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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