Breadtag Sagas ©: Author Tony, January 2013, updated 2016, 2018, 2023
Articles in the series on food and restaurants in Chiang Mai are: 1 Akha Tribal Food, 2 Pho Vieng Chane, 3 Khao Soy, 4 French & Italian Restaurants, 5 Airport Plaza, 6 Update 2017, 7 Update 2023, 8 Street Food. Another article is about What Travel Costs in Chiang Mai, part of another memorable series.
Sadly, in the post Covid era of 2023 Pho Vieng Chane no longer exists. Even though change of eateries is sometimes slow in Chiang Mai, sometimes it is rapid and Covid 19, the loss of tourism and business is a dire challenge. On my trip in January/February 2023 I visited some Vietnamese restaurants that I knew previously but I din’t have time to find a really good one. This description of Pho Vieng Chane is now a remembrance of things past.
Pho Vieng Chane
Pho Vieng Chane Vietnamese Restaurant is located in a laneway between Pracha Samphan and Chang Klan Road (just down from Giorgio Italian Restaurant which also no longer exists).
I ate at Pho Vieng Chane yesterday. Phennapha took me also before Xmas. This is an open-fronted Vietnamese fast food restaurant, but with excellent food. I don’t think what I had was anything unusual. I wanted to chase down the deep fried leaf that Phennapha didn’t know the English for and I did on the second visit.
1 Minced pork balls on skewer nem nuong: these were much more delicious than they looked with a mild sate sauce and as you can see from the half-eaten dish (3 sticks), raw garlic and green chillis, which I skipped (the garlic was very strong). And an egg-plant style vegetable (light green peel and white inside slightly bitter), a vegetable that was the consistency of star fruit but sour and cucumber. The leaves on the side plate were lettuce, coriander, basil and Vietnamese mint (very tasty when combined with the dish and noodles).
2 Deep-fried pork in wild betel leaves: I don’t know what a wild betel leaf is but suspect a jungle version of the cultivated. These are really special. The cylinder of pork inside is very tasty and quite different from the pork balls. This was the killer part of the meal because there were four lots of three. It would be much better to share with someone.
Shrimp mousse on sugar cane: this was bland and didn’t taste much of shrimp. I’ve had better.
(I hate people who take pictures of food incessantly but thought that it would explain things. I’m not sure if the fact that the food is half-eaten is a sign of this or merely that I was very hungry.)
There is also a Branch or restaurant of the same name in the old city not far from Thapae Gate on Rachadamnoen (see 2016 Update below). It sounds like it has more Western ambience, but the restaurant I’m talking about caters almost exclusively to locals
The other dish that I had with Phennapha was: ‘crispied rice salad and pork-fermented’. This was also really delicious with lemon juice sprinkled over. Phennapha used the lettuce to roll into a ball. I did too but was far less successful and made a mess.
The other thing I had both times was a bottle of passion fruit drink. This is supposedly fresh pulp but must have sugar added as I often find passion fruit too acid. It was delicious. Phennapha says that it is only available in season. It must be commercial because it has a label and machine wrapped foil over the screw top. I think it was expensive 80B, a bit less than AUD $3. The meal was 150B, AUD $5 but it was a bit much for me, and with say the fermented pork would have been more than adequate for two.
I suspect that I may not be losing weight.
March 2016 Update
I went back today to Pho Vieng Chane and had a pleasant lunch (no drinks) for 120 B (nearly $5 AUD) the food was superb. I had the pork in wild betel leaves again and grilled pork with rice which was thin strips of pork with plain rice and a peanut and chilli dipping sauce with a bowl of clear soup base with herbs. Spectacular food, really cheap. Sorry, I was hungry and ate most of the grilled pork while waiting for the betel leaves. I also really like the local atmosphere here.
The other Branch of Pho Vieng Chane up from Thapae Gate on Rachadamnoen (Walking Street) is at the first main street you come to, the intersection with Ratchaphakinn. There is a pleasant square here behind Wawee Coffee and the restaurant is at the back. It has the same menu and the food is almost identical, perhaps better at Chang Klan because of the higher turnover. Nevertheless, if it is more convenient, the square is a nice with more Western appeal and it is the middle of touristville.
The Branch on Rachadamnoen in tourist central has closed down in 2017 or 2018.
I have now written six articles on food and restaurants in Chiang Mai and have barely scratched the surface. The articles are, respectively: 1 Akha Tribal Food, 2 Pho Vieng Chane, 3 Khao Soy, 4 French & Italian Restaurants, 5 Airport Plaza, 6 2017 Update.
Although my latest visit to Pho Vieng Chane Vietnamese Restaurant was in 2018, I maintain contact and to date all the information contained is current. Places do change and shut down in Chiang Mai but not as frequently as in Bangkok. To my knowledge all the articles are current. The main change in Chiang Mai since 2015 has been growth and the massive impact of Chinese tourism.
Key words: Pho Vieng Chane Restaurant, Vietnamese restaurant, Chiang Mai, Thailand