Aroy Aroy – Thai Cooking School

Gordon Ramsay, who? The master chef within us has awoken and we are ready to take on the culinary world! Ok, maybe I exaggerate…but our skills have reached a new level after an incredible day at Aroy Aroy Thai cooking school in Chiang Mai – http://aroyaroyschool.com.

There are many cooking schools with great reviews to choose from but we decided on Aroy Aroy for two main reasons: 1) they take you by riverboat to get to the market and 2) the dishes I wanted to learn most were taught in their ‘Chef’s Favorites Course’.

We arrived to Aroy Aroy at 9:30am to meet our teachers, Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’, and the other students (11 total). Shortly after settling in and chatting with our new peers, we jumped on the boat for a short trip up the Ping River to the Warorot Market.
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Chef ‘A’ guided us through the market while teaching about the Thai culture, flowers, ingredients, etc.

After about an hour, we returned to the cooking school by boat, put on our aprons, and were assigned to our very own cooking stations.

Our first dish, som tom (my favorite spicy salad), was the perfect starter. The key is in the sauce which requires the perfect combination of fish sauce, tamarind, and palm sugar – three ingredients found in many Thai dishes.

Next up, the most well know and most popular Thai dish in the world, pad thai. I was amazed at how quick and easy it was to make pad thai that tasted better than any take-out I’ve ordered in LA.

Finally, the meal I had been waiting for – KHAO SOI!!! The deep red color of the soup comes from slowly adding coconut milk to the curry paste as it heats in the wok. The more curry paste, the spicier (and the more delicious if you ask me). Sean’s bowl was especially yummy!!

We were satisfied and stuffed after the khao soi, but there was still more to learn. After the soup, we moved on to stir fried chicken and cashews. The ingredient that sets this stir fry apart from the rest is the roasted chili paste.

No meal is complete without dessert! We ended the day with a simple Thai specialty – mango sticky rice. Sweet mango is hard to find back home but here they are a dime a dozen. When combined with sticky rice and topped with coconut milk you get the perfect confection.

By the end of the day we could barely move (but it was totally worth it). We gained new friends, a wealth of knowledge, and about 5 extra pounds.

Thanks to Chef ‘A’ and Chef ‘O’ for being such wonderful teachers. And a special shoutout to Roy, the owner, an expat that came to Thailand to retire. His love for food brought him into the cooking school business. Aroy Aroy is a true gem!

My dream to cook khao soi has become a reality and I am filled with joy (and food).

10 Things I’ve learned in Thailand (so far…)

  1. Wearing make-up is a waste of time. It will sweat off the moment you step outside. I have a tinted moisturizer and have only been using it for its SPF30 properties. Beyond that, waterproof mascara is the only thing that will stay on your face. Basically, forget trying to look presentable – it’s not going to happen.
  2. My hair hates Thailand and Thailand hates my hair. “You have amazing hair” – a compliment that has never been bestowed upon me. There are girls that can let their hair air dry in humidity and still look like they just stepped out of a salon. I am not one of those girls. Without a hair dryer, flat iron, and cool, dry weather, I am the Lion King reincarnate. Thank God for hair clips, hats, and bandanas!!!crazy-hair
  3. Just because it looks delicious, doesn’t mean it taste delicious (see our satay eating experience in my Chinatown Letdown post).shit-on-a-stick
  4. Adversely, food that looks disgusting can be some of the more delicious fare. Sausages fall far down on my list of favorite foods but there is something about the spices and herbs in the wursts here that give me nightly cravings. They may look green and brown with black spots but damn, they taste divine.p1030138
  5. The best meals are served from a cart. Not only are they fractions of the price but they have been the tastiest meals I have had. The pad thai dishes ordered on the street have surpassed the same dish eaten from a restaurant, cafe, or bar.img_0208
  6. It doesn’t have to be cold outside to enjoy a hot bowl of soup — but it does help to have a fan pointed in your direction. If there is one thing I have fallen hard for in Chiang Mai, it is a hot bowl of khao soi (My new love). I could eat it all day every day for the rest of my life – no joke.img_2690
  7. Beer is best served over ice. Unless you like warm beer…
  8. Thai people don’t sweat. I’m over here in a tank top sweating bullets while bro is bundled up in a jacket, eating a hot bowl of soup, dry as a bone. WTF?!
  9. Thailand is cover crazy. The coffee shops and bars play a lot of popular music but they are all cover songs – many times with a slower, jazzy vibe. One bar/coffee spot in Nimmanhaemin area of Chiang Mai, Dude, Coffee!, had an entire Maroon 5 mix playing. Sean surprisingly tolerated the tunes because Adam Levine wasn’t the one singing.
  10. Keep Wet Ones/toilet paper on you at ALL times. I already knew this, but I continue to remind myself because it is the most important lesson of all. You never know when the bubble guts will strike – and the last place you want to be is standing over a squat toilet without  wipes.

The Rose of the North

Chiang Mai is everything we were hoped for, and then some. It didn’t take very long for us to become smitten with our new home (for the next couple months). Friendly locals, bustling night markets, delectable eats, cheap massages, and temples galore – what’s not to love?

The Smith Residence

Our apartment is just outside the old city, south of Chiang Mai Gate. We have decent sized room with a microwave, TV, fridge, spacious bed, and a well working air conditioner. Sean has to get on his knees to take a shower (guess it doesn’t always suck to be short) but besides that, we are pleased with our accommodations. The complex also has a rooftop gym and pool that is open from 6am-9pm.

Transportation

Tuk tuks wait on every street corner and while there are a few standard taxis, most people  get around using red trucks with oversized campers (songthaews) that serve as mini busses which can take multiple riders at a time. They are not metered but are a bargain when compared to tuk tuks.

Food, food, and more food

We have barely scratched the surface when it comes to Northern Thai cuisine. Khao soi is my obvious go to (My new love) but there is so much more to be discovered.

Of course we had to hit up the notorious “lady with the cowgirl hat” for her khao kha moo (slow stewed pork leg). It was some of the juiciest, tastiest, most tender pork I’ve ever eaten!

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the woman, the myth, the legend – number 1!!!

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khao kha moo from Khao Kha Moo Chang Phueak

Here are some other noteworthy dishes we’ve had so far:

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Chicken Noodle Soup from Buathip

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gai yang from SP Chicken

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Thai rotee with banana and chocolate

Smoothies are a typical refreshment here in Thailand. Our favorite so far has been the mango mania smoothie from Mango Mania in the MAYA Lifestyle Shopping Center. It was thick and sweet and could cure any heat stroke in three sips.

Italian, Mexican, Irish, fast food – they have a decent variety to choose from. Aside from the occasional American breakfast, we’ve only eaten Thai. At some point I’m sure we will crave a burrito or some tacos but I predict a disappointing experience. Stay tuned for that…

My new love

Move over ramen, pho, broccoli cheese! There’s a new soup in town and it has quickly become my new everythang – khao soi.

This heavenly entrée consists of deep-fried crispy egg noodles atop a bowl of boiled egg noodles in a curry-like sauce with coconut milk and meat (chicken, pork, beef, or seafood). It is served with a side of pickled mustard greens, shallots, lime, and ground chillies fried in oil.

It was our second day in Chiang Mai. The night before was spent researching Northern Thai dishes and go to eateries in the city. Khao Soi Khun Yai was at the top of a few lists for their khao soi soup. We took to the streets in search of this highly recommended establishment. It took a little while to find since this luncheonette was located in an alley between two wats and looked more like a garbage collection stand with tables and chairs than a place where one would find a life altering bowl of deliciousness.

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Khao Soi Khun Yai – currently ranked #1

Since this meal, I have eaten khao soi almost every single day. I have yet to find a bowl that compares to the one I demolished at Khao Soi Khun Yai but they have all still hit the spot. I intend on eating as many bowls as I can while I am here.

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Khao Soi from street cart at Chiang Mai Gate night market (chicken) #2

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Khao Soi Phorjai in Chiang Rai (chicken) #3

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Khao Soi from Night Bazaar food court (chicken and vegetable) #4

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Khao Soi from restaurant by the Chiang Rai bus stop (chicken) #5

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Khao Soi Islam (seafood) #6

Sean and I are planning to take a cooking class (or two) while we are in Chiang Mai. Soon I will learn how to make khao soi so I can cook it ALL THE TIME when we get back to the states.

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khao soi FOREVER ❤