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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foodbin said...

it seems that coagulated pig's blood is good for the lungs- those fresh salad is a joy to eat!

Unknown said...

@foodbin - pig's blood isn't my cup of tea, LOL, but I suppose it would have a lot of iron as well!

Ju (The Little Teochew) said...

The food looks mouthwatering! Thai food speaks to me ;)

Unknown said...

@ Ju - thank you! I think you'll have to come visit us soon! : )


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