Friday 23 December 2011

Mood Mellow - French cake shop (Now closed) current favourite cake shop in Chiang Mai, Mood Mellow. Recently moved from their previous location on Sirimankarajan Road to the hip Nimmanhaemin area,  Mood Mellow's French style cakes are not just simply beautiful ( both in look and taste! ), the shop itself is pretty funky too!


This time I had bambini (the white one in the photo below), and the lime tart.

Bambini is a cheesecake - and is so light and fluffy, only slightly sweet, and covered in white chocolate shavings and topped with a single gooseberry -  simply divine.

The lime tart is delicious too. Lovely and tangy, with nice and buttery base. Very nice indeed. 


Other cakes to try: Taro Cake - melt in your mouth softness with gorgeous purple colour! The chocolate cake is also great - full of chocolaty goodness! Mmm. I think I'll have to take another trip back to Mood Mellow soon! 

...Oh, don't forget to check out the toilet!

Mood Mellow
Soi 3, Nimmanhaemin Road.

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Sunday 18 December 2011

Smily Kitchen - home style Japanese cafe

Very relaxing and comfortable. Simple, unpretentious, great food. This is how I would describe this Japanese Cafe. It's one of those places where you can just hang out with friends and enjoy authentic Japanese food. Moreover, whenever I am there, there is always a steady stream of Japanese expats going in and out, and that's always a good sign! 

The service is warm and friendly. It seems like there is only one waitress, so be patient!

The menu is huge. Most of these are sets which comprise of miso soup, seaweed salad, a bowl of rice and your main dish. Prices are pretty good too, and starts from around 110 baht. I really enjoy the egg plants and pork with miso sauce. The rice with beef topping is also very nice (135 baht).

Other dishes include various types of noodles. The waitress recommended the Noodles with Vegetables and Chicken in Sesame and Vinegar Sauce, and it turned out to be lovely. Light, refreshing, fragrant and tangy. Perfect for a hot day. 130 baht.

I've already been back to Smily Kitchen a few times since a friend introduced me to it a couple of weeks ago. There are so many dishes I'd like to go back to try. I'd say it's my current favourite Japanese restaurant at the moment! 

The Verdict:
Friendly, comfortable, unpretentious restaurant serving great home style Japanese food. One of those places you can go very often.   

The Rating:
The food: 8/10
The ambience: 8/10
The service: 8/10 (very friendly)
Value for money: 8/10

Smily Kitchen
Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
(Closed Sundays)
Nimmanhaemin Soi 3
Tel: 087 176 7566

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Sunday 4 December 2011

Mont Blanc Sweet Cafe - Japanese Style French Cakes


I love success stories! ..And here is one starring a local young woman who followed her dreams to open a patisserie. It all started when the then 23 year old local girl, Panit Palapong, for the first time in her life, baked a cake. She simply wanted to impress her mum. Since then, Panit went on to study at a French Patisserie school in Japan and came back to Chiang Mai to open her first patisserie, Mont Blanc. It's so successful that she now has 3 branches.

Mont Blanc cakes are all French cakes and made from French recipes. The Japanese part comes from the way the cakes are Japanese style! The result is light, soft and smooth tasting cakes.


The cafe in a quiet lane off the trendy Nimmanhaemin Road. This shop is decorated in retro-modern style (I guess!), and you have a choice to enjoy your cakes in the garden, or inside in air-conditioning.

There is a HUGE variety of cakes to choose from - all beautifully decorated and delicious looking. I wanted to try everything! After some consideration, we opted for:

Chocolate Caramel Cake - smooth chocolate mousse at the bottom, followed by a layer of hazelnuts, then soft and fluffy cream. Yum!


Mango Rare Cheesecake. "Rare" cheesecakes are what the Japanese call "no-bake" cheesecakes. Lovely, light in texture and creamy. 


Souffle Cheese Vanilla. Fluffy, creamy and light cheesecake (in texture, not calories!) covered with white chocolate shavings. Very, very nice. 


Mont Blanc

Branch 1: Nimmanhaemin Road (main road, near Soi 7)
Tel: 053 210 776

Branch 2: Central Airport Plaza
3rd floor, near escalators & Robinson
Tel: 053 280 662

Branch 3: Nimmanhaemin Soi 2
Tel: 053 210 776

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Friday 25 November 2011

10 Thai dishes to try other than Pad Thai

So you've been in Chiang Mai (or Thailand) for a few days, and you've already had your fill of your favourites - Tom Yum, Green Curry Chicken & Pad Thai. Ready to try something new? Here are some delicious dishes to try:

1. Pad See Eiu 


This is one of my favourite Thai lunch time dishes (one of many, lol). Pad = stir-fried; See Eiu = Soy Sauce. Wide rice noodles are stir-fried with garlic, chinese broccoli, meat (chicken, pork, etc), egg and dark soy sauce, which gives the noodles a rich, brown colour and sweetish taste. You can add chilli,  sugar, and/or fish sauce at the table to your liking. Sometimes served with a wedge of lime as well.

2. Khao Kha Moo 


Khao = rice ;  Kha Moo = Pork leg. Khao Kha Moo = Stewed pork leg on rice. Pork leg is boiled with sweet soy sauce, and various herbs and spices such as cinnamon, coriander seeds and star anise. The result is delicious, deeply flavoured, tender pork. Served on rice with gravy, chinese kale (or pickled vegies) and boiled eggs (optional).

3. Gai Yang  


Gai Yang = Grilled chicken. The can be found everywhere and lots of street stalls sell it. Usually eaten with sticky rice and Som tum (see below).

4. Som tum 

Som Tum (Papaya Salad) 
Som tum, or papaya salad. Very refreshing & tasty salad. Papaya is pounded together with palm sugar, fish sauce, lime juice and chillis. Som tum is often eating with grilled chicken / pork, and is a good accompaniment for heavier and richer dishes.

5. Lad Na 

This is a noodle dish where noodles are pan fried first then poured over with a thick gravy made by simmering meat (pork, chicken, beef, seafood...) with chinese kale, garlic, pepper, soy bean paste, and sauces like oyster sauce, soy sauce. I like to add a bit of vinegar and chilli sauce (can be found on your table) to add a bit of kick. Look for vendors who make lad na fresh (not vendors who use pre-made gravy - not as nice!).

6. Khao Moo Dang 

Khao = Rice; Moo Dang = Red BBQ pork. Rice is served with sliced BBQ pork, and covered with sauce / gravy.

7. Khao Mun Gai 

"Kao Mun Gai"  

 Mun = fat; Gai = Chicken. Khao Mun Gai rice is cooked in chicken broth, resulting in delicious and fragrant rice, especially when served steaming hot. Chicken slices are then placed on the rice, and garnished with a couple of sprigs of coriander & some cucumber. Served with soy bean sauce (can be spicy).

8. Pad Krapraw


Krapraw = basil. So, this is stir-fried meat (usually minced chicken or pork) with basil, garlic, chillies, fish sauce and vegies. Very tasty! I love mine with a fried egg (runny).

9. Khao Soi (Northern specialty) 


These are noodles in a rich curry broth, topped with crispy noodles. You'll also get a plate of picked vegies and shallots to add to your noodles. You can usually choose between beef, chicken, or tender pork ribs. Don't miss it when you come to Chiang Mai!

10. Sai Ua - Spicy Chiang Mai Sausage (Northern specialty)


These are Northern Thai pork sausages filled with herbs and spices, grilled over charcoal. You can find these in any market in Chiang Mai. Suggestion: go on a sausage mission to find your favourite Sai Ua!
Sai Uas are usually eaten with sticky rice, green chilli dip, and pork crackling. are 10 dishes to try when you come to Chiang Mai (or Thailand). Do you have any suggestions? What are your favourite Thai dishes?

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Sunday 20 November 2011

Cafe Compassion - Vegetarian Cafe (Now closed)


What really caught my attention when I first read about Cafe Compassion is the name. A quick search on the net led me to their rather nice website that explains all about the philosophy behind this little cafe, and I must say, I'm impressed with the efforts being taken to be compassionate towards our planet, our community, and us patrons by providing us with healthy, great tasting food! It also made me feel good eating here - at least one choice I made today isn't so destructive to our world, even if I have to drive to the cafe!

Cafe Compassion itself is lovely, and is located in a quiet area, not far from the busy Nimmanhaemin Road. There's a nice little garden in front, which also doubles as Bicycle Parking. It seems the owners love bicycles and try to encourage cycling by offering free refills of water to cyclists who pass by whether they eat at the cafe or not. The open eating area is nice and cosy, with only around 8 tables.

The owners themselves work at the cafe, and we could meet Marissa, who makes a very affable hostess. The cafe serves Western style vegetarian food.

We chose two dishes to share. The food took quite a while to come out. I guess because everything is prepared fresh. However, all is forgiven when our dinner finally came!

The Gourmet Raw Lasagna not only looks fantastic, it tastes great too. It's amazing that healthy food could taste so good! Incidentally, this is a raw and vegan dish. Layers of marinated eggplants and zucchini are filled with pesto, marinara and cashew cheese. LOL I have no idea what cashew cheese is, but it looks a bit like cottage cheese in the lasagna. Served with a large side salad. Yum! 150 baht.


Dizzy Cheese Steak. Marissa tells us that this is a dish that many patrons love. It's described on the menu as: The Philly cheese steak "sibling", a white hoagie filled with leg of mushroom, green bell peppers, onion, New Zealand cheese pressed under the hot grill. I also had no idea what "cheese steak", or "hoagie" is, for that matter, but it sounded interesting. Dizzy Cheese Steak turned out to be a very delicious toasted sandwich filled with mushrooms (which looked, tasted, and even had a similar texture to beef!) and melted cheese. Wow, it was good! 135 baht.


...And for dessert, the Raw Keylime Pie, chosen, well, because I've never heard of it before! Apparently, it's an American dessert, and Cafe Compassion's raw version is made from avocado and lime in a coconut and sugar base. It turned out to be quite pleasant and refreshing. The filling has the texture of ice-cream and served quite cold (I guess it was straight from the fridge). I think it would have tasted even better if we let the pie sit for a bit before delving straight in. 115 baht.


The Verdict:
Lovely, comfortable cafe. Very friendly and relaxing ambience. Good range of interesting and fun sounding food and drinks.  It's also great that the cafe strives to be environmentally and socially responsible, which also makes me feel good to eat here and to support the cafe's endeavours. Very good food, even if they come out quite be patient! : D

The Rating:
The food: 8/10
The ambience: 8/10
The service: 7/10
Value for money: 7/10

Cafe Compassion
21 Sirimankalajan Soi 11
T. Suthep, A. Muang, Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 222 379
Opens: Tue-Sat 11:30am-10pm; Sunday 11:30am-3pm (brunch only)

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Thursday 17 November 2011

Siew Li (ซิวหลี) - Minced Pork Noodles, Taechew style

Siew Li is a rather unassuming yet atmospheric noodle shop set in an old wooden house, right on the side of the rather busy Middle Ring Road. The walls are adorned with photos of the Royal family, and the tables are made of old style sewing machines (take a look under the table when you go!). Siew Li is always busy at lunch time, but the tables are well-spaced apart, so we are always comfortable...And very noticeably, the shop is very, very clean!

It's specialty? Taechew style "ba-chor" (minced pork) noodles. Delicious egg noodles with mince pork, cha-siew pork, dumpings, tofu, served with a wedge of lime. Stir well to mix the ingredients and the special sauce before eating!

Many other dishes (all very nice) are also available as well...

Yen-ta-fo is very good here. Don't be put off by the bright red colour! This is a fairly simple dish, but packed in flavours, predominantly spicy and sour.  The pink / red colour comes from ferment red tofu.

Siew Li also makes a great rendition of Guay Jub. Instead of your regular noodles, you get rolls of wide rice noodles in a rich brown broth. Ingredients thrown in include: pork blood cube, crispy pork, half a boiled egg, and various innards such as intestines and other things. Whilst I'm not really an innards person, Guay Jub here is so nice that I ate everything to the last drop of the soup...with one exception, the pork blood cube. I did take a bite of the blood, but I still find it kind of a weird concept! Served with a chilli/vinegar mixture.

And here is a very Taechew version of siew-mai. I know because my mum is Taechew and she said it's exactly the same as what she used to have when she was a kid. The siew-mai is soft (compared to the Cantonese version) and you eat it with crispy garlic and vinegar. The green "skins" are pandan leaf "flavoured", although both colours taste the same to me!

So there we have it, Siew Li Minced Pork Noodles Shop. A very clean eatery with plenty of atmosphere and great noodles! Prices are around 30-35 baht/dish.

Location: On 1st (Middle) Ring Road, Chiang Mai. Opposite Meechok Plaza.

Also check out the very cute Mee & Mee Coffee Shop next door. The coffee is very nice there!

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Monday 31 October 2011

Ruam Jai Gai Yang - Som Tum (Grilled Chicken & Papaya Salad) รวมใจไก่ย่าง-ส้มตำ

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
Gai Yang (grilled chicken) - Som Tum (papaya salad) is one of those ubiquitous street food dishes in Thailand. Each shop has its own version of these tasty grilled chicken, usually served with just as tasty papaya salad, and sticky rice. Yum!

Driving past Ruam Jai Gai Yang-Som Tum shop one evening on the way to visit a relative at Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, a stream of people entering the restaurant catches my eyes. So how could I not have dinner there that night?

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
First thing I noticed? The aroma of chicken being grilled on Thai style BBQ right at the entrance. Fantastic! I then take a good look at this rather large and rustic restaurant, built around a tree. Most of the tables are taken up, and the food on look pretty good!

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
The menu is actually quite extensive. They have more than just chicken. There are roast pork, and also various kind of fish and soup dishes. There are various kinds of som tums available as well, including ones with brined crab, fermented fish, as well as carrot som tum and mango som tum (and various versions of these), and more! For the newbie, I suggest you stick to the regular som tum.

I ordered half a chicken (55 baht. Whole chicken: 110 baht). Very nice, tasty and tender chicken, the meat falling off the bones. Scrumptious! (Aside: I don't think I've had a bad grilled chicken in Thailand yet). Very nice with sticky rice and the accompanying chilli dip. My sticky rice came with a little added surprise of extra protein in the form of a dead ant. LOL...a dead ant is not so bad, I guess. It could have been worse!

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
And of course, I had to order the Som Tum (30 baht). Actually, the chicken came first and I kind of almost finished it before the papaya salad came out...quite a little while later. Well, I was hungry! The som tum was richly flavoured, and quite spicy (I asked for "mai ped" - not spicy). The salad was little on the sweet side for me, however, delicious, nonetheless. A little gripe:  the serving was pretty small.

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
I'd really like to go back and try the soup and the serpent head fish that look rather good here:  link

The verdict:
The restaurant seemed clean enough (until I saw the ant in my sticky rice)
The service isn't fantastic, but acceptable for this type of restaurant.
The food is great (well, from what I've had) ; prices are quite reasonable too.

Ruam Jai Gai Yang - Som Tum
Bunreungrit Road
Next to 7-11,  about 50m or so  from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital
Tel: 053 215 912
Opens: Daily 10am-10pm

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Friday 21 October 2011

Chez Marco

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
Whenever I asked my friends about a good Italian restaurant in Chiang Mai, the name Chez Marco always comes up. Actually, Chez Marco is a Mediterranean restaurant, and this is the first time I've actually visited the restaurant...and I am impressed!

Sure, it can be quite hard to find parking on Loi Kroh Road in the evenings, but we were lucky to find a spot about 100m down the road. Not having made a reservation, we were also lucky to get a table. Lucky we arrived early at 6:30pm!

I love the warm and friendly ambience of the restaurant. The staff is lovely and welcoming as well. This is also the first restaurant in Thailand I've been to where the enthusiastic waitress launches into explaining the menu and describing the dishes without being asked. I have read some reviews complaining that the tables are too close together, and that the restaurant can get quite noisy. The tables are certainly quite close together, but because there weren't that may guests there yet I didn't really have a problem with the noise.

Finally we decide on one of the specials of the day, Duck Confit, 295 baht. The duck is beautifully cooked and so tender the meat is falling off the bones. A bit on the salty side, and interestingly tastes a bit like "Ped Palo", a Thai way of cooking duck, and goes beautifully with the potatoes. The potatoes, incidentally, are amazing.

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?
The Salmon Filet with Mushroom Tarragon Cream Sauce, 290 baht, is excellent. There is nothing left on the plate (not even the sauce) by the time we finish with it!

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?

Shrimp and Squid flamed with Cognac, garlic, parsley, blacken style vegetable, 220 baht. This is quite  a nice dish, served on a hot plate and flamed as it's being served (see 1st photo), giving of a delicious aroma. The prawns are very tasty, and the squid nice and tender.

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?

Greek Salad with balsamic and olive oil dressing. 160 baht. A good salad, nice and fresh.

From Where to eat in Chiang Mai?

The total price: 1040 baht (3 people, including 1 beer). No VAT or service charge added to the bill, which is a nice surprise.

Overall, I think Chez Marco is a great restaurant & very good value.  I'll certainly be back (probably quite often) to try other dishes!

Chez Marco
15/7 Loi Kroh Road
T. Chang Klan
A. Muang, Chiang Mai. 20100
(Near Night Bazaar)
Tel: 053 207 032
Next to Raming Lodge Hotel.

Link: Interview with Marco by Dining Guide Chiang Mai

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