompasses curries, stews and soups which means that tom yam, massaman, hung-le, tom kha and such are all in the, ahem, kang! And it is from this viewpoint that the owners of Kang at Jingjai opened their first concept restaurant, Kang Vela many years ago to critical acclaim. Kang Vela won multiple awards and positive reviews from critics near and far for its focus on the art of the kang – no shortcuts with some dishes which took days upon days to make.
Following the success of Kang Vela, couple Ratchadamnoen ‘Joe’ Mueannoo and his wife Chidchanok ‘Nuch’ Mueannoo have expanded their concept from their successful Hang Dong Kang Vela into this new talk of the town – Kang at Jingjai Market.
“We want people to really have an authentic Southern Thai family style dining experience,” explained Joe as dish after aromatic dish emerged from the kitchen. “Our restaurant is casual but comfortable; our dishes unique but reasonably priced. You can come in alone for lunch and enjoy a great dish with some rice or bring your extended family and really go all out with the full menu.”
“We have always known Southern cuisine, having cooked and eaten it since childhood,” he explained. “I wanted to open the door to the South of Thailand, to Malaya cuisine, so that the people of the north can feel just at home dining on this rich cuisine as they do in their own homes.”
Joe’s parents are from Chiang Mai and Pattalung, so he is uniquely positioned to be the champion of this culinary bridge between our regions. Whether the dish is from Pattalung or Indonesia, Malaysia or Singapore, it is all about the focus on the kang, added Joe, who spends days in the kitchen perfecting each and every dish.
For instance, the classic Malay street food, Nasi Lamak, which combines rice cooked in coconut milk, boiled eggs, roasted peanuts, sambal dip made from dried prawns and fish and served with fried chicken or Otak Otak spicy fish cake, is all made from scratch and with the best ingredients from all across Thailand.
Another recommended dish is the Indonesian beef stew, or Rendang, which is similar to Thailand’s penang, but with more roasted coconut to add flavour into the tissue of the tender beef.
Simple dishes are also great accompaniments to these rich kangs and some we highly recommend are the grilled tofu cashew sauce or the shrimp golek, a Southern dish packed with herb infused shrimp meat and gently grilled to aromatic perfection.
There are beers and wines available, but you may also want to try the Kombucha soda, the salted plum with sprite or other non-alcoholic drinks to keep in step with Southern custom.
But save room for the absolutely lip-smacking local sweet corn in coconut milk.
Kang at Jing Jai has great parking, is open throughout the day, has a chilled ambient and the staff are friendly. But frankly you aren’t going there for the car park, are you? It is all about those punchy.
Jingjai Market, Room FB201-FB202, No. 46, Zone C
Atsadathon Rd., Pa Tan, Muang, Chiang Mai
Open daily: Monday – Friday 10:30 am – 9 pm.
Saturday – Sunday 9 am – 9 pm.