Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Hanoi Namneung Vietnamese Food

For the last couple of weeks, a large banner with a picture of Vietnamese Namneung and been seducing us to eat at this newly opened road side restaurant. The restaurant is simple, but quite attractive and clean looking.

It seemed though that the family running the place is quite new at running a restaurant, and there are a few teething problems - like some dishes on the rather simple menu were "not available yet", and no mosquito repellent. The waiter told us there are no mosquitos here! LOL..for the record, there were HUGE mosquitos. I guess they'll provide repellants soon enough if a lot of customers asked for them.

Hanoi Namneung's specialty is .... Namneung - a kind of Vietnamese pork ball rolled into sausage shape, served with fresh vegies, herbs, and rice paper. It's a fun dish to eat - the namneungs are sliced into small circular discs, and then we roll up our own "fresh spring rolls" with the softened rice paper wraps. Hanoi Namneung's Namneung is quite tasty. The sauce was a little too sweet, but still quite yummy and peanuty. 85 bath for the small serving (3 "sausages").

The fresh spring rolls were lovely - lots of fresh vegies, herbs and tofu. The sauce was way too sweet, so don't put too much! 40 baht.

Sugarcane prawns - these were quite nicely done. The "meat" was nice and firm, a little chewy, but still tender at the same time - just the way I like it. (Some other restaurants make it too soft for my taste). Same sauce as the sugarcane prawns. In fact, the same sauce is used in all the dishes except for the namneung. 70 baht.

The Herbed Pork Leg Stew was quite good too - a variation from the typical thai pork leg dishes. Served with rice - pretty good value at only 40 baht.

The Spring rolls (deep-fried) was not so great though. It was served cold and the spring rolls skin soft. 45 baht.

The Verdict
Not a bad restaurant. Simple with quite good food. Not much variety. Hopefully we'll get more to choose from as the family settles into their business. Good value - only 290 baht for 3 of us!

The Rating
ABoldmbience: 6/10
Food: 6/10
Price: 7/10

Hanoi Namneung
Middle (1st) Ring Road
(Between Doi Saket Road & Mae Jo Road, close to Meechok Plaza)

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Sunday, 19 December 2010

See Fah Kao Mun Gai (Chicken Rice shop)

Kao Mun Gai shop

Chicken Rice ("Kao Mun Gai") is another one of those popular dishes in Thailand. You can find it almost anywhere, and there are many shops that specialises in Kao Mun Gai.

Kao Mun Gai shop

Chicken Rice is a very simple dish composing of boiled chicken, plain rice cooked in chicken broth, and served with a soy bean sauce (generally a combination of soy bean paste, ginger, garlic, soy sauce, etc). Although its seems like a simple dish and rather plain in flavour compared to other Thai dishes, Kao Mun Gai is full of wonderful subtle flavours, and very delicious...and especially good for those who can't eat spicy food (just don't put too much sauce)!

Most of the eateries / street stalls in Thailand will also serve cooked chicken blood with the dish, but that's not really my cup of tea, so I usually ask for no blood (as well as no fat on the chicken!).

Kao Mun Gai

I usually have my Kao Mun Gai at See Fah at Meechok Plaza, Chiang Mai, since it's near my office and it's very clean. See Fah's rice is especially great, and served steaming and fragrant. Their sauce is very tasty, and you can add fresh ginger and chilli to your liking!

"Kao Mun Gai"

The price is good too! 25 baht for "regular" size, and 30 baht for "piset" or "special" (which means a bigger portion).

Kao Mun Gai restaurants can be found pretty much everywhere and also in food courts.

See Fah Kao Mun Gai
Meechok Plaza (near Rimping Supermarket)
Opens early in the morning till around 3-4 pm.

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Monday, 13 December 2010

Vieng Joom On Teahouse (aka "Pink Teahouse")

Vieng Joom On (aka Pink Tea house), Chiang mai

Vieng Joom On is one of my favourite places to bring visitors when they come to Chiang Mai. Literally, Vieng Joom On means "pink city" ...and yes, it's a pink themed tea house / tea shop. Guys, don't worry, other than the bright pink main building, the rest of the tea house isn't totally pink! There is also a beautiful garden terrace out the back where customers can relax, sip tea, have snacks and chat with friends.

There is a huge selection of tea to choose from - various Chinese teas, masala, chai, rooibos, fruit teas, as well as Vieng Joom On's own blends. They also serve various snacks, sandwiches and desserts such as Cherry Panna Cotta, scones and High-tea set.

Vieng Joom On (aka Pink Tea house), Chiang mai

If you happen to like any of the teas offered and want to take some home, you'll be able to buy them from the gorgeously decorated tea shop. Warning - it's not cheap - but the packaging is so beautiful and the tea very high quality.

Vieng Joom On (aka Pink Tea house), Chiang mai

Highly recommended for tea lovers.

Vieng Joom On Teahouse

53 Charoenraj Rd

T. Watgate A. Muang Chiang Mai 5000

Opens daily 10:00am-7:00pm

Tel: 053 303 113

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Saturday, 4 December 2010

Ginger & Kafe

"East-West eclectic funky - fun casual chill-out bristo" is how Ginger & Kafe describes itself on its website. I guess that's not too far from the truth. Ginger & Kafe is funky and definitely a great place to chill out and lounge on the colourful sofas. For the more fashionable diners, there is a lovely (and a little pricey) boutique selling clothes and accessories at the back of the cafe.

The food is great too. Ginger and Kafe serves both Thai and Western Food and offers a wide variety of choices. The Thai food is great, the Western food is OK (but not terribly great!). If you go, I'd highly recommend Thai food.

The service was pretty good. The staff can speak English quite well, and quite accommodating. A fellow diner is gluten intolerant and we simply told the waitress that she is allergic to oyster sauce and soy sauce (both contain small amount of wheat) and request that the dishes we ordered shouldn't have any of these ingredients. She promptly checks with the kitchen and comes back informing that we shouldn't order any Thai food as all the Thai dishes contain soy sauce or oyster sauce! The dishes won't be tasty without these ingredients! However, after we tell her it's fine to use fish sauce or salt, the kitchen still produced very good dishes.

The drinks menu was quite interesting and filled with names like Pep Up and Wow Crazy. I had Pep Up - a very refreshing lime juice based drink. Definitely pepped me up! 140 baht.

The Thai food is great, as mentioned earlier - tasty and high quality (even without soy sauce and oyster sauce!). The Pad Thai - although a typical Thai street food dish, is excellent, well, at least the way I like it - tasty, moist but not soggy. The flavours are perfectly balanced. 110 baht.

The Pomelo Salad is also great, minus the crispy pork which is left out because it's marinated in soy sauce. 120 baht.

Stir-fried Pork and Mushroom with Roasted Chilli Paste. This actually came stir-fried with red curry paste. I guess the roasted chilli paste must have soy sauce or oyster sauce. Anyway, it was very nice as well. 140 baht.

The total bill came to 913 baht (including the 10% service charge added). Pricier than regular Thai restaurants, but it's worth it considering the lovely ambience, the location (in the old town with lots of parking), and the quality of the food.

The Verdict:
Beautiful cafe to relax and hang out with friends and bring guests. Lovely ambience, good Thai food, OK Western food. Good parking. A little pricy, but worth it.

The Rating:
Ambience: 7/10
Food: 7/10 (Thai); 5/10 (Western)
Price: 6/10

Ginger & Kafe
199 Moonmuang Road
T. Sriphum, A. Muang
Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 419011
Opens daily: 10am to midnight. Last orders 10:30pm

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Saturday, 27 November 2010

Talay Mahachai (Mahachai Seafood) มหาชัยซีฟู๊ด

Chiang Mai isn't one of those cities famous for its' seafood. In fact, Chiang Mai is so far from the sea most of the seafood restaurants we have tried here have, well, been rather disappointing! Fortunately, Mahachai's seafood is decent enough to curb our seafood cravings. OK, it doesn't match Phuket's finest, but the seafood at Mahachai is fresh, and the taste, pretty good.

This is quite a popular restaurant too. We arrived around 5:30pm. The tables were already filling up, and they've already ran out of some of the popular dishes. By 6:30pm, the place was packed.

First thing we noticed about the Mahachai? As we got out of the car, we could smell the delicious food aroma. Pretty good start, isn't it? It's not a fancy restaurant - an open air kind of place with a tin roof, metal tables and plastic chairs. However, Mahachai is surprisingly clean.

Now to the drink. Normally I wouldn't mention beers, as they are pretty much the same everywhere. However, Mahachai's beer is quite special! The Leo is served ice cold. Can you see the ice-crystals in the glass?

As for the food:

Stir-fried Prawns with Black Peppers - This looks impressive enough. Huge and juicy prawns stir-fried with black pepper, shallots, lots of ginger, and a hint of curry powder. The prawns could probably be a bit fresher, but good enough. The sauce very nice on rice.

Curry Crab - Quite a nice dish. Yummy crab stir fried with curry and egg. The sauce was quite rich and creamy, but too sweet. Still, it was quite nice with rice. The fun part of eating crab, of course, is using your hands and getting into the mess.

"Po Tak" - this is a tom yum soup dish with mixed seafood. Very tasty - tangy, full of herbs and very spicy! There were heaps of bird's eye chillies!

We saw that almost every other tables around us ordered these steamed clam-things. So we ordered a plate too. You eat these with the "Seafood sauce" - a sauce consisting of lime juice, chilli, garlic, fish sauce and palm sugar. Not too sure if they are my cup of tea, but they are nice and plump, and quite crunchy too. The off-putting thing about it is that well, it's full of blood, well, cooked blood that's still oozing out when you put a fork through it. (Sorry if I've ruined your appetite!). Thais seem to love it though!

The Verdict:
Good seafood restaurant, particularly for Chiang Mai. Not much of an ambience, but good food. They're so busy the service is not great but passable. Can't complain too much though, because the food is quite good value. The price turned out to be 1250 baht (0f which the 750 baht for for the crab) for 4 people. I think we'll have prawns next time - much better value. Very clean!

The Rating:
Ambience: 5/10
Food: 7/10
Price: 7/10

Mahachai Seafood
Right next to "Baan Pimuk 3" on the Middle Ring Road, before Payap University entrance.
Look out for the bright blue sign just like the 1st photo of the menu!
Tel: 084611953, 0869204488
Opens from 11am-10pm

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Monday, 8 November 2010

Huen Jai Yong เฮือนใจ๋ยอง

On the first look at the English name of the restaurant, one could be mistaken for thinking it's a Korean Restaurant. However, this great restaurant is as Northern Thai as it comes. As for the name: "Huen" in Northen Thai dialect, means "house"; "Jai" means heart; "Yong" is the name of a minority group in this area.

The ambience at Huen Jai Yong is relaxing, warm and friendly. You can dine under the traditional teakwood house (ground floor), upstairs, or in the gallery style rooms with only a couple of tables if you'd like somewhere a little more private.

I just love these wooden boats cum table under the original teakwood house.

As there were 10 of us, so we decided to go into the gallery. A photo of one of the walls.

The Food

Our first course? Well, let's start with dessert - these lovely coconut jellies from a stall in front of the restaurant. These little roses were very refreshing and filled with intense coconut flavours. Best eaten when they are cold.

We were then ready for our meal. Here are some dishes we had:

Gai Muang Neung Samun Prai (ไก่เมืองนึ่งสมุนไพร)- Steamed chicken with herbs. A lovely savory dish. The chicken was nice and tender, and the soup great with sticky rice. Just a side note - Northern Thais tend to eat their meals with sticky rice instead of the normal rice. At Huen Jai Yong, we also get a choice of the regular white sticky rice, or the brown sticky rice. I'd recommend you try the brown sticky rice - nice and chewy with a bit of a crunch, and full of flavour. 50-120 baht.

Larb Pla Nin Kua (ลาบปลานิลคั่ว) - Larb Kua is a northern style Larb (a kind of minced meat and herbs salad). This particular dish consisted of minced Nile Tilapia fish (Pla Nin) mixed with various spices. Very nice. 50 baht.

Kaeng Kanun (แกงขนุน) - Jackfruit curry. I loved it, but may be you won't! Try it though, if you're want to try something a bit different, or you're feeling adventurous! It's a bit of an acquired taste. Northern curries do not usually contain coconut milk, and Kaeng Kanun is no exception. This curry is more like a soup but with pork ribs, young jackfruit, various vegies, tomatoes, various herbs and spices, and shrimp paste. 40 baht.

Nam Prik Ong (น้ำพริกอ่อง) - A pork and tomato based chilli dip - very nice savoury and slightly spicy dish, usually eaten with fresh vegetables. Incidentally, at Huan Jai Yong, you can help yourselves to as much clean (in some restaurants this may not be the case!) and fresh vegies as you like. 40 baht.

The Verdict
A very good restaurant, lovely ambience, great Northern Thai food. Some of the dishes may not suit everyone's taste, but it's a good choice if you are feeling a bit adventurous and enjoy trying new things, or foodie who enjoys discovering new tastes and flavours.

The Rating
Ambience: 7/10
Food: 7/10
Price: Great value! It worked out to be about 100 baht/person.

Huen Jai Yong
64 M 4 Buak Kang, San Kamphaeng, Chaing Mai
Tel: 086 6718710, 086 7302673

From Big C (Don Chan Intersection), head towards San Kamphaeng (Road 1317) . Go pass the Outer Ring Road / Road 1317 intersection, do a U-turn at Km 9. Just after the U-turn, the restaurant will be on your left.

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Saturday, 30 October 2010


We were let down by Georgio several times - every time we went, we were turned away. We didn't have a booking, and there were no tables left for us. Finally, we got our act together and remembered to make a reservation! So after three years in Chiang Mai, we finally made it to Georgio.

We found Georgio to an unpretentious restaurant, very cosy and comfortable. The service was warm and friendly, and the food generally excellent. We went on a Saturday night and almost all the tables have been booked.

The menu was very extensive. I think the waitress said over 200 items! We had no idea what to order! The waitress was very helpful in her recommendations:

Cozze Alpomodoro (Baked New Zealand mussels served with special tomato sauce) - Huge juicy mussels (all 8 of them) with this very beautiful and tasty tomato sauce. Turned out to be great and rather big entree. 280 baht.

Ceasar Salad. I also really quite enjoyed this one. It was quite simple for a Ceasar Salad, actually. Crispy lettuce, very good parmesan, and a light but very tasty dressing - we could really taste the olive oil and anchovies. The great thing was that it also felt quite healthy...for a ceasar salad! 170 baht.

Linguine Gamberie Limone (Linguine with prawns and lemon zest). This was another great recommendation. I've never had anything like it. Prawns and lemon with pasta. It was lovely, nice and tangy and a little creamy. The prawns were also nice and fresh, the tails were even removed. Good attention to detail. 260 baht.

By the time all the food came out, we thought we probably needed to order another dish (which we actually really didn't need!) Anyway, we decided to order Spaghetti Pesto. Pesto is our family's favourite pasta sauce, and wanted to see how it compared with our homemade version. : P

Interestingly, the waitress tried to steer us away from this choice a couple of times. She thought it would be better for us to try to order something different - like a pizza, which, apparently, is pretty good at Georgio too.

So how was the pesto? Georgio's pesto (200 baht) was quite good. The spaghetti was drenched in olive oil, then the fragrant pesto sauce placed on top. I thought the dish was quite oily. So the verdict was that our homemade pesto is better!

In the end though, we did enjoy ourselves and will be back (eventually!) to try other dishes. The bill came to around 1040 baht (service charge added extra) for 3 persons. A little expensive, but we were very full! I wanted to try the tiramisu, but couldn't fit another thing in.

2/6 Prachasampan Rd
Muang, Chiang Mai
(near intersection with Sridonchai Rd - close to the Night Bazaar)
Tel: 053 818 236
Opens: 11:30am-2:30pm and 6pm-10:30pm.
Booking highly recommended.

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Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Auberge French & Steak Restaurant (Now closed)

This new kid on the block has just been opened for about a week. Well, new kid on the Chiang Mai block... Auberge French Restaurant has actually been around for a while in Bangkok, and has just relocated to Chiang Mai's Palm Spring Hotel (at Palm Spring Village, Mahidol Rd).

This sparking new fine dining restaurant joins a throng of French Restaurants in Chiang Mai, including Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi's superb Farang Ses, and one of Asia's finest restaurants, Le Coq D'Or.

Auberge Restaurant holds itself up rather well, with an elegant decor, professional and friendly waiting staff, and most important of all, good food.

The Tasting Menu (1500 baht net with free flow wine) was worth a try. It had a sample of some of the chef's recommended dishes in small portions. Here are the dishes from the Tasting Menu:

Pan-fried duck liver (foie gras), a sea scallop, marinated salmon served with rocket salad. I'm no expert on foie gras - I don't have it that often!... But I thought Auberge's foie gras fattier than other restaurants'. The sauce was unexpectedly sweet but whole dish was very pleasant.

Truffle Soup & Pumpkin Soup - served separately, of course, in little cups. Both soups were lovely. The Truffle Soup was nice but quite salty. The Pumpkin Soup was great - it had a very pleasant smooth taste, yet it wasn't too creamy. Very nice indeed.

Raspberry & Lemon Sherbet. It was rather surprising to have these in the middle of the meal, but apparently that's a done thing in France. These were simply delightful! So smooth and a little creamy, yet still refreshingly tangy.

For the main course, there were the Roasted Lamb Chop, Roasted Duck Breast and Pan Fried Snow Fish. All the meats were very nicely cooked. Lovely and tender. Beautifully presented too.

To finish off the tasting menu, we were served a trio of decadent desserts - Creme Brulee (beautiful!); Chocolate Dome (very rich and chocolaty); and a profiterole (very yummy with the vanilla ice-cream filling).

So that was the tasting menu. We rather enjoyed it!

Other members of our group had steak - I must say it was VERY good, and there was even a choice of mustards and condiments to choose from to go with the steak. The Fettucini with Tiger Prawns in Lobster Sauce was also excellent.

We had a really good time at Auberge. Although a fine dining restaurant, the staff was very friendly and down to earth. We all felt very comfortable. Auberge would make good choice for that special occasion.

Auberge Restaurant Chiang Mai
122 Palm Spring Hotel
Mahidol Rd
T. Nonghoi, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 308 388

Opens daily for lunch & dinner
Lunch: 11:30am-2:00pm
Dinner: 6:00pm-10:30pm

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