Tong Tem Toh is one of the most popular Northern Thai restaurants in Chiang Mai on Foursquare. So when a couple of local friends wanted to go check it out for dinner, I was definitely keen to see what it was all about.
Tong Tem Toh is one of many hundreds of eateries in the popular Nimmanhaemin area, but there’s one thing that sets this place apart – and that is the line of people that are normally waiting outside most dinner times. Ask any #foodblogger and they’ll tell you the same thing – if there’s a line of people, especially locals, you know you’re onto a good thing.
I was extremely lucky that we arrived at just the right time, and managed to sneak in to Tong Tem Toh without the usual 15-20 minute wait that happens most evenings. By the time we’d ordered, there was a queue outside and I was feeling like a VIP to be seated at a table, enjoying my beer and waiting for the food to arrive. The lunchtime trade is quieter, and you can usually get straight in at lunch.
As an authentic Northern Thai eatery, Tong Tem Toh is an outdoor affair. No air conditioning, but plenty of fans and a bucket of ice at every table to keep your beer cold. It has an undercover section and an open air garden section. We found ourselves in the garden area on this particular evening.
We ordered an assortment of different dishes from the menu to get a taste of a wide range of their most popular dishes, including our first batch below – from left: larb moo (pork), fried chicken wings, steamed chicken in banana leaves and a burmese pork curry. After this we also ordered another serve of the chicken wings and some moo yang (roasted pork shoulder). And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Thai feast without a serve of sticky rice each.
Quick thoughts on each of the dishes:
Larb Moo: Spicy, but extremely delicious. This is one of the staple dishes of Northern Thai food, and I can see why! Went extremely well with the sticky rice, and the pork crackling on the left of the plate was super crispy.
Fried Chicken Wings: One word: Wow. Although the individual chicken wing was fairly small, there was a very generous servin.. These things were super crispy on the outside, yet the meat fell off the bone when you bit into it. Absolutely delicious. Super addictive. Probably unhealthy, but that didn’t stop us from ordering a second bowl of them. The texture reminded me of potato wedges because they were super crispy on the outside. The coating wasn’t sticky at all, so it was super easy to get stuck into them without making a mess of your hands. I’m already thinking about the next time I’ll visit Tong Tem Toh and order these.
Steamed Chicken in Banana Leaf: This was probably my least favourite of the dishes we tried. It was very mushy and a little bit devoid of flavour.
Burmese Curry: Not strictly Thai food, but we were told that it was a favourite with westerners, so we had to try it. The curry sauce was extremely delicious when you dipped a ball of the sticky rice in it. Lots of cloves of garlic in this one.
Moo Yang (Not Pictured): We ordered a plate of this as part of our second round of food. Moo yang (roasted pork shoulder) is a very popular northern Thai dish, quite often cooked on the roadside by small food stands. Tong Tem Toh have an inside kitchen for most dishes, but their moo yang is cooked outside of the restaurant, on a grill that is placed out on the street. It’s one of the dishes that I eat regularly in Chiang Mai, and Tong Tem Toh’s version certainly did not disappoint. The moo yang was very moist and juicy, and their sauce was extremely spicy and delicious. I would definitely order this again next time I go back.
Location: Nimmanhaemin Soi 13
Hours: 11am-11pm. Open 7 days.