Monday, 15 December 2014

Baan Mon Muan

We're so lucky in Chiang Mai. Going to the mountains and back to nature is just about 30-40min away from the city. Mae Rim is one of those places perfect for a day trip.

Being on one of the main tourist routes in Chiang Mai, there are lots of attractions to visit.... And if you want to avoid tourist attractions like a plague, let me tell you that there are also lots of lovely eateries and cafes that the average tour bus to the elephant camp and orchid farm may not take you.

So it was a sunny "winter's" day in Chiang Mai with lovely clear blue sky. What else is there to do but head for Mae Rim. I started to unwind as soon as I drove up the mountain road, up past the resorts, past the elephant camp and took the turn to Mon Cham and Baan Mon Muan, driving further and further up the steep windy road.

Reaching perhaps about 2/3rd of the way to the peak, there's a Muay Thai camp on the left, and on the right, a road to the Royal Project and Baan Mon Muan, a small mountain top resort with a restaurant with breathtaking view!

The food is is lovely too. The menu is quite extensive, offering simple home style dishes.

The restaurant opens at 7:30am, serving a buffet breakfast (400 baht per person).

Speaking to the waitress, vegetable dishes are highly recommended as salad veggies are grown on the premises, other veggies are obtained from the nearby Royal Project or local farmers, so they are super fresh! The restaurant also try to use as much organic vegetables as possible.

Not feeling like a salad, we went for the Stir-fried Three Kinds of Mushrooms in Oyster Sauce (shiitake, eringii and black jelly).  I must say it was lovely. The mushrooms were very fresh and crunchy. The serving was quite large too. 150 baht

Now for some meat - Fried Pork with Garlic and Pepper. Very tasty with plenty of fried garlic to add to the fragrance and the crunch; perfectly cooked pork - tender yet still with the right amount of chewiness, and well seasoned with oyster sauce and lots of pepper! 150 baht

And now for Tom Kha Gai, which is one of my favourite Thai soups. It's a bit like tom yum soup with coconut milk. The flavour here sour and spicy, with a bit of creaminess from the coconut milk. Baan Mon Muan's tom kha gai is refreshing, tangy and spicy, and also interestingly comes with a bit of a crunch from the broccoli. 150 baht.

The three dishes were more than enough for two extremely hungry girls! It was a busy Sunday of a long weekend, so the restaurant was packed. We had to wait quite a while for our meal. It was worth it though, and I'll definitely go back when I get a chance, perhaps with a few more people so I can try a few other dishes offered here. Any takers? ; D

They do have tables on the balconies with superb view of the surrounding mountains. You do need to book ahead if you'd like one of those tables.

Located in the upper terrace, these might be the best tables in the restaurant! 
As an alternative place to eat in the area, you could try Mon Cham:
Actually, if you're going up that way, most likely, your destination would be Mon Cham anyway. They also serve good food, but the ambience is a bit different!

Baan Mon Muan
175 Moo 2,
T. Pongyaeng, A. Mae Rim, Chiang Mai
Tel: 083 318 6444, 083 318 6555
GPS Location: +18° 55' 23.63", +98° 49' 16.66"

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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Le Spice - Indian, Thai and International Cuisine

Chiang Mai isn't one of those places renowned for Indian cuisine. There are only a handful of Indian restaurants here, and if you ask locals or expats, Le Spice is possibly the restaurant that people will think of.

The restaurant is located in the Night Bazaar, making it very accessible to tourists, so would be a good choice if you're travelling in Chiang Mai and looking for something different.

I've been to Le Spice several times, and I find the food and service here fairly consistent. The restaurant has a lovely ambience with a warm and welcoming decor, good food, and friendly staff.

The food at Le Spice, seems to me to be on the mild side, which is kind of ironic, considering the name...but that's not a bad thing because I found that subtle flavours of the milder dishes quite enjoyable and easier on the stomach!

Dips / sauces are served at the start of the meal. My favourite here is the mint sauce - very cooling and refreshing and at the same time, slightly spicy. The other sauces were very nice too. We ordered some papadams which were crispy, slightly salty and warm, which went very nicely with the sauces.

Here are some other dishes my little party had:

Tandori Mixed Grill - grilled chicken, mutton, fish and prawns served with onion ring. The meats came sizzing hot not the hot plate (which, incidentally, we expected it to be a little larger!). Anyway, I really enjoyed the fish and prawns which were well spiced, and nice and juicy. The mutton "rolls" were pretty good too. The chicken, I thought, was well seasoned, but a bit dry, but went down well with the mint sauce. 300 baht.

Malai Theenga Curry - "delicately cooked fresh prawns in creamy sauce". I don't know much about Indian food, and so won't go into much details here except that this was my favourite dish for the night. The curry is very mild and delicate. Eat it slowly to enjoy the complexity of flavours. A really lovely dish! 150 baht 

Samosas - fried pastry with potato and peas filling. The filling is lovely with a great curry flavour and was steaming hot when the samosas were broken open. 30 baht


After all the mild dishes, we thought we would like to try something spicy! The waitress advised us to get vindaloo curry, which was definitely fiery. I found the curry to be a little disappointing though, as the flavours did not seem to be as "developed" (I don't know if that's the correct term for it!!), and I could only feel the heat of the curry. May be it would have tasted better the next day!

Overall though, it was an enjoyable and satisfying meal, and a nice change from the usual (but very good) offerings of Thai, Italian, Japanese and Korean food. The setting was lovely too, and the service pretty good.

Don't forget to check out their set meals at the back of the menu - very good selection and great value too!

Le Spice
31 Charoen Prathet Rd Soi 6
Night Bazaar Area (in the soi just after Kalare building)
Tel: 053 234 983
Opens daily

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