Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) – Excellent Northern Thai Food in Chiang Mai

By Mark Wiens 31 Comments
Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) for northern Thai food in Chiang Mai
Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) for northern Thai food in Chiang Mai

In Chiang Mai there are a number of well known restaurants that specialize in northern Thai food (Lanna cuisine).

Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) is sort of a trendy type of Thai restaurant.

They’ve upgraded from normal Thai street food or classic restaurants with the Pepsi or Maggi tablecloths, and instead they have dark wooden benches and tables, mist machines to keep diners cool, and Bruno Mars playing in the background.

Outdoor seating area
Outdoor seating area

Often I’m sort of turned away from this type of restaurant in Thailand as they try to attract the trendy upscale Thais, and the food is nothing worth raving about.

But just to let you know, despite the trendy atmosphere, I thought the food was excellent.

Menu
Menu

The menu at Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) is extensive and packed full of an array of typical northern Thai dishes.

It’s worth mentioning, that if you go for lunch, they don’t have grilled items – you have to go for dinner to get food that’s grilled. But at lunch you can still get sausages and things that have been pre-grilled (or maybe made on the stove).

Drinks served in kan nam (ขันน้ำ)
Drinks served in kan nam (ขันน้ำ)

Beverages are served in old style Thai metal cups known as kan nam (ขันน้ำ), a nice touch to the ambiance.

They even serve bottled water and juice in plastic bottles branded with their restaurant label!

Getting ready to feast at Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ)
Getting ready to feast at Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ)

All well rounded northern Thai meals should include a version of Thai nam prik (chili dipping sauce) and I’m a huge fan of nam prik noom (น้ำพริกหนุ่ม), a chili sauce made from roasted banana peppers.

The peppers are char roasted over fire, then pounded up with some extra chilies for heat, shallots and garlic, and fish sauce.

tong-tem-toh-ต๋อง-เต็ม-โต๊ะ
Nam prik noom (น้ำพริกหนุ่ม)

Nam prik noom (น้ำพริกหนุ่ม) almost reminds me of a Mexican style green salsa, but instead of eating it with tortillas or meat, it’s eaten with an array of boiled vegetables.

Bites of delicious!
Bites of delicious!

I like to take some of the nam prik noom (น้ำพริกหนุ่ม) and eat it with spoons of rice, but you can also just grab pieces of vegetables and dab on some of the goodness before taking a bite.

Great stuff, I loved it!

Price – 57 THB

แกงฮังเล
Kaeng hang lay (แกงฮังเล)

Kaeng hang lay (แกงฮังเล) is one of the most famous northern Thai foods, a curry or stew, typically made with pork, in a gravy made from a mixture of spices, sour tamarind juice, peanuts, garlic, and ginger – there are more ingredients than this, but you get the picture of the spectrum of flavors.

A fatty cut of pork, normally chunks of pork belly, are used to make kaeng hang lay (แกงฮังเล).

แกงฮังเล
That pork belly!

The kaeng hang lay (แกงฮังเล) here was quite good as well, a nice well rounded and balanced flavor, plus it wasn’t as oily as some other versions I’ve had.

It was sour from the tamarind, not too sweet, and the pork was tender and succulent.

Price – 72 บาท

Northern Thai food
Jeen som mok kai (จิ๊นส้มหมกไข่)

This was my very first time to try a northern Thai food known as jeen som mok kai (จิ๊นส้มหมกไข่), a fermented pork and egg sausage.

Mostly fat and pig skin was mixed with salt and garlic, and in this case an egg, wrapped in a banana leaf, and fermented for a few days before grilling it.

Chiang Mai restaurants
A bit too fatty for me, but it tasted good!

The jeen som mok kai (จิ๊นส้มหมกไข่) was served with a handful of roasted peanuts, whole cloves of sweet garlic, and chilies on the side.

Eat a bite of the sausage, and chase it with garlic and chilies and a few peanuts.

It was awesome, quite similar to naem (แหนม). I liked the flavor, but overall, it was intensely pig fatty – can’t eat this stuff too often!

Price – 52 THB

ไส้อั่ว
Sai ua (ไส้อั่ว)

Northern Thailand is a meat lovers paradise, and in Chiang Mai, sai ua (ไส้อั่ว) is one of the most famous and beloved foods.

The pork sausage includes a wonderful mix of herbs and spices like galangal, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, and chilies.

I thought the sai ua (ไส้อั่ว) at Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) was a little on the fatty side, but I loved the nice punch of herbs and spices mixed into it.

Price – 67 THB

แกงผักหวานไข่มดแดง
Kaeng pak wan kai mod daeng (แกงผักหวานไข่มดแดง)

Finally to round out our northern Thai food meal, we ordered kaeng pak wan kai mode daeng (แกงผักหวานไข่มดแดง), a soup made with sweet leaves, glass noodles, and ant eggs.

In Thai, the vegetable is known as pak wan (ผัก), scientifically known as sauropus androgynus. It has a pleasant sweet flavor to it, and it’s a wonderful vegetable.

The soup was delicious, fresh from the vegetables, and those wonderful ant eggs like little morsels of butter mixed in.

Price – 92 THB

The front of Tong Tem Toh (ร้านต๋อง)
The front of Tong Tem Toh (ร้านต๋อง)

The Bottom Line

I thought the food was wonderful – it’s a great restaurant to eat northern Thai food when you’re in Chiang Mai. The dishes I order were packed full of flavor and heavy on the spice – I had a great experience.

Though I haven’t tried the same dishes at both places, overall, I’d prefer to eat at Tong Tem Toh (ร้านต๋อง) over Huen Phen.

Warning: Just to warn you, the food at Tong Tem Toh (ร้านต๋อง) is quite spicy, so if you’re sensitive to chili heat be careful.

Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) – Chiang Mai, Thailand

Address: 11 Nimman Haeminda Soi 13, Mueang Chiang Mai, Chiang Mai 50200
Phone: 053-854701
Open hours: 11 am – 11 pm daily
Price: Our total bill was around 450 THB, and we feasted. So expect to pay about 200 – 300 THB per person max.

ร้านต๋อง
ที่อยู่ : ซ.นิมมานเหมินทร์ 13 เมืองเชียงใหม่ เชียงใหม่
เวลาเปิด : ทุกวัน 11.00-23.00 น.
เบอร์โทรศัพท์ : 053-854701

How to get there:

Tong Tem Toh (ต๋อง เต็ม โต๊ะ) is located in the Nimman area of Chiang Mai. Walk down Soi 13, and you’ll see the restaurant on your right hand side about 100 meters off the main Nimman road.

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

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  • Jeff

    2 years ago

    Hi,
    Thanks for the advice but please note that it closes at 9pm (at least for orders) so better to arrive earlier (especially there is often a bit of a queue).
    Cheers

  • Lerushka

    3 years ago

    This is good, I was worried that there will be too many vegan restaurants. I am going to be staying in chiang mai old town. I researched the restaurants, and the good ones appear to be vegan. I don’t know if you have tried these restaurants though?Anyway, thanks for posting a good restaurant guide!

    • Mark Wiens

      3 years ago

      Hey Lerushka, I haven’t tried any of the vegan restaurants. But don’t worry, just about all local northern Thai food is heavy on the meat!

  • Herbert

    4 years ago

    Hi Mark,

    It’s 9:30pm, Tuesday. I’m here and it’s closed. So, the place can close early due to “excess of clients”. Advise the readers to keep that in mind, just in case. ;)

    Cheers.

  • Justin

    4 years ago

    Great recommendation — thanks. We went last night and loved it. Just a warning for your readers: we were there on a Tuesday night, and when we arrived at 7:35pm there was already an enormous crowd waiting on the street outside. We took a ticket. Number 149. The guy out front had just called number 89, so we went off to drink at a pub up the street for an hour or so. At around 9pm, the restaurant put up a sign saying “Closed” (the menu says closing time is 9, not 11). We got in at 9:27 and we were the second last group through the door. The staff were keen to get us back out as quickly as possible. They handed us the check at 10. No matter. We still enjoyed it. PS the restaurant is on the left not the right. Not that it’s an issue — it’s impossible to miss the crowds. Thanks again.

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Justin, thank you very much for sharing, and glad you enjoyed this restaurant. Wow, can’t believe it was so busy. I’ll get the direction corrected as well. Thanks!

  • Michael

    4 years ago

    Dear Mark,
    Just wanted to say thanks for the advice. We went there today and it was absolutely awesome!

    • Mark Wiens

      4 years ago

      Hey Michael, you’re welcome, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Arnaud

    5 years ago

    Had dinner there last Sunday (my reward for having completed the Mae Hong Son Loop). Again great recommendation from Mark! Even though Northern thai food is not my favorite, there food is really good. Unfortunately I arrived too late so I didn’t get that much choice, and took what they still had. Nam prik nom, kanum (my favorite one, but not sure if it was made with banana blossom or jackfruit, maybe Mark could clarify), and a third dish that I don’t remember. All were very good, while quite spicy as Mark said (but I am now more and more Thaï and support pretty well fiery spicy food). To notice that they accepted me even though the restaurant just closed (9pm), my few Thaï words helped, so don’t come late.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Arnaud, thank you for the report, glad you enjoyed this northern Thai restaurant!

  • Kevin Tee

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark

    Your description of the food I must say is quite enticing. I will be off to Chiangmai this Saturday. I am so motivated to locate Tong Tem Toh. Will provide some feedback if I make it! Haha!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Kevin, good to hear from you. Hope you have a nice trip to Chiang Mai.

  • Rakhal

    5 years ago

    We ate there last night and had the “northern hors d’oeuvres” which included veggies, two dips, fermented pork, pork cracklings, northern sausage, pepper sausage, and soft boiled eggs. We also had the Burmese pork curry, fish steamed with herbs in banana leaf, beef and coconut flower in coconut milk, and sweet leaf and ant egg soup. The hors d’oeuvres were really good!! I am developing a new addiction to fermented pork, it’s so good!! The pork curry was great, although not quite as good as the amazing “Shan Hanglay Pork Curry” from Nong Beer restaurant in Pai which still sets the standard for this dish. Everything else was good but not great, the menu is huge here and I definitely want to come back and try more! Thanks for the recommendation, I agree that it’s better than Heuan Phen, although Heuan Phens’ young jackfruit dish is unique and deserves a try.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Rakhal, great to hear from you, thank you for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the food at Tong Tem Toh. Wow, that Shan hanglay and Nong Beer sounds wonderful, I hope to eat there in the future. I did try the jackfruit salad at Huen Phen, it was delicious, will post about it soon.

  • Doug

    5 years ago

    G’day Mark

    I tried Nam Prik Noom in Chiang Mai last December. I went on a motor bike tour with a local tour business and we had lunch with a Karen tribe. We had Nam Prik Noom, sticky rice, BBQ chicken (Gai) and pork crackle. The lunch was Aroi Mak and this has become one of my favourite Thai dishes. Every time I visit Thailand I find new and interesting food to try.

    I love your website and look forward to visiting the Kingdom again to try out some of the food and restuarants that you have reviewed.

    Keep up the good work.

    Cheers

    Doug

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Doug, thank you very much for sharing your food experiences, glad you love northern Thai food so much as well. Thank you for reading the blog, and hope you can come back to Thailand again soon to eat more! – Mark

  • Josias Lopes

    5 years ago

    WOW… that Kaeng pak wan kai mod daeng looks amazing. I’m no vegetarian, but I have to say that perfectly cooked veggies are one of my favourite things to eat… And in Thailand there are so many options: Morning Glory, stir fried vegetables… I just love it.

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Josias, thanks, I’m with you on that. I’m far from vegetarian, but I do LOVE vegetables and fruit.

  • Kul

    5 years ago

    May I introduce Khao Soi restaurant at Chieng Mai. This restaurant open over 25 years.
    Location at Soi Charoen Prathet 1, Tombon Chang moi ( 18.786543 , 99.002005 )
    near Night Bazaar market.
    You should try menu call “Pa Pa Zae” that we can not found in others Khao Soi restuarant.
    they use broth curry same as Beef Khao Soi
    but they use noodle made from sticky rice ( like Japanese Moji ) and topping with sesame.
    or try their ordinary Beef or Meat ball Khao Soi, They use true original yellow round noodle.

  • Trent @ Food Assault

    5 years ago

    What a great spot Mark. My wife and I will be in Chiang Mai for 3 out of 5 weeks later in the year and eager to check out some more local restaurants.

    Being Northern Thai, she definitely misses the authentic local cuisine of back home. Thanks for sharing!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hey Trent, great to hear you’ll be heading to Chiang Mai at the end of the year. I really enjoyed exploring the food, more posts to come!

  • Rrose

    5 years ago

    Hai Mark- Thanks for this review- I’m always looking for names of good places with authentic northern Thai food to share with friends. If you are back up here, do try Huen Jai Yong, out of town about 30 minutes near San Kamphaeng. It’s a family affair: chef wife and artist husband. The food is wonderful. Keep up the good work!

    • Mark Wiens

      5 years ago

      Hello Rrose, thank you for reading and for the suggestions. I heard about that place, but haven’t had time to check it out yet. Will try to eat there when I can, thanks!

  • Rop

    5 years ago

    the food looks wonderful. will check it out when I visit Chiang Mai.

  • Mark

    5 years ago

    Hi Mark,
    great post!
    Can you recommend a Northern Thai Style Restaurant in Bangkok?
    Thanks
    Mark