Epicurean Journey Through Isaan: 7 Must-Try Dishes

By Ivan PetrenkoApr 3, 2024 10:30 AMNews
Green grass field near mountains under white clouds and blue sky during daytime
Green grass field near mountains under white clouds and blue sky during daytime. Source: unsplash

Northeast Thailand, known as Isaan, is a culinary goldmine, offering a treasure trove of flavors that defy the conventional Thai food narrative. Embark on an epicurean journey through Isaan to discover dishes that encapsulate the essence of this vibrant region, from the fiery spice of duck laab to the unique tang of weeping tiger steak.

1. Pla ra som tam: A Bold Start in Loei Begin your culinary adventure with Isaan’s iconic papaya salad in Loei, where the pla ra gives som tam an unforgettable umami punch. Som Tam Muang Loei stands out for its family-fermented pla ra, offering a som tam that's both authentic and extraordinary.

2. Gai yang: Charred Perfection No Isaan food tour is complete without gai yang. This marinated, grilled chicken, a staple street food, finds its epitome at Seri Grilled Chicken Khao Suan Kwang in Khon Kaen. Here, the chicken, infused with lemongrass and grilled over charcoal, achieves a perfect balance of flavors.

3. Duck laab: A Spicy Delicacy Duck laab, a spicy salad rich in herbs and chili, is a testament to Isaan's bold flavors. Udon Thani's Ban Nuea Laab-Koi is renowned for its rendition, perfectly balancing spicy, salty, and sour notes.

4. Weeping tiger steak: A Tale of Flavor Dive into the legend with weeping tiger steak at Mae Suk Isaan Restaurant Lap Koi, where the brisket's marination and charcoal grilling produce a dish so flavorful it could make a tiger cry.

5. Gaeng om gai: A Curry Unlike Any Other Explore the subtleties of Isaan curry with gaeng om gai at Jae Daeng Gaeng Om. This dish, a simple yet aromatic curry packed with regional greens and chicken, showcases the complexity of Isaan cuisine.

6. Soop naw mai: A Bamboo Favorite In Isaan, bamboo shoots transform into soop naw mai, a refreshing salad that exemplifies the region's knack for turning simple ingredients into culinary delights. Han Laab Ai Tong in Khon Kaen is your go-to for this and other Isaan specialties.

7. Jaew: The Ultimate Relish End your journey with jaew, an aubergine chili relish that embodies Isaan's love for punchy, fermented flavors. Ue Kia Hiang in Khon Kaen offers quality jars of this beloved condiment, perfect for taking a piece of Isaan home with you.

Savoring Isaan: Tips for Travelers

  • Embrace the Spice: Isaan cuisine is known for its bold flavors. Start with milder dishes if you're not accustomed to heat.
  • Market Exploration: Visit local markets for the freshest ingredients and a glimpse into Isaan's food culture.
  • Local Insights: Engage with locals to discover hidden gems and authentic eating spots.
  • Pair Wisely: Enhance your dining experience with sticky rice and local beverages for a truly Isaan meal.

Embarking on this gastronomic exploration through Isaan offers not just a taste of its distinctive dishes but an immersion into a rich culinary tradition that's as flavorful as it is fascinating. From the smoky allure of gai yang to the complex layers of gaeng om gai, each dish tells a story of culture, tradition, and the land itself.

Top Articles
Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights

Top 10 most affordable airlines in Europe: which carriers offer budget flights and convenient ways to find cheap flights

May 27, 2024 09:05 AM
The coziest places for senior vacationers in America

Golden vacations: ideal U.S. destinations for older travelers

May 26, 2024 10:46 AM

Top 10 safest airlines in the U.S.: statistics, causes of accidents and the world leader in flight reliability

May 25, 2024 09:13 AM

Oceanfront vacations: Top 9 Miami resorts with golf courses, tennis courts and glamorous parties

May 24, 2024 09:10 AM
More News
An airplane landing on a runway with mountains in the background

Chaos in the Skies: Miscommunication Leads to Air Traffic Incident

May 28, 2024 01:30 AM
High-speed train passing through a cityscape with tall buildings

Hitachi Rail Begins Testing UK's First Intercity Battery Train

May 28, 2024 00:05 AM

Spanish Family Restores 18th-Century Historic Homes and Transforms Them into Hotels

May 27, 2024 23:30 PM

Tanzania Promotes Tourism to Attract Chinese Visitors

May 27, 2024 22:32 PM
House on cliff in Scopello, Sicily

Exploring Sicily's Top Photo Spots

May 27, 2024 22:00 PM
Bell aboard Sea Cloud II during the cruise

Sea Cloud Cruises Announces Special Barbados Sailing in 2025

May 27, 2024 21:30 PM
Details of the Disney cruise liner

Disney Treasure Cruise: A €20 000 Magical Voyage

May 27, 2024 21:00 PM
Scenic view of Andalusia

Emage Fest 2024: The Premier Afro Urban Music Festival in Southern Spain

May 27, 2024 20:36 PM
Glass jar for tips in the bar

Should Tourists Tip at European Hotels? Insights from Rick Steves

May 27, 2024 20:00 PM

Ibiza Residents Protest Against Overtourism

May 27, 2024 19:30 PM

Exploring the Azores: Walking the Historic Trails

May 27, 2024 19:00 PM
A panoramic view of Athens, Greece

Hospitality Industry Titans Converge in Athens for HSMAI Europe’s Groundbreaking Event

May 27, 2024 18:34 PM
Travel with the night train

Guide to Riding Sleeper Trains in Europe

May 27, 2024 18:00 PM
icebergs and alp mountains facing calm body of water

The Arctic Emerges as Winter’s Hottest New Market for European Airlines

May 27, 2024 17:30 PM
Man playing with the dogs on the beach

Pet-Friendly Beaches in Portugal

May 27, 2024 17:00 PM

Jet2.com Unveils Extensive Winter Sun Flight Program from London Stansted

May 27, 2024 16:33 PM

Bark Air's First Flight for Dogs Takes Off Successfully

May 27, 2024 16:00 PM
purple and white stick with white background

Millennials and Gen Z Seek Human Connection Through Small-Group Travel

May 27, 2024 15:30 PM
Group of people traveling mountains together

Tours and Packages Market Ups the Ante on Experiential Vacations

May 27, 2024 15:00 PM
Dark storm clouds over a rural road and wind turbines

Midwest on High Alert: Tornado Threat and Texas Heatwave Spell Trouble for Travelers

May 27, 2024 14:32 PM
round silver colored pendant necklace

The Bizarre Cultural Differences That Can Make Vacation Travel a Challenge

May 27, 2024 13:30 PM
Handgun with bullets on a white background

TSA Intercepts Fifth Gun This Month at Pittsburgh International Airport

May 27, 2024 12:36 PM

Albania's Wild, Blue Heart: A Triumph in Habitat Protection

May 27, 2024 11:30 AM

Taylor Swift Fans Get Relief as Network Rail Pauses Engineering Works for Cardiff Concert

May 27, 2024 10:34 AM
Singapore airliner in the sky

Boeing 777 Returns to Singapore After Fatal Turbulence Incident

May 27, 2024 09:30 AM
Niagara Falls at dawn with mist rising

Canada's Travel Boom: Your Guide to Exploring the Great White North

May 27, 2024 08:35 AM