In some ways, Thai food in the North is cooked solely for the taste of how they like it. The common meal includes steamed glutinous rice, chili sauces which come in many varieties, such as namprik noom, namprik dang, namprik ong and chili soups (gang) such as gang hangle, gang hoh, and gang kae. In addition there are also local sausages such as sai ua, and nham; steamed meat, roasted pork, pork resin, fried pork, fried chicken and vegetables to go with them.
The northern people prefer their food to be medium cooked with a touch of salty tastes. Pork is the most common meat used in the North, followed by beef, chicken, duck, etc. Sea food is the least popular in the Northern region because of the location.
Thai food of the North does not lack in varieties. The Northern breakfast known in the local dialect as khao gnai, consists mainly of steamed glutinous rice. Steamed glutinous rice is packed in a wicker basket made from bamboo splints or Palmyra palm leaves. Farmers take the packed basket to the working rice field and eat the glutinous rice for lunch, known as khao ton. Dinner or khoa lang is served on a wooden tray (kan toke.)
Because of the cooler mountain climate there is a large variety of vegetables in northern Thailand than in other regional Thai cuisines, and roots and herbs have a strong presence. There are many sour and bitter flavours, especially apparent in the Soups. People of the North prefer glutinous rice to white rice, rolling it into balls with their hands, and dipping into dishes and sauces. Som tam, the spicy green papaya salad highly popular in the Northeast, is also a familiar dish in the north. Popular dishes include khao soi, a curry broth with egg noodles and chicken, pork or beef; and kaeng hang lay , a pork curry seasoned with ginger, tamarind and turmeric. Curries are thinner in this region with the two most popular curry dishes are kaeng yuak, made with banana palm hearts; and kaeng khanoon, made from the aromatic jackfruit. Sausages are a specialty. The best known is sai ua, which blends ground pork with dried chillies, garlic, shallots and lemongrass to produce a spicy red sausage. The North is noodle heaven, the ethnic mix of Yuananese, Shan and Burmese having produced a seemingly endless range of kuay tiaw and khanoom cheen dishes. In Chiang Mai, the khao soy egg noodles eaten with chicken or beef curry and a number of spicy and sour side dishes was brought in by the caravans of Yunnan Moslems. Khanom chin nam ngiew is soft thin rice noodles with pork rib, tomatoes and black bean sauce. No visit to the North is complete without sampling a khan toke dinner. The name derives from a khan , or a bowl , and a toke , a low round table made of woven bamboo, plain or lacquered. Guests sit on the floor, usually watching a cultural performance, and serve themselves from the assorted dishes of northern specialties placed on the table.