One thing I love about my new Aussie friends is their willingness to travel to the other side of town to try out a new restaurant, since that’s what I like doing as well. And that’s just what we did on Thursday night – we went all the way south of the old city to go to Ya Ya, a Chinese dumpling place. I’ve been a little sick this past week – a possible combination of being drenched at Songkran, air pollution, eating durian – but I pushed myself to go because even though I love being on my own, it really is nice to hang out with them all. And was it worth the trek? Absolutely. The food and company equalled a great night.
I have a confession to make – Thai food only just scrapes into my top 10 favourite cuisines. I know that sounds ridiculous but it’s true. And being here in Thailand has somehow made me realise just how much I love Chinese food because I actually get quite excited whenever I encounter something that looks remotely Chinese. I’ve had egg noodles with wonton and char siu pork quite a few times for lunch from a place close to my work, and it’s pretty good though the broth tastes a little too sweet. I also had Chinese-style steamed buns on the street last week – a popular snack – but I was a little disappointed about the filling which tasted too sweet. Thais love sugar! Anyway, I’ve been told there’s a place just west of the old city which is THE place to go for steamed buns, so I will definitely check it out sometime.
Ya Ya actually seems to be run by Chinese people who spoke what sounded like Cantonese to each other. A lot, if not most, people from Chinese backgrounds here after a few generations just speak Thai at home. In that way, Thailand is quite different to a lot of other countries in Asia where the Chinese tend to strongly retain their cultural identity. But here they are very integrated into Thai society and, in fact, a lot of Thais have some Chinese blood in them, including the royal family.
The dumplings we ordered were delicious and everything tasted just like it should. The four of us were very satisfied by the end of our meal, and our sole vegetarian was well catered for – the green and gold vegetarian dumplings were novel and really tasty. We also ordered a chicken curry which was served with plain bread dumplings and that was good – but by then I had eaten so much I was too full to fully savour it.
So Ya Ya on Chiang Mai Land gets the big thumbs up from me and it’s very likely that I will be back there soon. Strangely enough, yesterday morning I met with one of our contractors and it turns out that his office is on the same street as Ya Ya – and yet, he’s never been there before in all the years they’ve been located there. So I’ve suggested that when I go to their office next month, we can follow that with some lunch there.
Our Thursday night ended with ‘games night’ at an ex-pat bar called Tuskers in the old city. It’s the sort of thing I wouldn’t mind coming to once a month. I don’t want to hang out in those sort of places too much but of course it’s nice to hang out with English speakers who have similar cultural references because it was then fun to play a game that’s a cross between Taboo and Celebrity Head. Paul and I really got into it so it’s very likely we’ll be back again sometime. Naturally, I was on the winning team!