Thursday 8 January 2015

Samsen Villa - Restaurant by the Ping River

Happy New Year to all my dear readers! Hope this year will be filled with happiness and of course, delicious food!

First meal out of 2015? It was a New Year Day dinner with family. We wanted to try Samsen Villa, a restaurant by the Ping River that has been around for a long time.

The ambience is simply lovely. Arriving at dusk on a cool "winter's" evening, we got a table by the river side. Samsen Villa was quickly filling up with local diners as well as tourists. There's a large outdoor alfresco dining section, as well as indoor air-conditioned room.

The menu is extensive with a lot of Thai and Western dishes.

The waiter recommended the Royal Thai Style Pork Satay, which I thought was excellent. What is the difference between the "royal" satay and "regular" satay? According to the menu, the satay is made using an "ancient royal recipe" from 1978 (which I suppose isn't really that old!). In any case, the satay was well marinated and fragrant with lemongrass and coconut. The flavour was lovely too - rich and rounded. 120 bath (regular size - 7 satays).

Having ordered a "royal" dish, we went on to order another recommended dish - the Royal Thai Crispy Fried Rice Noodle with Signature Sauce - in Thai - Mee Grob. Mee Grob is usually served as a snack or appetiser, and has a sweet, sour and crunchy flavour with a hint of citrus, and is topped with garlic and bean sprouts . Samsen Villa's Royal Mee Grob was pleasant, but a little disappointing  (after the excellent Royal Satays) as I found the noodles a bit too dry. I like my mee grobs slightly sticky and a bit gooey from the sauce. 120 baht.

A Thai meal isn't complete with out a spicy salad, or "yum". This time we ordered "Yum Tuo Pu", or in English - Spicy Salad of Angle Beans with Pork and Prawns. "Yum Tuo Pu" is a lovely, light and refreshing salad made from angle beans (also called wing beans), fried onion and garlic, roasted chilli paste, coconut milk, palm sugar, lime and fish sauce. 140 baht.

The Steamed Whole Sneakhead Fish with Sauce was quite good. The sneakhead is steamed with various herbs and vegetables, and served in a hot "plate" with soup. The fish was nice and fresh. I thought the soup was a bit on the sweet side though. 280 baht.

.. And by the way, for your information, what Samsen Villa is famous for is actually their "jelly" beer. Ice cold beer served in frozen mugs, which I also enjoyed.

The Verdict

I really enjoyed the food and ambience at Samsen Villa. I thought most of the dishes tried that evening were quite good, and also quite good value considering the location and quality. The service was fine.

I didn't try the Western dishes. They do have steaks, ribs and lamb.

I'd love to come back to try other Thai dishes though. Somehow, I don't really feel like eating Western dishes here - may be because the Thai menu has such a variety and so many other dishes that I'd like to try, and that there are many excellent Western restaurants in Chiang Mai.

Interestingly, there are quite a lot of negative reviews about Samsen Villa, especially on Trip Advisor. Fortunately I had a pretty good experience. If you've been there, please let us know what you think!

Samsen Villa
201 Rimping Condominium
Charoen-raj Rd
T. Watgate, A. Muang
Chiang Mai
Tel: 053 306 588
Opens: 11am-11pm

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