Most of the northern dishes can be sampled at a "Khantoke Dinner" in Chiang Mai. It is a perfect event where you can learn more about traditional northern cuisine while enjoying traditional music and dance. Khantok in the Northern dialect means a wooden tray used for carrying dishes. Round in shape, it is made of wood, varnished or lacquered with 5 or 6 short supporting legs.
Guests are invited to sit on the floor around a Khantok, a circular tray with Northern dishes on it. They can enjoy watching traditional northern dances as well as hilltribe culture shows while their meal is being served.
The main dishes on the Khantok usually are steamed sticky rice, kaeng hang-le (northern-style pork curry), kaeng ho (spicy curry of bean vermicelli), kaeng om (spicy curry of entrails), sai ua (Chiang Mai sausage), lap (minced meat, half cooked and highly seasoned), nam phrik ong (chili paste with minced pork and tomatoes), which usually goes with khaep mu (crispy pork rinds) and khao soi (chicken/ pork /beef curry soup with noodles. Guests are encouraged to eat with their hands, as the locals do. The eating procedure is easy: take a handful of steamed sticky rice from the bamboo basket, roll, and dip it into the curry or chili paste and then taste it.
After the meal, a dessert called khao taen fried sticky rice covered with caramel is served. Also served are khiyo cigars and fermented tea, which is chewed to help digestion. The khiyo cigar is made of shredded tobacco and ground tamarind bark (khiyo), which can reduce the strong odor of tobacco.
During the Khantok Dinner, several dances and shows are performed. The most popular Northern dance is fon lep or fingernail dance. This show is impressive as female dancers are dressed in Northern Thai style, and wear long pointed brass fingernails.