SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) – Small Birds, But Flavors You’ll Love

By Mark Wiens 40 Comments
Check out their awesome mod grill
Check out their awesome mod grill

Greeting you as you enter is the unique SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) grill, a modified stand up charcoal rotisserie that has been engineered to roast a chicken to perfection.

As the birds go round and round, they get heat from the side, so the skin oil drops downwards and doesn’t cause any grease fires from below – which could potentially flame up and burn black spots on the chicken.

At SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) they’re doing it right!

I had read about SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) in the New York Times, a restaurant Thai chef Andy Ricker had recommended in Chiang Mai.

SP Chicken - Chiang Mai
These little guys won’t let you down!

SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) is a Thai Isaan restaurant located in central Chiang Mai.

Their gai yang (ไก่ย่าง) is what they’re most known for, but they also have the full spectrum of Isaan food available. Their menu is in both Thai and English, so you should have no trouble ordering.

The chicken roast upside down, slowly spinning, to ensure an equal heat penetrates the birds.

I also noticed that the guy in charge of roasting the chicken was removing them from the roasting rack every few minutes and brushing off any black charcoal particles that may have popped out of the smoldering coals in the grill – doing some good quality control.

gai yang (ไก่ย่าง)
Golden skin on the gai yang (ไก่ย่าง)

If you’re like me, the first thought you’re going to have is, “that’s a pretty small chicken.”

And that would be correct (check out the size of the one I made).

You can literally eat the entire drumstick in one bite… I know because I did!

The chickens are pretty small, but that doesn’t mean they’re not good; It means that you won’t want to share with anyone else, you’ll want to eat the entire whole chicken yourself.

SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง)
Whole gai yang (ไก่ย่าง)

My wife and I ordered the whole gai yang (ไก่ย่าง), and it came quickly to the table with a trio of different sauces.

Two of the sauces were the sweet tomato ketchupy sauce known as nam jim gai (น้ำจิ้มไก่) and the third was a wondrous version of nam jim jaew (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว), a house made combination of chili flakes, fish sauce, lime juice and green onions.

Price – 140 THB for the whole chicken (ไก่ย่าง SP 1ตัว 140 บาท)

Nam jim jaew (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว)
Nam jim jaew (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว) – the good stuff!

The nam jim jaew (น้ำจิ้มแจ่ว) was incredibly good, not sweet at all like it can be at other restaurants, but this one was sour and spicy and awesome.

Grilled chicken
Glistening chicken!

Ok, back to that chicken…

It was marvelously succulent, and again, though it was such a small little guy, the flavors were just packed into it. Another thing that made it so tasty was that it wasn’t overcooked and dry, but moist – even the white meat.

The skin was almost like duck skin, golden brown, slightly crispy, and just intensely tasty.

A quick dip into that sauce, and I was happy.

ยำตับหวานหมู
Yam dab wan moo (ยำตับหวานหมู) – Thai liver salad

Along with the gai yang (ไก่ย่าง), I also ordered a plate of yam dab wan moo (ยำตับหวานหมู), basically a salad or larb made from slices of pork liver.

The liver was nice and tender, not rubbery, and it included a great mix of shallots, green onions, and sprigs of fresh mint. The dressing was nice and sour and the fresh lime juice is what stood out to give it such great flavor.

Price – 50 THB

ส้มตำปู
Som tam boo (ส้มตำปู)

For my vegetable dish, I chose som tam boo (ส้มตำปู), green papaya salad with crab.

Again, just like the liver salad, what stood out to me was the use of fresh lime juice and lots of it, which made all the difference.

At SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) they do an excellent job at making a well balanced Thai salad – salty, sour, slightly sweet, and spicy.

Price – 40 THB

ข้าวเหนียว
Khao neow (ข้าวเหนียว), sticky rice

Although I forgot to take a photo of it, I also had the tom saab neua, a hot and sour beef soup. It was excellent as were the rest of the dishes, and included plenty of tender beef in a lime sour broth packed with chillies and herbs.

Also, no som tam and gai yang meal is complete without sticky rice, which at SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) comes in a glass bowl.

SP ไก่ย่าง
SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง) – Chiang Mai, Thailand

The Bottom Line

Their gai yang (ไก่ย่าง) may be small, but it’s just loaded with flavors and absolutely delicious.

The rest of the dishes were also excellent, nicely tangy from fresh lime juice and not too salty. An excellent choice for Isaan food in Chiang Mai.

Check out more Chiang Mai eating options here.

SP Chicken (SP ไก่ย่าง)

Address: 9/1 Sam Larn Soi 1, Phra Singh, Muang Chiang Mai, Thailand
Open hours: 11 am – 9 pm daily
Phone: 080 500 5035
Prices: About 100 – 200 THB per person

ที่อยู่ 9/1 สามล้าน ซอย1, ตำบล ศรีภูมิ , อำเภอเมือง เชียงใหม่
เปิดบริการทุกวัน 11:00 – 21:00 น.
โทร. 080 500 5035

How to get there:

From the west side of Chiang Mai’s old city (Bunrueang Rit Rd.), walk down Samlan Soi 1 about 100 meters or so, and you’ll see SP Chicken on your right hand side.

40 comments. I'd love to hear from you!

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  • Barbara

    2 years ago

    Now closes at 5pm, I found out the hard way!

  • Mario

    2 years ago

    I was there yesterday. Chicken was tasty indeed . The sauce was too strong overpowering everything. Papaya salad was below average. (The best papaya salad I am having is in the evening at the Chiang Mai gate ).

  • Paul Mario

    2 years ago

    We had a delicious roasted chicken when we tried the rotisserie chicken concept demonstrated on our first visit to Chiang Mai. At that time it seemed they were just testing a solar powered food truck, but we recently visited the new shop in Hang Dong, and from what we tasted, this is still one of the best experiences we had!

  • Cam

    3 years ago

    Hey mark,
    Awesome meal at sp chicken last night.

  • Hsu Lin

    4 years ago

    Hey Mark,
    Was looking forward to this for a long time also….but it was totally not what I expected. The chicken was barely warm. Although it was moist and tender, the nam jim jeaw was lacking in punch. Also ordered the liver salad, but it looked nothing like the one you had. This pale plate of liver came decorated only with spring onions and had an underlying stench of pee. Sad to say, but perhaps these places know who you are and prepare themselves before you dine there and give you the perked up version, while the rest of us minions get the dud version!
    It’s unfair, but that’s life!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Hsu, sorry to hear about that. Hopefully it was just an off day!

  • Poehlmann

    4 years ago

    I was there on a frieday at 1p.m The lokal was empty exept the very busy staff: One woman was doing the homework for school with her son, 3 where speaking with their smartphones,one was preparing food – her own I realized when she ate it, i think it was the chief who made papaya salad- also for himself, also 5 ore 6 chicken hang around on the cold grill.
    I got the menue promtly, water I got not. Ordered half a chicken , rice, papaya sald with crabs.
    To make a long story short:
    The chicken was cold and dry, there were two souces not three when I asked for a third one I got Soya souce.
    The crabs where crushed in the motar so I could not eat the salat because by every bit you had lot of shellpeaces in your mouth (perhaps its correct cooked like this, I dont know)

    That was it, perhaps I was to the wrong time on the wrong place. This will happen not an second time.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hi Poehlmann, thank you for the update and sorry about the bad experience. The chicken has no excuse, but that is the way the papaya salad is supposed to be, the crab is crushed to release all the flavor and fragrance. Again, sorry about the experience.

      • Poehlmann

        4 years ago

        Hi Mark
        Its not your fought. All other places you discribed in CM old City where wonderful experiences and some are my absolute favorites.
        So I am half an year in CM I will give sp- chicken a second chance, perhaps , as I said, it was the wrong day.

        • Mark Wiens

          4 years ago

          Ok, thanks, no worries and glad to hear you’re enjoying most of the food in Chiang Mai!

  • Arnaud

    5 years ago

    I am addicted to chicken, and SP chicken didn’t disappointed at all. Great stuff, perfectly grilled while being juicy and tender!!! Their garlic flavor is still in my mouth, and the sauces were perfect. Try as well the Tom Sem Moo, spicy pork soup, really really good, and sum tum of course!!! Great place to go and easy to find in the old town. For the last chicken be there before 8pm!!!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Arnaud, great to hear you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing!

  • Daniel Kennedy

    5 years ago

    Mark,

    I tried SP Chicken, and it is fairly good, but not outstanding.

    The Chonburi area (Jomtien , Pattaya, and nearby areas) has many roadside stands that serve up Rotisserie charcoal grilled chicken. If you have ever eaten from the Chonburi stands, then SP Chicken would not seem so good. When my daughter visited Thailand, she called it bike chain chicken because the stands typically use a car battery to run a motor that is connected to the rotary spindles with a bicycle chain. She also liked the Sum Tum.

    SP Chicken is a good place to eat if you cannot find the real thing or if you have never eaten the real thing.

    I have only lived in Chiang Mai for about 6 weeks, so am still learning where everything is. I only know of one real bike chicken shop in the area. I am still looking for more. It is located on route 107 about 7.5 km north of the route 11 super highway. (the new central shopping center is near that intersection). This is on the way out of town it you go to Chiang Rai. Consistent with the Chonburi shops they serve Sum Tum with or without fish. Order Sum Tum Thai if you do not want fish. If you like it spicy tell them “phet nit noi” and they will add about 3 of those hot thai peppers. If you say “phet” they will add 10 or 12 peppers. If you say “my phet” then you will only get the pepper left over in the bowl from the previous batch (they scrape the bowl between batches)

    Hope this helps.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Daniel, good to hear from you, thank you very much for sharing. Oh Yes, I’ve been to Chonburi a few times and have had those bike chain grilled chickens, yah definitely good as well! Thank you for your tips, if I get back to Chiang Mai in the future, would love to try it.

    • Arnaud

      5 years ago

      Hi Daniel, I will be in Chonburi, Pattaya, tomorrow, any recommendation where to get those lovely little grilled birds?
      Thanks in advance

  • Daniel

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    Nice website and very useful reviews.

    Still… are you sure about the address of SP Chicken that appears on the Google Map attached to the article?

    I walked my ass off (I do have orientation problems, it is true), but I have not found the place in the area above Ta Phae Rd just off Wichayanon Rd, as indicated on the map.

    Thank you for any clarifications.

    Dan

    • Daniel

      5 years ago

      Ok, I was very dumb – I was looking at the place I WAS staying on the map, instead of the actual restaurant.

      The exact location is very close to the main temple within the City walls (Wat Phra Singh). If you come from the West side (i.e. Loi Kroh Rd or Tha Phae Rd, where most foreigners seek accommodation), it is a 7 minute, 50 Baht tuk-tuk ride. As you arrive at the main gate of the temple, turn left and go around the temple court (you will turn right into Samlan Road Lane after about 250-300m). The lane seems very deserted (because nothing can be built on either side – you have the temple on the right side, and some spa thing on the left), but after a mere 200m, SP Chicken is on the left side.

      It does not look like much, but you will recognize the yellow sign outside, and the small chicken being roasted out in the road, by a guy wearing a mask. There are some other clone chicken places on the main temple road, but none sport the yellow sign.

      Now on to the chicken – it was absolutely marvelous. Very very moist yet well done, superbly crispy skin, more flavourful than the usual chicken we get in Europe (I suppose the small birds have something to do with that). It is filled with some garlic-lemongrass mixture, and comes with 2 sauces – as Mark described above. I didn’t like the sweet chilli sauce much (seemed out of the bottle, IMHO), but the nam jim jaew (which I believe also had ground roasted rice) was superb, slightly sour and salty, a perfect complement to the great roast.

      I also ordered the moo yang (roasted pork), but I won’t be writing home about it. While good, it wiped off my head very quicly, as did the som tam (green papaya salad), which was very forgettable. I went through a whole chicken like it was a bar of Snickers. Left there very satisfied.

      PS – when I took out my copy of PokPok, all the staff members started laughing. I think Andy Ricker really exploded the business for this place.

      • Mark Wiens

        5 years ago

        Hi Daniel, sorry about not getting back to you sooner. Glad you found the place and glad you enjoyed the chicken. I agree with you, this restaurant is all about the chicken, so flavorful and mine was almost creamy it was so moist. Huge thank you for all your added input!

  • patrick martineau

    5 years ago

    Hello Mark, I love Thai food and I often go to Thailand. My question to you : how do you cope with weight and health issues with all this good and rich food. Best Patrick

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Patrick, glad you love Thailand too. My biggest thing is that I usually stay away from desserts and most snacks, especially packaged ones. Also I keep pretty active and busy and eat lots of chilies! Thanks for reading, hope you’re doing well.

  • max

    5 years ago

    Greetings Mark

    Im already in chiang mai till september 15 . Is it possible to get your book here > That would be really helpful for me >

    Thanks !

    Max

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Max, sorry for the late reply. My guide is an ebook, so it’s available only in PDF format. Hope you had a nice trip to Chiang Mai.

  • Bruce

    5 years ago

    Mark,
    We visited Mr. Lit’s SP Chicken twice during our visit to Chiang Mai last November.
    After reading about him in Andy Ricker’s ‘Pok Pok’ Thai Cookbook, we put him on our quest list.
    Loved everything and got hooked on the nam jim jaew to have with chicken everywhere we ordered it after that.
    It’s pretty cool to watch them make every salad right from scratch while the chickens are spinning on the vertical rotisserie.
    Everything here was very tasty and we can highly recommend SP chicken to anyone visiting Chaing Mai.

    Thank you for your recommendation for the phenomenal goong ob woon sen at Somsak Pu Ob (สมศักดิ์ ปูอบ) in BKK. For several in our group, it was their introduction, by immersion, to Thai Street food. We’d have gone back there every evening if our stay had been longer.
    Keep up the great work on your blog.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Bruce, great to hear from you, glad you enjoyed SP Chicken and Somsak Pu Ob as well, great places. Thanks for your support.

  • DC

    5 years ago

    I love Thai fried chicken!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Glad to hear that DC.

    • Kitti

      5 years ago

      but that’s a grilled chicken!!!!!

  • chris barnes

    5 years ago

    Howdy Mark, I adore your site and these Chickens look completely flavorful! I am going to need to counsel with your before my next outing to Thailand!

  • SeanVN

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    Thanks for all the great videos and books. I think this guy also have good presentation skills and a strong ability to generate sales:
    https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxr2d4As312LulcajAkKJYw
    Maybe you can do a video recipe for a Rolex. I made one yesterday for myself and my daughter, but I didn’t have any vegetables, it was still good but I felt it could be better.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hi Sean, thank you for sharing, looks interesting. Oh great to hear you made a Rolex, that’s a classic.

  • Laura Miller

    5 years ago

    My husband and I are staying right around the corner! So excited to try this place out!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Laura, great to hear that, hope you enjoy the chicken!

  • Bill @thewoksoflife

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark, I love your site and these Chickens look absolutely delicious! I am going to have to consult with your before my next trip to Thailand!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Bill, thank you very much, love your site as well. Yes, definitely let me know when you come to Thailand.