6.173 Black Pepper Giant Prawns


27 (Sat) June 2015

Black Pepper Giant Prawns


at Mho-O-Cha

-Chiang Mai-


Mission to Thailand + Personal Deviation, Day 4 (see previously 6.172 Sai Ua)

In Chiang Mai.  Arrived Wednesday tonight.  Here to support a workshop on tobacco and trade, Thursday and Friday.  Hanging around for an extra day today.  Getting back to Manila tomorrow evening.

Other than this wall, and a few temples within, the Old City didn’t seem all that old.
This venue was chosen solely because it offered air-conditioning, most other places being open-air.

No plans for the day, just walking about and taking in experiences as they came.

Starting in the Old City, the first order of business was lunch.


The khao soi was good.  The broth, not spicy yet rich with aromatics.  The noodles — uneven, indicating hand-made — provided a pleasantly rough/rustic mouthfeel.  Nevertheless, I still don’t think that I’ll ever come to fully embrace this dish.

Sticky rice with mango has been a recurring theme on this trip — this may be where Maria got the secret (see generally 6.045 Tortilla Española).

After 10 minutes of exploration, I was done with the Old City.

Outside the east gate, I discovered Madame Thai Cookery School down a back alley.  I signed up for a lesson.





4 dishes for 700 THB (about 20 USD).

I went with tom yum kung, phad siew gai, tom woon sen , and phad kraphrao.

The food was pretty crappy — through no fault of my own, I assure you.  The first problem was that the ingredients were skimpy and shoddy.  E.G., the tom woon sen featured cheap hotdogs, uncooked, which I didn’t bother to eat — would’ve been better with nothing at all.  More significantly, the technique was loose and lazy — dump everything into a wok, season with soy/oyster/fish sauce, done — could’ve done better just winging it.  Rip-off, considering how far 700 baht can go in a restaurant here.

As evidenced by the lack of color in the phad siew (top right), dark soy sauce was omitted as a “no need” ingredient.

Still, the experience made for a mildly amusing hour, preferable to looking at temples.

Madame Thai was pleasant enough, though she did smell too much like stale cigarettes.

On a positive note, I discovered how simple tom yum can be to prepare.

The course came with a hand-bound cookbook.

Anusarn Market, one of several comprising Chiang Mai’s sprawling night bazaar district, the biggest assemblage of souvenirs, particularly craft items, that I’ve ever seen.

By 2200, I still wasn’t hungry after my mid-afternoon feast.

On the verge of calling it a day, going back to the hotel, and featuring something from Madame Thai for this post’s spotlight item — which would’ve been fine — I happened across Mho-O-Cha.

Mho-O-Cha is a Thai/Chinese restaurant, located in Anusarn Market.
Specializes in seafood, primarily shellfish, which is selected by the customer, sold by weight, and prepared in a variety of styles, both on and off menu.
Note : point-of-sale marketing for softshell crab.

Seeing this and other similar establishments in the area, I can now understand why people sometimes refer to this kind of set-up — e.g., Seafood Market in Manila (see generally 4.263 Parros Clams…) — as “Thai.”

Whatever the attribution, my favorite food in the world is fresh seafood, Asiatic in style — I mean, what is the appeal of boiling a lobster and dipping the rubbery flesh in clarified butter, as Americans are wont to do?

1,400 THB/kg = about 1,800 PHP/kg — by coincidence, that’s almost exactly what giant prawns cost at Seafood Market = about 18 USD/lb.

When I tried to order the prawns in white pepper sauce (see for example 6.044 Slipper Lobster in White Pepper Sauce), the manager vehemently refused and passionately insisted on black pepper (see generally 3.314 Black Pepper King Crab; see most recently 6.133 Black Pepper Slipper Lobster).  Couldn’t refuse.



The black pepper giant prawns were AWESOME.  Cooked to perfect precision, wok-seared with hints of charred smokiness.  Heaped — to the point of wastefulness — with deep-fried aromatics and various whole peppercorns, mostly black and green.  Every bite  — even without actual peppercorns — intensely white-hot, but not at all spicy in the chili sense.

A popular local spirit, whether it’s a “rum” or “whisky” (see for example 4.252 Tom Woon Sen).
Chinese Broccoli in Oyster Sauce (2.5)
Poonim Phad Phong Kari (1.5) — except for the very first time (on my honeymoon in Phuket, way back when), I have yet to enjoy this dish in at the source (see for example 6.068 Tom Yum Kung).

So, I stuck around for a couple more dishes, if only to finish off the SangSom.  The rest was just okay, but it was a fine meal overall and a fulfilling way to end my first day of fun in Chiang Mai.

To commemorate the occasion, I got ink — via the Thai technique of bamboo tattooing.
Henceforth, I shall get commemorative ink in every city that I can, on the leg, to symbolize the travel (get it?) — MNL, ICN next.

2 thoughts on “6.173 Black Pepper Giant Prawns

  1. your leg is about to be all tatted up – i expect you to have at least 10 three-letter airport codes the next time i see you.

    1. well, the challenge is finding a tattoo parlor. korea, for example, as well as i know the city, i’ve never seen a tattoo parlor (thouugh in korea’s case, one shouldn’t be difficult to find via internet).

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