Covering a multitude of flavours from a multitude of locations across Thailand, Ging Grai on Soi 11 Nimmanhaemin Road is a unique little restaurant serving classical Thai dishes which you have most likely never tried before.
As all of us who live here know, Thai food is far more than green curries and pad Thai, but yet most of us do tend to stick with our favourite dishes on a daily routine. So once in a while it is wonderful to be reminded that our cuisine is so much richer and varied than what we are used to.
Ging Grai is the name of a sea fig tree at the home of Thanaruek ‘Eh’ Laoraowwirodge in Khon Kaen Province where he grew up. It symbolises, for him the inspiration for as well as the growth of his life which has led him to this restaurant here in Chiang Mai.
Eh has lived all across Thailand. In his childhood he cooked with his grandmother in her home in Trad province to the east, he used to visit his grandfather who was from central Thailand, having also lived in the northeast of the country, before finally moving to Chiang Mai.
The restaurant aims to introduce not just delicious dishes, but local food culture to its diners, selling charming curated little local goodies in its shop downstairs.
Let’s start with the north where you can dig into a spicy minced pork in banana leaf or a delicious classic hung-me pork belly curry. Order a side of rice vermicelli in spicy traditional Lanna curry which comes with the classic Chiang Rai addition of dried opera flowers and topped with bean sprouts, pickled lettuce, coriander and fried garlic.
Then there is the steamed meat with galangal chili paste served infused with northern herbs. Yum.
Perhaps next we will visit the central region of Thailand and order rice vermiceli with pineapple, pounded dried shrimps, local vegetables, and mixed with coconut milk next to a tom yum prawns in coconut milk or clear soup to be cooled down by a Ging Grai fried rice with prawns or pork or chicken or a stir-fried rice noodle with prawns.
Eastern dishes include grilled premium local beef with Isaan chili dip, chicken with Isaan herbs filled with fermented fish sauce with dill, sweet basil and scallions, fried Isaan style pork and rice sausages with flavours straight from Khon Kaen or a tender fried sun dried squid served with spicy seafood sauce.
One of our favourite dishes from this region was the sweet fish sauce paste with steamed jellyfish, a favourite of villagers along the Trad coast. The jellyfish is picked in bark adding a certain aroma as well as bounce to the meat.
End the meal with something sweet, again with options from all four regions. There is the crispy steamed perilla cake with natural cane sugar, the kamom intanil coconut granita and so many more exciting new discoveries to be had!
And before you leave, stop by the shop to grab some local munchies from all four regions to take home.
Pork Stick Original Flavor / Jungle Curry Flavor / Northeastern Larb Flavor / Northern Larb Flavor (220.-)
Popcorn Chili Paste Flavor with Pork Crackling and Dried Shrimp / Jungle Curry Flavor / Northeastern Larb Flavor / Northern Larb Flavor (115.-)
Ging Grai Curry Powder (Grandma Somsri recipe) (119.-)
Dried Roasted Tilapia chili paste and dried roasted tilapia chili paste (195.-)