The first few times we tried to find the Mae Hong Son night food market, we ended up at the cheesy tourist night market on Jongkham Lake. We knew this couldn’t be right, as our friends kept telling us that the night market was a great place to go for noodles, but all we found were over-priced T-shirts and woven hill tribe purses. Eventually we realized that we needed to continue south down the main road, past the library, where we found a cluster of food carts set up in front of a municipal building.
On our first visit, we sampled dishes from a few stalls, including pad thai, khao soi, a few different steamed glutinous rice snacks in banana leaves, a sinfully-delicious fried papaya snack called “khaangpong” (translated on the sign as “the papaya fries herbs”), and a savory crepe with chili sauce. Yum!
On later visits we learned that the night market is actually a bit hit-or-miss: on many nights, none of the three noodle stalls are present (it seems to be an all-or-nothing deal), and there is just less selection in general. We haven’t figured out the pattern, as the decreased selection doesn’t seem to be tied to any particular night of the week. But even on nights when the noodles are absent, we find we are able to make do if we look hard enough. At some point, we discovered a lady who makes decent som tam (spicy papaya salad) and vegetarian rice-paper rolls.
We took my family to the night market while they were here, with nearby Fern Restaurant as a backstop in case it was an off night. Unfortunately the noodle carts were indeed absent, but there was good enough selection from among our other favorite carts to scrounge up a decent (if greasy) meal. While we made food selections, Kenny took a quick run to the 7-11 and picked out one of each of the beers on offer (and a bottle opener so we could enjoy them), so our dinner turned into a Thai-snacks-and-Thai-beer sampler platter. Fortunately we still had room for our favorite dessert: mango and sticky rice near home.