[Chiang Mai] Northern Thai at Tong Tem Toh

Tong Tem Toh is the long running restaurant specializing exclusively in Northern Thai cuisine in the now trendy Nimmanhaemin neighborhood. It’s every tourist from Bangkok’s first stop when they visit Chiang Mai. There are many other northern Thai restaurants scattered around the city but it’s Tong Tem Toh that draws the crowds. Despite always having a perfectly translated menu and a staff that speaks some English, it used to be rare to ever find a non-Thai eating there. It’s only in the last 10 years that they’ve drawn a more international crowd. Now there is a long wait for a table most nights, especially in winter when everyone from the south visits Chiang Mai for it’s “cold” weather.

My photos don’t do the food justice. Every dish is spot on. The savory jackfruit salad has the texture of meat. The grilled fermented pork with egg in banana leaf is the best version in Chiang Mai. The nam prik ong could easily pass for a pork Bolognese in an upscale NYC restaurant. The steamed vegetables that accompany it were a little skimpy on this night as they were out of pumpkin and cucumbers. The boneless fried fish is perfectly fried and moist. I didn’t get a photo of the hanglay curry. It’s the only dish that may not be perfectly authentic. It’s usually stewed with chunks of pork that are mostly fat. At Tong, they use a much leaner cut. There’s nothing to bring home for my dogs.

Pro tip: The original location on Nimmanhaemin Soi 13 closed during Covid so they could renovate and expand. While they were closed they opened a second location 4 blocks away on Nimmanhaemin Soi 17. When renovations were finished they kept both locations. The menu, food, and prices are identical. Even the décor is similar. Most importantly, there is rarely more than a 5-10 minute wait. Avoid the crowds and visit the Soi 17 location.

Jackfruit salad

Grilled eggplant

Nam prik ong with steamed vegetables

Kor moo yang (grill pork neck)

Young coconut shoots with chicken

Fried fish

Pak wan (sweet leaves with egg)

Grilled fermented pork with egg in banana leaf