Deep-fried crullers, also known as pa thong ko (ปาท่องโก๋) in Thai or youtiao (油條) in Chinese are a common sight at streetside food carts all over Asia. Usually served as a breakfast dish alongside hot soy milk or porridge, these crispy yet soft sticks of dough make a perfect morning treat. One crafty vendor in Chiang Mai, however, has found a way to put all other pa thong ko sellers to shame – meet uncle Neng:
Every morning, from as early as 6 AM, uncle Neng and his wife open their Thai-Chinese breakfast shop near Chiang Mai’s Warorot market to bring the masses what they didn’t know they needed: pa thong ko with a twist – served on a stick and neatly shaped like dragons, dinosaurs, crocodiles, and elephants.
Each deep-fried treat is hand-crafted by the master himself (or by his protégé, under a watchful eye), and watching him transform a strip of dough into a creature with utmost precision is a brilliant show. Uncle Neng cuts dough, not corners, as demonstrated by the thoughtful finishing touch on each creature before it hits the hot oil: two tiny black sesame seeds for eyes.
Do as the locals do and order your frog, elephant or dragon with a side of hot soy milk (“nam tao hu“), soft-boiled eggs (“kai luok“) or coconut custard (“sangkaya“). Then slowly dismember your critter and dip its crispy limbs in your condiment of choice. Free tea is served, but Thai-style kaffe boran and cha nom (Thai iced tea) are available too.
The shop is a local affair, so don’t expect an English menu. Ordering is easy, though, as finger-pointing to the picture-heavy menu on the wall will get you exactly what you desire. None of the items on the menu will set you back more than 30 THB, so order as you please!
Despite its hole-in-the-wall appearance, Pa Thong Ko Ko Neng is hardly a secret spot; thanks to extensive coverage on Thai TV, local newspapers and pretty much every Asian Instagrammer visiting Chiang Mai. To avoid missing out on the wildly popular fritters, make sure you come on time.
ร้าน ปาท่องโก๋ โกเหน่ง
90 Wichayanon Rd
Tambon Chang Moi, Chiang Mai
+089 756 6444
Monday – Sunday: 6 am – 11:00 am