Location: We’s Restaurant - Chiang Mai, Thailand
We’s class is a sneak peak into the lesser known Northern Thai cuisine. Northern Thai food is heartier, more rustic, and packed full of herbs. If you know what you want to learn, you can customize 3-4 dishes for her to teach. If you don’t have suggestions, she can either design a menu to showcase Northern classics, or she can teach you some classics like panang or massaman curry, pad thai, or whatever else you can dream up! As it was private, it cost more than other classes, but was still a reasonable price for North American standards.
Who should attend:
Adventurous cooks itching to learn Thai food beyond pad thai, spring rolls and green mango salad will be thrilled with We’s class. She teaches out of her restaurant kitchen so anything on or off her menu are possibilities. If you enjoy a relaxed and private setting, this is the place for you.
- The flavours are closer to Indian curries than to Thai curries, utilizing curry powder rather than an aromatic paste.
- Larp/Larb/Laap/Laab Isaan is a minced pork dish, different from Northern Larp in that it does not contain blood, and is flavoured with lime juice and toasted rice powder.
- A dark, spiced, pork based broth served with rice noodles and fresh herbs.
We’s class is a rare gem in Chiang Mai, where the majority of classes follow the same routine: pick a curry, a salad, a soup and a fried dish off the same set list, join a class of 10 other chefs and follow the demonstrations. In We’s class, you can throw just about any Thai dish you’re interested in learning at her and she’ll be able to accommodate. Last year, Reid learned 4 dishes: Northern style Larp (minced meat salad with herbs and spices), Sai Ua (also known as Chiang Mai sausage), a spicy tomato and pork noodle soup, as well as Gaeng Hang Lay (braised pork belly). This year, we learned Isaan-style Larp, Curry Crab, and Boat Noodles. We has a wide range of culinary expertise and was able to handle all of our requests with ease.
But it’s not all about the cooking! We makes you feel welcome in her restaurant, provides coffee and a delicious, nourishing breakfast of rice soup with tons of vegetables and a poached egg, and gives you a grand tour of the nearby market. If you’re in the area, Chiang Mai Gate Market is a great little market you can peruse to get acquainted with Thailand’s wet markets. It’s not too large or overwhelming, it’s very clean and it has some great prepared foods. Our favourite snacks included fruit and sticky rice wrapped in banana leaf and then grilled, Sai Ua, and of course Thai iced tea. If you love wobbly, chewy jelly desserts, there’s also a beautiful rainbow of choices on display at one vendor’s table!
Back at We’s Restaurant, we got started on our three dishes. The setting for the class is perfect for private classes up to three or four people. It takes place in We’s own restaurant kitchen, where you have access to all the same equipment she uses to turn out great meals every day. The class is run with a nice, relaxed pace and each time we finished cooking a dish, we sat down with We and ate it. The curried crab was our personal highlight, but there was a lot of potential in both the larp and the boat noodles. We overestimated our taste for offal, which diminished the two latter dishes a bit, but we are excited to make them according to our own palates when we return home! Still, we’re glad we learned them in their original form because it’s very important to know where a dish is coming from before you can make any modifications.
Overall, We’s class comes highly recommended by us. We herself is incredibly friendly, warm and knowledgeable, and the ability to customize your menu to feature any dish you want sets this class apart completely from any other in Chiang Mai.
What we learned:
Curry crab is a lot quicker and easier than we expected! The key is to not crowd the wok too much: if you want to cook multiple crabs, it will be faster if you tackle each crab in a separate batch.
As much as we like the idea of nose to tail eating, offal is still challenging for us. Intestines are particularly squirm-inducing, though if you can mind-over-matter them, they can add a good chew to dishes.
Rice soup is the most nourishing, wholesome meal you will have in Thailand. It’s packed full of different vegetables, it’s filling and its simplicity makes it a great breakfast.