After a long travel day, my sister was exhausted and opted to stay in the hotel. David, however, was still eager to explore a little more. He recalled of a nearby temple that he wanted to visited and I agreed to go for a walk in and step outside the Old City Hall to see what we could find. We passed some food stalls, lots of hotels and some spas/massage parlors. We even encountered some herds of dogs that immediately put me on edge as I’m not used to encountering animals. Despite our efforts to locate ourselves via Google map, we didn’t end up finding the temple he intended, although we did visit another than was beautifully ornate as well. By the time we finished our exploration, we were beginning to get very hungry. We noticed that as it crept towards dusk, stalls were beginning to set up across the road. Immediately I noticed one distinct person among the crowd of people. It’s the cowboy hat lady!
I first heard of this stall through Anthony Bourdain’s feature of her. I knew that she was a food stall vendor and that whatever she was cooking up, must have been delicious. As we ventured closer to her, the aroma in the air turned savoury and enticed us closer. There were plenty of people surrounding her station and lots of seating behind her. We were able to get seated rather quickly with limited issues with the staff. It was still pretty light out so I imagine her stall really gets packed at the evening sets in.We decided to get two large plates as it appeared to be a complete meal. The pork was exceptionally tender without losing its integrity and turning into mush. The braised soy flavour permeated every part of the meat and seeped into the rice as it sat. The beautiful soft boiled egg complimented the protein and added creaminess to the dish. On the side were pickled vegetables to help cut through all the fat. It brightened the dish and added a sharp tang. Each bite was satisfying and flavourful. It was tempting to order another plate but I held off. We did order a to-do meal to bring back to my sister. Because we were already seated, I didn’t have to get in line for a to-go order – a sort of loop hole into the system. There were large groups of families, which better suited the full plates of meat. I wish I could taste this one more time.
Was it the most outstanding meal? Not at all but it was satisfying and the atmosphere couldn’t be beat. We were only a few feet away from her and she continued to chop the meat – a lady I had once only seen through the tv now stood before me. The surreal experience was unforgettable. After we finished our food, we explored the market a little bit more to see if there was anything else worth buying. David got a fruit smoothie from one vendor and we picked up mango and sticky rice to also bring back to my sister. By the time we left, people were only starting to really gravitate towards the market. Unfortunately the day had taken its toll on us and we were very eager to go back to the hotel to rest before another day of touring.
Side story: On the way home, we encountered a whole brood of dogs when we walked down the wrong path. There must have been almost 2 dozen of them in different species and sizes. I don’t think I’ve been more alarmed on the whole trip than in that moment. We didn’t push our luck and walked a different path instead. Beware of the dogs!
Cow Girl’s Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak
Address: Tambon Si Phum, Amphoe Mueang Chiang Mai, Chang Wat Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand
Open hours: 5 pm onwards
Price: 30 THB for a plate