In previous years, I've recommended Ayuthaya, Khao Yai, Chiang Rai and LopBuri as viable winter getaway destinations in Thailand, this year's going to be something different, as the foodie in me takes over to recommend Udon Thani as THE place (listen up, Michelin) for food lovers to visit during the cool winter months.
1. Samuay and Sons: MUST-VISIT for foodies!
|The bustling kitchen at Samuay and Sons|
[First Impressions] @samuay_n_sons This was a meal that got me thinking. As I went through the tasting menu, I pondered, whether my parents, or even my wife, would truly enjoy the food. Chef Num is a passionate man with a mission to preserve the food wisdom buried deep in the heartlands of Isaan. He forages, works with farmers and local ceramic artists, digs into North-Eastern Thai cultures and presents dishes with deep roots, sprinkled with his modern techniques and creativity. Food-wise, if there is one word I can find to describe it, it's "earthy". Chef Num does not hold back. Any dish could easily be put together using 30 different herbs and spices, and the Larb Nuea was so spicy my Thai companions emptied their glasses in a hurry. Personally, I enjoyed it very much, especially the seafood curry mousse and the Plaa Yawn dish. I do wonder how the dishes can be balanced (authenticity vs mainstream) more to suit a wider audience, but for Thai traditional cooking wisdom to continue (and even possibly thrive), we need chefs like Num, to persevere and not waver. Susu! #strangerinudon #samuayandsons #isaancuisine #thaiwisdom #authentic #thaicuisine #thaifood #strangerfirstimpression
2. Beyond Cafe: Great vibe, good ambience, decent desserts.
Helmed by Chef Ning, winning challenger on Iron Chef Thailand, we naturally had high hopes for Beyond Cafe.
|One of the many different sections of the cafe.|
It proved to be one of the largest cafes we've seen in Thailand, and one with great ambiance. The 2 desserts we ordered were acceptable but unspectacular. Definitely a place worth checking out!
3. Dose Espresso/ Dose Factory: Probably the best coffee in Udon Thani.
Recommended by friends in the food industry, these 2 establishments completely won us over with their excellent coffee.
|Look out for this when you are looking for Dose Espresso.|
Dose Espresso is a typical small cafe serving mainly drinks with simple snacks and desserts. Dose Factory, on the other hand, is a more substantial project, providing a full food menu that impressed us tremendously. I dare say Dose Factory will be a commercial success even in Bangkok.
|Dose Factory's extravagant front door.|
|Warehouse-style restaurant, reminds me of Jam Factory in Bangkok.|
|One of the 2 inventive but delicious pastas we ordered, the spicy carbonara, which had a large dose of paprika.|
|Tacos, which made my companion David very happy indeed!|
4. Le Bonheur: Unexpected hidden sanctuary.
It took us a while to find Le Bonheur, which is technically a European-style cottage in a little soi, surrounded by low-cost houses.
|The signs are not exactly obvious.|
|Definitely has the hidden-garden-by-the-Koi-pond feel.|
Le Bonheur is a French pastry shop. Swiping through immaculate pictures on an iPad, the chef's mum painstakingly went through the entire menu in detail before leaving us to make our decisions.
The desserts we ordered arrived equally picturesque.
|What a beauty.|
|Green tea soft cookie.|
So there you go, my simple eat-and-drink guide in Udon, summarized for you after a deliberate 2D1N food trip during winter 2018. As always, I will continue to update this guide if I find more spots during subsequent visits.
Till next winter!