Along with the beautiful scenery, and the fresh mountain air, one of the main reasons I wanted to take a day trip from Chiang Rai to the small village of Mae Salong (แม่สลอง), was to eat.
Mae Salong (แม่สลอง) is a small ethnically Yunnanese Chinese village, located in the hills of northern Thailand, about a 1.5 – 2 hour drive from central Chiang Rai city.
(More about our day trip to Mae Salong coming soon)
Im Pochana Restaurant (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา)
As soon as we arrived to Mae Salong (แม่สลอง), our first order of business, before doing anything else, was to eat lunch.
There are a number of different restaurants in the small village, but the restaurant I really wanted to eat at was Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา).
In Mae Salong(แม่สลอง), I honestly felt like I was back in China, everything from the streets, to the restaurant we sat at, looked and felt like China.
Moo khua Yunnan (หมูคั่วยูนนาน)
If you’re a pork lover, you might love the moo khua Yunnan (หมูคั่วยูนนาน).
I had no clue what it was going to be before we ordered it, and our curiosity is the real reason we even ordered it in the first place – in Thai it just means pork roasted Yunnan style.
It turned out to be a plate of crispy pork rinds, like chicharrones, stir fried up with some garlic and green onions. It wasn’t actually my preference of a dish, but I have to admit it was quite tasty.
Price – 100 THB
Yam bai cha (ยำใบชา)
Mae Salong (แม่สลอง) is a tea dominated region of Thailand, and I was happy to see on their menu, that they use tea in a dish called yam bai cha (ยำใบชา).
Unlike Myanmar style tea salad, which is made with pickled tea leaves, this salad was just mixed with freshly picked tea leaves.
This dish wasn’t so Chinese, but more modern Thai style, including a can of tuna, onions, tomatoes, lemongrass, and tea leaves all dressed in a lightly sweet lime juice dressing.
It wasn’t my favorite dish of the meal, but it was nice and fresh tasting, and I did like how they are making use of tea leaves.
Price – 100 THB
Kha moo nam daeng (ขาหมูน้ำแดง)
Probably the most famous dish to eat in Mae Salong(แม่สลอง) is kha moo nam daeng (ขาหมูน้ำแดง), which is also known as Yunnanese style braised pork leg.
We ordered the small plate, and it was still HUGE – it really could have been for 4 people – though I was quite happy to eat it all with just Ying. I’ll explain more about it below, but I’ll say that it was excellent from the start.
Price – 150 THB
Under direct influence from Yunnanese cuisine, the kha moo nam daeng (ขาหมูน้ำแดง) is typically eaten with mantou (หมั่นโถ Chinese steamed buns) instead of rice, something you won’t ever see in most of Thailand.
The mantou (หมั่นโถ) was incredibly soft and fluffy and airy, just slightly sweet, and even though I’m not a huge lover of bread, I have to say that tearing off bits of the steamed bread and eating it with bites of tender braised pork and pork juice was fantastic.
Price – 15 THB
Ok, let’s get back to the pork…
The braised pork leg was amazingly tender, I’m sure it was slow braised for hours.
What I immediatley loved about the Yunnanese Mae Salong version of kha moo nam daeng (ขาหมูน้ำแดง), was that it was probably the least sweet version that I’ve ever had in Thailand – I’m not even sure if sugar was in the recipe – it really was that un-sweet.
The flavor of the braise was mild, but I could detect the subtle flavor of soy sauce, star anise, and cinnamon, and maybe a hint of black pepper.
One of my favorite braised pork legs is in Chiang Mai, and that’s delicious, but I think this version, which was not sweet at all, and so meaty, was one of my favorites so far.
I’m not a lover of pig skin, it’s just too wriggly and too fatty, for me to eat very much of it, but after peeling away the skin, the meat underneath was so thick and so tender – it was wonderful.
The kha moo nam daeng (ขาหมูน้ำแดง) also came with a chili dipping sauce, which tasted to me like chili and vinegar, and again, it wasn’t sweet at all.
Tender bites of braised pork, covered in chili sauce, was wonderful, and there was so much meat.
Pad mee Yunnan (ผัดหมี่ยูนนาน)
As good as the braised pork was, my actual favorite dish of the meal was pad mee Yunnan (ผัดหมี่ยูนนาน), stir fried Yunnan style noodles.
The noodles were some kind of yellow noodles, I’m not sure exactly what they were made from, but they were soft and starchy.
What I loved so much about the noodles, was that they were fried in minimal oil, so they weren’t greasy at all, and they were fried on what must have been a very hot fire, because I could taste a smokey flavor in the egg and vegetables.
Price – 60 THB
The pad mee Yunnan (ผัดหมี่ยูนนาน) included a mix of sliced vegetables, onions, carrots, cabbage, and egg.
If you eat at Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา), you don’t want to miss their Yunnan fried noodles, they are done extremely well.
Here’s an aerial view of our full lunch spread.
The drive to get to Mae Salong (แม่สลอง) was beautiful, but our lunch table was even more spectacular!
If you every visit the small Yunnanese Chinese village of Mae Salong in Chiang Rai province, THE restaurant to eat at is Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา).
My two favorite dishes were the kha moo Yunnan, the wonderful braised pork leg, and my favorite dish of the meal, was the fried Yunnanese noodles, which were stunning.
Eating at Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา) was a wonderful experience, and along with enjoying the beautiful views and fresh air in Mae Salong, my stomach was extremely happy.
Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา) – Mae Salong, Thailand
Address: Provincial Highway 1089, Mae Fa Luang, Chiang Rai, Thailand
Phone: 089-637 5290
Open hours: 8:30 am – 8 pm daily
ที่อยู่ 1089 (ระวังสับสนกับร้านน้องอิ่มโภชนา) แม่สลองนอก , แม่ฟ้าหลวง , เชียงราย 57110
โทร. 089-637 5290, 053-765 297, 080 5000910
เปิดบริการทุกวัน : 08:30 – 20:00
How to get there
Once you get to Mae Salong, you have to drive all the way to the center of the the village, and then turn into the market (which is on the right hand side).
You should see the sign for Im Pochana (ร้านอิ่มโภชนา), but I think it’s only written in Thai. Go up the small hill into the parking lot, which is by a Chinese looking building that sort of looks like an empty temple, and in the back of that, is the restaurant.
If you need help finding it, just ask someone in the village, and they will be happy to point you in the right direction.