Friday 18 December 2009

Suan Paak Restaurant

Famous for their salads and noodle dishes, especially Yen-ta-fos, Suan Paak (literally "Vegetable Garden"), is a complex of three restaurants. The original Suan Paak Restaurant serves salads, organically grown in their hydroponic garden, various Western dishes, and Thai dishes. There is also a Thai Restaurant, and the newer Noodle Restaurant on the premises. Whatever restaurant you end up going to, you won't miss out on the food from the other places, because you can order from all three!

My favourite is the Yen-ta-fo, a rice noodle dish (choose from thin or thick noodles), seafood (or fishballs, whatever you like), morning glory, white fungus, etc., in a tasty pink-red soup. Don't worry, the red colour isn't from blood (although blood cubes are often in the soup - can you spot them?), but from fermented red tofu. The soup is rich in flavour and of course, very delicious! Most noodle shops will sell Yen-ta-fo, but Suan Paak's Seafood Yen-ta-fo possibly costs the highest (and spiciest??), at 130 baht per dish - but you do get a lot of seafood - large prawns, and very big mussels and calamari. The serving is very large, possibly 3 times what you'd get at 30 baht places. The soup is also a lot tastier than your average noodle shop & served with crispy salmon skin that you can soak in the soup...a bit like croutons! Mmm.

Suan Pak's signature dish, though, is Khao Ping (literally, Grilled Rice). It's basically rice stir-fried with Thai shrimp paste, chilli and mince pork, wrapped in banana leaves and grilled. Served with fresh vegies (including lotus stem) and a very delicious clear mushroom soup. The shrimp paste gives the rice a very rich, earthy flavour, which I found very nice on the first few bites, but became too strong if the rice was eaten by itself, but was great with the salad. Not sure if I would have it again though, but it was very interesting and worth a try, and I'd recommend you try it, especially if you have someone to share with! 90 baht.

Here's the Chef's Salad. We ordered it because it was the most expensive - at 290 baht (most of the others were around 100-150 baht). No, I don't usually go around ordering the most expensive dishes on the menu, but I was curious - What's so special about it? Well, it has EVERYTHING - a combination of all the other salads on the menu, and it was humungous! They also had a selection of dressings to choose from. We went for the creamy dressing, which was served on the side, and very good as well.

The previous time I had the Thai dressing, which was very tasty, but it overpowered the western-style salad somewhat - much, much too strong. However, the salad with the Thai dressing went really well with the Khao Ping. The tartness and spiciness of the dressing complimented the salty, earthy flavour of the Khao Ping really well.

In the end, it was an enjoyable meal, especially the Yen-ta-fo! Suan Paak also has a lot of other interesting sounding dishes, so we'll definitely be back!

Suan Paak
61 Moo 3, Airport Rd,
T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50200
(Next to Airport Plaza)
Tel: 053 202222, 053 904201

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Monday 7 December 2009

Yangzi Jiang

We were rather excited to finally check out the 1.5 year old Yangzi Jiang ("Yangzi River") Cantonese Restaurant. Having previously been to and really enjoyed its' older-sister restaurant, Mei Jiang ("Beautiful River") on Changklan Rd several times, we thought Yangzi Jiang would be a sure bet for Thailand's Father's Day dinner.

Yangzi Jiang is situated in an elegant home in the trendy Nimanhaemin Area. It's quite famous for dim sum/yum cha, and authentic Cantonese dishes. Having grown up with Cantonese cuisine in Sydney, it was exactly what I have been craving! We were even more excited when we overheard someone on the next table say, "Everything here is good!", exactly our sentiments about Mei Jiang.

So there we were, pouring over the rather large menu and interesting sounding dishes. Finally, we settled for:

Salmon Spring Rolls - what a great start! This turned out to be my favourite dish. The rolls were filled with salmon fillet, celery stick, and something white and creamy - perhaps mayonnaise. The Salmon Spring Rolls were served with more salty/sweet tasting creamy mayonnaise which complemented so wonderfully with the salmon. The celery gave each bite a crunch. Scrumptious!

Stir-fried Squids with Morning Glory and Chilli Shrimp Paste - this was also a rather interesting dish. I think the "Chilli Shrimp Paste" used here is Belachan paste, or at least tasted very similar to it. The squid was very nicely cooked - firm but not tough to chew, and the morning glory was delicious with the salty, rich and aromatic flavour of the shrimp paste, garlic and a hint of ginger.

Yangzi Jiang's roast duck was also quite good - in the sense that we could tell that the duck was of good quality - great texture and nice crispy skin, and not much fat. Unfortunately though, it tasted rather bland. The best thing about it was the bed of chewy peanuts and the tasty sauce under the duck! We soaked up the sauce with a very lovely mantou (Chinese bun), right out of the steamer.

As an aside, I would put Yangzi Jiang's roast duck at number 3 so far in Chiang Mai. The best was at Mandarin Oriental's fabulous Chinese Restaurant, Fujian, and my second favourite, a little local eatery owned by the chef at Shangri-la Hotel.

Fried Eggplant Stuffed with Mashed Shrimp with Chilli and Salt. The golden coloured stuffed eggplants looked pretty good, but oily. The first few bites were quite nice, especially if eaten with the very lightly fried garlic (which still had the raw taste), chilli and salt mixture. The spiciness of raw-ish garlic and chilli helped to breakdown the oiliness a little, but unfortunately not enough. We couldn't finish off the dish and I felt like needing a good cup of tea afterwards!

Finally, the last dish, Fried Yin Yang Vermicelli with Roasted Duck and Sichuan Pickle. It was an interesting dish, and tasted rather good too, but a shame that it was also too oily.

All in all a bit of a mixed-bag experience. Some of the dishes were great, others not so. The service was quite good in the beginning, but became a bit more inattentive as they got busier. That's understandable though, because they pretty much had a full house - being Father's Day and also having long weekend tourists coming up from Bangkok.

I will go back again - I think they deserve another try!

The price worked out to be about 300 baht per person without alcohol.

Yangzi Jiang (Cantonese Cuisine)
10 Nimmanhaemin Soi 5
Suthep, Muang, Chiang Mai 50200
Tel: 053 225 313
Open: 11:30am-2:30pm and 6pm-11pm.
Booking recommended.

Or, if you'd like to try Mei Jiang (Hong Kong Style Rice, Noodles & Congee)
191/17-18 Changkhlan Plaza (near Shangri-la Hotel)
Changklan Rd
Changklan, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100
Open: 11:30am-2:30pm, 5:50pm-9:00pm
Tel: 053 821 112
Does not take booking.

*Update: 13th March 2011

Yesterday we went back to Yangzi Jiang for dinner. It was still a mixed-bag experience! The restaurant was full again. The service was pretty slow and mostly inattentive again.

This time we ordered:

Peking Duck (800 baht + 7% VAT) - I must say the Peking Duck here is excellent! Possibly my favourite in Chiang Mai. The skin was light and crispy, and all the fat has pretty much been scraped off. The pancake was very well done too - the texture just right, soft and supple enough not to break. The pancakes didn't stick to each other either. I noticed almost every other table also ordered the Peking Duck.

We also had a choice of what to do with the meat and chose the noodles - stir-fried. It came a long time later. The waitress explained to us that so many people ordered Peking Duck it was taking a while to carve. When the noodles finally arrived, we were quite excited. However, this turned out to be nothing special and flavourless. The duck meat was quite tough and chewy. The noodles turned out to be 100 baht extra - this wasn't mentioned in the menu.

The stir-fried vegetables was also excellent - very fresh crispy vegies, but very expensive at 120 baht as the serving was very, very small.

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Tuesday 1 December 2009

Talad Nut - Part 1

Having reviewed so many nice restaurants lately, I think it's time to visit something a bit more basic - the local market, well, more precisely, the "Talad Nut". "Talad Nut" are local markets that are held in the evenings and sell everything from clothing, shoes, accessories, and plenty! "Talad Nuts" are usually held once or twice a week in an area. Vendors typically move to different "Talad Nuts" each day of the week. For example, the Somtum (papaya salad) vendor might be at Meechok Plaza (a local shopping centre) on Mondays and Tuesdays, the rest of the week might be spent at other "Talad Nuts", and on Sundays, the Sunday Walking Street (the ultimate "Talad Nut"!).

Here are a few samplings of what you might find to eat at Talad Nuts:

My favourite - Moo Kham Wan - Spicy grilled pork (nice and tender) served with fresh vegies and this super amazing chilli and lime dip. We often keep the dip for use during the week on other dishes like grilled fish.

"Talad Nut" is also the place to buy your dinner! This lady sells various dishes that you can take home in plastic bags.

Here is something that looks rather nicely presented - sausage wrap in bread. Good size for eating on the go while you look around the market.

You can even get sushi! The weather has been pretty cool, but may not be so good in the heat in summer! It's pretty popular though and turn over is pretty quick.

Delicious grilled pork sticks!

Hope you're not too hungry yet! More coming up soon in Part 2!

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Thursday 19 November 2009

Alice in Phuket

Taking a break from the Chiang Mai foodie scene, I took a holiday with my family from Oz to the resort island of Phuket. I was not the organiser of this trip, so I just sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the ride, which is nice for a change! ..and since I was so busy just before, I didn't get a chance to research Phuket restaurants.

There was, however, one restaurant that we discovered on our first trip last year, and we couldn't wait to go back to this time, and that was Lotus, at Bangtao Beach. As for the other restaurants, we went by the recommendation of our driver, Khun Mon, which turned out to be quite good (mostly!).

Lotus Restaurant, Bangtao Beach, Phuket

Lotus Restaurant is an independent fine dining restaurant right on Bangtao Beach serving seafood, Thai food, as well as burgers and steaks. There is something for every one, even the non-seafood lover!

The restaurant is situated just behind the Laguna Resorts complex, which consists of various resorts and hotels including the Sheraton and Dusit Thani, and I'd say most of the clientele comes from Laguna.

At this point, most of you may think, "tourist restaurant", which means may be OK food and exorbitant prices. Not so at all. I'd count it as one of my favourite restaurants in Thailand (not that I have been to THAT many, mind you, and I've only been to a handfull of restaurants in Phuket). Not only is the view from Lotus is stunning, the food, especially the seafood, is fantastic.

As we arrived quite early (5:30pm) for the sunset, we started of with drinks and entrees of various Thai staples - Deep fried prawn cakes, Beef Salad, Spring rolls, Tom Yum Koong - all of which were lovely. The prawn cakes were quite large, firm in texture, and delicious. The beef in the Beef Salad was tender and had a smokey flavour. My favourite was the Tom Yum Koong (Prawn tom yum soup) - the fragrant soup was concentrated with flavour. Mmmm.

For the mains, we chose:

Fried Tiger Prawns with Garlic and Black Pepper - the prawns were the largest I have ever seen, weighing in at a whopping 200g each! ...and oh, it was so good! The flesh was firm and sweet, and went perfectly with the fried garlic and black pepper. We kept piling the garlic on the prawns with each bite (and sometimes just eating the garlic by itself!). The prawns were served with a chilli sauce, but we didn't need it.

Raw Oyster served with lime, chilli sauce, garlic and crispy shallot. Again, the oysters were huge. I've only ever had raw oyster with lemon juice, but the combination of lime, chilli sauce, raw garlic and crispy shallot seemed to work. I quite enjoyed the combination of flavours and crunch from the crispy shallot on the oyster.

Fried Mudcrab with Curry Powder. Another huge dish, as the crab was 2.2kg! The largest mudcrab I've ever seen, and even if it wasn't the best curry crab I've had, it was still great. The crab meat was lovely and sweet, and the sauce - delicious on rice..let's just say there weren't much left!

After that, the 7 of us (and one 2- year old) were extremely full. The total price came to 6,600 baht. Great value, considering the excellent seafood and the location. I'd highly recommend this restaurant when you go to Phuket. I'll certainly go back on my next visit.

Booking is highly recommended. The restaurant also has a free shuttle service from Laguna area.

Lotus Restaurant.
Open daily from 11:00am-11:30pm
31/13 Moo 4 Cherngtalay
Thalang, Phuket, Thailand
Tel: 081 797 3110, 076-362625-6
(On-line reservation also available)

Other restaurant we enjoyed in Phuket:

Pah Yaah Thai Restaurant

This restaurant commands a great view from a cliff overlooking the ocean and the famous Patong Beach. It's in a more convenient location (closer to town) than Lotus.

There is a variety of food - Thai, seafood, as well as burgers (which looked rather sad in the display fridge - but I'm sure it'll look and taste better when made fresh to order). The Thai food is great there, and not expensive, pricing at a similar level to Lotus.

Our favourites were the Musaman Curry, the huge (and very tender) satays and steamed oysters. The Pad Kee Mao (Stir fried "drunken noodles" with mushroom) was also great.

We had Beef Salad at both Lotus and Pah Yaah, and found that the Lotus' beef were more tender and had a smoky flavour, while Pah Yaah's had the tougher beef but a tastier, more strongly flavoured (and spicier!) salad.

The total for the 7 of us (and one 2 year-old) came to about 2500 baht (no seafood).

Pan Yaah Thai Restaurant
249 Prabaramee Rd.
Patong, Phuket 83150
Tel: 076 290450-1
1.5km from Patong Novotel on Beach Rd to Kamala

NC Bakery and Food

This restaurant was recommended by our driver. On first look, the food, displayed buffet style, didn't look too appetising, however, we were also able to order a-la-carte and decided to give the restaurant a go, and we were glad we did!

NC serves local Phuket / Southern Thai food. They serve excellent "Knom Jean", a rice noodle and curry dish, served with a large basket of fresh vegies - yes, a basket! Other dishes we enjoyed were - Phuket style hokkien noodles and Pineapple fried rice (very good with lots of curry powder). The "Khao Yum" - a sort of southern style rice and vegie salad was also good, but dressing a little too sweet. The dressing is served on the side, so you can always put less of it. Their "Hor Mok", I was told, was also excellent (unfortunately I missed out on it!!).

This turned out to be our cheapest meal, costing only around 500 baht for 7 people and the 2 year old.

We enjoyed it so much we went back the next day for breakfast! Note- this is a Thai breakfast - steamed buns, Khao Yum, Knom Jean, etc. They can also make fried eggs and toast on request.

NC Bakery & Food
183/6 Phangna Rd
Talad Yai, Muang, Phuket
076 224 668

Do you have a favourite restaurant in Phuket? Please share with us the restaurants you enjoy (or the ones we should avoid!).

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Monday 19 October 2009

Yod Sap Restaurant

Having been eating in "finer dining" restaurants, we thought it would be good to take a break and have some simpler food. So there we were, at a local Thai restaurant where local families have their dinners.

Right this moment, a lot of you might as "Yod Sap"? What on earth... ? I guess a loose translation of "Yod Sap" would be "Extremely spicy"! There are lots of restaurants around here with similar names, by the way. One occassion, we went to another restaurant with "sap" in its name, and, boy, our tongues were on fire!

So this time, I was not the only one in the group who wondered if Yod Sap Restaurant would live up to it's name...and one of the dishes we ordered...the Gaeng Pa (Jungle curry) did. Gaeng Pa is a curry with lots of vegies and herbs like galangal, basil, lemongrass, krachai roots, chillis (of course!) but no coconut milk. It was so spicy I could only have a bit of the vegie with heaps of rice, and even then I had a stomach I guess this is not something I would recommend, unless you're Thai (may be from Issan???) and really can eat such spicy food!!

Fortunately, the other dishes we ordered were OK.

Deep-fried Naem Pork Ribs. These are pork preserved with garlic, which, apparently gives the dish a sour flavour. Often, naem is eaten uncooked, which I am not game to have, but deep-fried naem is so yummy it's one of my favourite Northen Thai dishes....and of course, you should have it with beer! : )

Another pretty good dish to have here is the Hor Mok Talay. Translations for this dish varies from "Thai Curry Terrine" to "Steamed seafood souffle" to "Curry Seafood Moose". I would describe it as a semi-solid steamed curry. For Malaysian readers, it's similar to "otak otak". Yod Sap's Hor Mok Talay was cooked in aluminium foil, and was filled with seafood and lots of fish balls. It tasted great though, particularly since it wasn't sweet like many other Thai restaurants.

Pad Pak Ruam (Stir-fried mixed vegetables) - a pretty standard Thai restaurant dish. All I can say is that the vegetables were lovely - fresh and crunchy, healthy and delicious!

Our meal came to around 380 baht for 3 people.

Yod Sap Restaurant
Doi Saket Road
(In a little lane just before PTT service station just after the Outer Ring Rd)
Tel: 053 399 300

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Saturday 3 October 2009

Buonissimo Italian Restaurant (Closed)

There seem to be no lack of good Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai I have previously reviewed Arcobaleno, today we visit Buonissimo, a restaurant with a deli and wine shop attached on the bank of the Ping River.

Sit back and relax and enjoy the views of the Ping River as you dine. You can choose to sit out in the fresh air (if it's not too hot!) or in air-conditioned comfort.

The menu is huge with a dizzying array of dishes, written in Italian, English and Thai. We were feeling a bit like, "We have no idea what to order!!" - well, it was a Friday evening after work and we were all pretty tired! After several moments of deliberation, we decided to have:

Verdure alla griglia in Olio Extra Vergine de Oliva (no wonder we had a bit of a headache!). Translation: Cold Grilled Vegetables with Garlic and Extra Virgin Olive Oil. These turned out to be grilled thin slices of eggplants, zucchini and capsicum, topped with fresh garlic and drizzled with olive oil. It was excellent! Very healthy and light, yet delicious. The sliced fresh garlic gave the vegies a slightly spicy flavour. 99 baht.

Fetta Salad - A dressing-less salad of fetta cheese, olives, tomatoes and lettuce. Although it's dressing-less, you are given bottles of olive oil and balsamic vinegar (and a huge pepper mill), so you can add as much or little as you like. A pretty good and healthy salad, and quite a decent serving too. 119 baht.

Penne alla Siciliana Pasta (Penne pasta with eggplant, olives, capers, garlic, cherry tomatoes and oregano). A nice tomato based pasta but I find it too salty for me. Just as well we were sharing. I found the penne quite firm, at least firmer than what I'm used to with other restaurants. An Italian friend once commented that most restaurants cook their pasta too soft, so may be Bounissimo's pasta was actually cooked to perfection - al dente. 179 baht.

Frutti di Mare (Seafood Pizza) - A very nice pizza (but again, slightly too salty for me) with plenty of prawns, calamari, mussels and even a few scallops. Nice non-oily thin crust. 190 baht

To finish of the meal, we had a homemade tiramisu, it was quite a large slice and tasted great. Only 79 baht. The lovely raspberry sorbet was also delicious. 40 baht.

Other things of note :

The bread basket, and in that, cheese and onion focaccia (yum!). You can buy this and other things in the deli in front of the restaurant.

There is also a huge selection of wine, and a wine shop in front of the store as well.

Total price - 760 baht for 4 people.

Buonissimo Italian Restaurant, Deli & Wine Shop.
425 Chareonraj Rd, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 266 431-2

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Monday 28 September 2009

Mungkorn Fah (มังกรฟ้า / 天龙饭店)

Mungkorn Fah (English translation - Sky Dragon) is an unassuming Chinese Restaurant situated at the PTT Petrol Station opposite Chiang Mai's Immigration office & not far from the airport. The decor is quite dated and simple, but clean. There's nothing much to distract (other than perhaps a large TV showing Korean drama series) from the excellent food.

In fact, I'd say Mungkorn Fah is now one of our favourite Chinese Restaurants in Chiang Mai. We do very much prefer it to the very much more famous Jia Tong Heng - nice food but quite bland for our taste.

OK, back to Mungkorn Fah. Actually, the first thing of note was the rice! I know, we are in Thailand, and rice is served everywhere, and it's not usually something I comment on, but not all rice are created equal. Mungkorn Fah's rice was so lovely and fluffy, and was cooked to perfection, and went so well with all the sauces from the dishes we ordered...

Bitter Melon stir-fried with garlic. I know bitter melon isn't everyone's cup of tea, but I love bitter melon. : ) This dish is rather different, because most restaurants here have dishes like Bitter Melon stir-fried with eggs, but not the garlic. I've only had this in China. This dish was really nice, although the servings was perhaps a bit small. I think I enjoyed the sauce on rice most!

Now if we thought the bitter melon sauce was nice, it was nothing compared to the "Tao Hoo Song Kreung" - normally equates to fried Tofu stir-fried with "everything" eg. minced pork, garlic and various vegies. Mungkorn Fah's Tao Hoo Song Kreung came out piping hot, but to our initial disappointment, it looked rather plain. I couldn't see the usual vegies in sight. Just plain fried-tofu in a brown looking sauce that seemed to contain a bit of minced pork and tiny (and I mean tiny) pieces of mushrooms. We were a bit unsure about this whopping 200 baht for-just-tofu dish until we tasted it. The tofu was silky smooth, and the sauce was marvelous. I can't even begin to describe the flavour, but suspect it has something like Scallop sauce in it. When I asked the waitress, she doesn't seem to know either. Suffice to say, there was not one drop of the sauce left!

The third dish was Pla Chon (Serpent head fish) steamed with Dul See (fermented black beans). It was an unusual dish for me as I've never had steamed fish cooked this way before, and it was lovely. The salty flavour of the fermented black beans complemented well with the soft, fluffy textured Pla Chon. The great thing too, about this sauce is that it's not too salty. The flavour was just right, and yes, a fair bit of it went on our rice, but no, we didn't have that much of the sauce this time. We were getting full (and running out of rice!).

Total price (including Chinese Tea) - 570 baht for four.

Mungkorn Fah Chinese Restaurant
PTT Service (Petrol) Station
Opposite Chiang Mai Immigration Office
Airport Road, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 201614, 086 1174473
Opens everyday: 5pm-10pm

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Friday 18 September 2009

Nasi Jumpru

It's in a stylish looking modern Thai wooden teak house, the decor is reminiscent of an English country garden, the name is of Indonesian origin. Sounds a bit like a big confusion, yet somehow it works.

There is of course, nothing confusing about Nasi Jumpru's Thai-fusion food. Very creative mix of ingredients and styles, very beautifully presented, very delicious!

We ordered an Eggplant salad - sounds pretty simple, right? This is what came out of the kitchen.

Amongst the Oohs and Ahs of fellow diners appreciating the "art work", there was another surprise in the dish. This eggplant had this lovely smoky flavour, served with shallots, boiled egg, carrot and chilli. I have have never tasted other eggplant dishes like it. Gorgeous!

The Duck with Tamarind Sauce was another interesting dish. Roast duck with just a slight layer of fat under skin went really well with the tangy tamarind sauce, topped with fried shallots, and intriguingly, mashed pumpkin. The mashed pumpkin tasted a bit like, I would say, warm Vanilla-Pumpkin Ice-cream (if one exists) - slightly sweet and creamy. I'm not sure if I would have liked the mashed pumpkin by itself, but it seemed to work in the dish, and I would say I really enjoyed this duck!

Here is another gorgeous dish - in looks and taste. It was one of the "Specials" for the day - the Snow Pea Shoot Salad, Tai Yai style. "Tai Yai" are an ethnic group from the Shan State (now a part of Burma). The snow pea shoots gave the salad an earthy, nutty taste. There was a hint of chilli, and there were also tomatoes, shallots, boiled eggs, Northern pickled pork and sesame seeds. Yum!

The other "special" was a type of curry called "Gaeng Kuo Hoi Khom" - it's like red curry with a kind of freshwater snail. I like to think of it as shell fish! We were expecting something extraordinary (having seen the other dishes), but it looked rather...normal. The probably doesn't sound too appetising, but the curry was quite good and the little snails were crunchy. ; )

We of course couldn't leave without trying the dessert. Nasi Jumpru offers some of the regular Thai desserts (nothing sounding very exciting), but we tried homemade Custard apple ice-cream and Sticky Rice Ice Cream. Compared to the presentation of the other dishes, the ice-cream came out rather plain - just a scoop of ice-cream in each bowl. However, both types were lovely.

The cost of dinner for 4 people was 685 baht.

Nasi Jumpru
Chiang Mai-Mae Jo Road
Take the second U turn on Mae Jo Rd from the Meechok Plaza (Rimping Supermarket) Intersection
Ph: 053 345 362

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Friday 11 September 2009

No Name Restaurant, Chiang Rai

Well, it's actually not called "No Name", but they don't actually have a name. It's just called "Food and Coffee House", or something to that effect. It's a quaint little restaurant amongst rice fields, not too far from the beautiful Wat Rong Khun (also known as the "White Temple"). The only sign we saw was that of "Doi Chang Coffee".

What's so great about this place? First of all, the restaurant is very clean, and comfortable. The owners are very welcoming (and speak great English!). The meals are simple and healthy, but also taste great. Don't expect the food to arrive quickly though, because the vegies are freshly picked straight from the restaurant's organic garden before cooking.

While we were waiting, we were served an amazing looking refreshing blue coloured drink. No, it was non-alcoholic! It was actually "Anchan flower drink" - a drink made from anchan (blue pea flowers). Anchan is also the source of natural colouring for blue coloured rice that you may see here in Thailand. The other great thing about this drink is that the restaurant didn't add sugar to it (like most restaurants would).

We ordered a couple of plates of vegetables and steamed fish (which was screaming out to us, "Eat me!"). These were served with a delicious freshly made homemade chilli dip. We also had "Lemon Pork". The pork was cooked in a tangy lime dressing, which was so nice we couldn't help pouring the dressing all over our rice.

Overall, it was a lovely and light meal. The bill for the four of us came to 290 baht- fantastic value!

"Food and Coffee House"
Hwy 1122
From Wat Rong Khun, drive down until you reach Hwy 1122 and turn left.
The restaurant will be about 50-100 m on your right.
Ph:089 9517964

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Monday 31 August 2009


The occasion was one of our friends got a 50% discount card for dining outlets at the gorgeous Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi, one of the most beautiful (and most expensive, perhaps), resorts in town. An opportunity not to be missed. : )

So there we were, enjoying the luxurious ambiance, impeccable service and some wonderful food. Akaligo happens to serve Mediterranean cuisine, which sounds rather exotic, doesn't it? These are actually foods from countries like Greece, Italy, France, and also includes places like Turkey, Israel, Egypt and Morocco.

Now, I don't know if all these countries' cuisines are represented on the Akaligo menu, but there were plenty of Italian, at least in terms of pasta...and the pasta we had were wonderful, some of the nicest I've had. The pastas themselves were homemade, and the the sauces were concentrated with flavour. I chose Fetuccini Marinara (above photo). Although I found the dish quite salty, it was still very delicious.

I think I'm getting ahead of myself here though, because I just realised I haven't mentioned our entree/starters yet. We decided to order two salads to share.

Ceasar Salad is always a safe choice, not that I was worried! The dressing was lovely, and there were plenty of anchovies and Parmasan cheese.

The interesting one, though was the Watermelon Salad (above). Yes, the Watermelon Salad - consisting of watermelon, olives and ricotta cheese, served with olive oil. It was a mixture of sweet, slightly tangy and salty tastes, and turned out to be quite nice and very refreshing. We were in air-conditioning during our dinner, but I think it will make a perfect light lunch on a hot summer's day.

The bill turned out to be 2200 baht for 6 people, no alcohol, which worked out to be approx. 360 baht per person, including the 50% discount.

When you go to Akaligo Restaurant, a buggy will pick you up from the main gate of the resort and take you back down again. Since there were six of us, I was lucky enough to have the back seat of the buggy. The view I saw coming back down to the car park was something like this: (photo courtesy of Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi). If you click on the photo you'll be able to see the full size. The actual view I saw of the main lobby lit up against the dark sky was even more spectacular.

Some of the restaurant's specialty dishes are: Beef carpaccio, Lobster bisque, Veal osso bucco and Potato gnocchi.

Akaligo Restaurant
Mandarin Oriental Dhara Dhevi
Chiang Mai-San kampaeng Rd
Tel: 053 888 888

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Saturday 22 August 2009

Inthanon Restaurant

There are certainly a lot of near-waterfall "street eat" experiences at Doi Inthanon National Park. At Mae Klang Waterfall, for example, you can buy sticky rice, grilled chicken and papaya salad to eat at "shacks" by the water. It's quite a fun (and cheap) experience!

There's also a finer dining option further up Thailand's tallest mountain at the Inthanon Royal Project Agricultural Station - the Inthanon Restaurant. Dine in the cool and fresh mountain air on a deck overlooking great views.

Their specialties are the trouts and vegies (both grown and raised, or rather, raised and grown at the Royal Project by local hill-tribes). As you can imagine, the vegetables are super fresh, and straight from the source (so, cheap as well!). For example, a salad, served with a creamy dressing will set you back 50 baht.

This huge plate of Mixed Vegie Tempura was also 50 baht. It was quite nicely made, the vegie not oily and stayed crispy. Served with plum sauce.

We also had this really tasty pork ribs, stewed "Kao Ka Moo" (Pork leg & Rice) style with herbs like five spices, coriander, garlic and soy sauces. These pork ribs are the healthier version, with a lot less fat! It was wonderfully delicious and the meat was falling of the bones. I think it would have been perfect if the ribs were stewed for a bit longer though, making it more tender.
The pork ribs were served with deep fried Chinese bun - mantou, which did a great job soaking up the sauce/gravy concentrated with flavours...mmm...I can still taste it now. The serving was quite large too. I would highly recommend this dish if you go to Inthanon Restaurant. 100 baht.

Now for the house specialty - rainbow trouts, farmed in the fresh waters of Doi Inthanon. You have a choice of: Deep-fried trout with garlic ; Fried with herbs; Fried with butter; Steamed with Soy-sauce. All 320 baht for half a trout. We went for the Deep-fried trout with garlic. It came out aromatic with plenty of crispy fried garlic on top, may be even enough to ward off the H1N1 virus? The trout itself was firm yet tender. It went really well with the chilli sauce that came with it. Recommended for the garlic lover! : )

It's also worth trying the fresh juices (30 baht). At the time, they had passionfruit juice and carrot juice. It took a while to come though, and came even later than the fish, which made us suspect that they ran out of fruits and had to go pick the passionfruit from the trees (???).

Anyway, if you're out Doi Inthanon way, I'd highly recommend visiting Inthanon Restaurant. Great food, great view and great prices! As a bonus, you'll also be able to stroll the gardens of the Inthanon Royal Project Research Station, and that of the nearby Siriphum Waterfalls.

Some info about Doi Inthanon & Royal Project
  • Doi Inthanon is Thailand's tallest mountain. ("Doi" means "Mountain")
  • The entrance fee to the national park is 100 baht for foreigners (adults), 50 baht for kids and 30 baht for cars & vans.
  • The weather is cool all year round.
  • Royal Project is initiated around 1979 by the King of Thailand to try to improve living standards of hill tribes, and as a part of crop-substitution program. The hill-tribes at the time were reliant on growing opium (especially near the Golden Triangle area).
  • The Entrance fee to the Royal Agricultural Station is 20 baht per person.
Doi Inthanon Restaurant
Inthanon Royal Project Agricultural Station
Doi Inthanon

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