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Pho Vieng Chane for Vietnamese food!

By Christopher Sujarit
It’s “Wintertime” in our lovely Northern city, with temperatures dropping to the teens making motorbike rides shiver our timbers. Now is the time for clement comforts, now is the time for soup.
Pho Vieng Chane is the perfect place for enjoying soup and other simple Vietnamese dishes in a clean indoor or outdoor setting in the easy middle of the Old City.
It’s a rule of thumb in Chiang Mai that the smaller the menu, the better the food because the restaurant has time to perfect a small number of items. The people of Pho Vieng Chane have discovered a happy middle ground with a medium sized menu offering a handful of “specialties.”
Pho Vieng Chane serves Pho in both Chicken and Pork varieties. The broth is light and not over- seasoned; the rice noodles are perfectly cooked; green onions, bean sprouts, and peanuts are added. Cabbage and mint leaves are available to add so you can pretend you are eating a salad. I’m all about fiber.
The Fresh Spring Rolls (Chicken, Veggie, Pork, Shrimp options) were wonderful, and an essential companion to every bowl of soup. Inside each piece of rice paper is tightly wrapped lettuce, tofu or meat, and mint. The dipping sauce is first- rate- not too sour; salty, and sweet, and generously peppered with peanuts. The Fresh Spring Rolls did not fall apart while being eaten, attesting to the quiet care with which Pho Vieng Chane prepares its simple dishes.
My eating companion, Gayle, gently sold me on trying the Rice Salad. What is Rice Salad? Well, according to Pho Vieng Chane, it is crispy rice mixed with peanuts, green onion, and lime. This dish is the perfect answer to “fried rice” fatigue, as Rice Salad is more crispy, lively, less oily, and generously garnished with heaps of green onions and peanuts. You can pretend you are eating a salad, again.
The owner of Pho Vieng Chane is a charmingly friendly man, and the service is top notch. The restaurant is located within the outdoor plaza off Ratchadamnoen alongside Wawee Coffee and Beetroot Stories. This means you can enjoy your meal outside in the inviting courtyard, and imagine you are having a picnic. Although somewhat populated by fleeting farang tourists, the outdoor courtyard of the plaza makes eating at Pho Vieng Chane just that much better. You can enjoy great food on the cheap without being relegated to a hole- in- the- wall.
Other menu items include Glass Noodle Spicy Salad, Sausage, Deep Fried Fish, Grilled Pork with Sticky Rice, Egg Rolls/Fried Spring Rolls, Fish in Crepe Rolls, Rice Cakes with Shrimp on top, and Steamed Fish… and Shrimp Mousse on Sugar Cane, whatever that may be.
A bowl of Pho will set you back about 40THB, or 60THB for a large bowl (always encouraged). The appetizers and other dishes are priced similarly so you can enjoy your soup or pretend-salad guiltfree, with money to spare.
Although not quite the caliber Pho found in Saigon or San Jose, Pho Vieng Chane pulls off a satisfying effort, especially during “winter” in Chiang Mai. And just for good measure, Pho Vieng Chane will leave you feeling warm and Pho-zzy all over your insides.
Pho Vieng Chane is located off the Sunday Market Walking Street (Ratchadamnoen  Road) at the large plaza with Wawee Coffee (Kad Klang Wiang). It is open from 7am to 9pm everyday. Phone: 053 271174.



Stir fried onion blossoms with pork

After the harvest season the rice fields turn brown and dry. Onion and garlic are good choices to plant during the time that the rain takes a vacation as they require only a little water and can be used for everything!
The onion plant produces flowers after two months, the blossoms have a sweet flavor but, surprisingly, not a strong flavor of onion. Onion flowers are tastier than garlic flowers.
The best way to cook this dish is to stir fry the blossoms with pork but some people like to steam the flowers with mixed vegetables and eat it the standard chili paste.
Take a few hundred grams of flowers and pork as needed. Stir fry the pork in a tablespoon full of oil until cooked but not dry. Then add the flowers and a bit of water and stir fry quickly. Add soy sauce of fish sauce to taste and you have a unique and delicious dish!

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