Chanchao's Chiang Mai Food Review
Reviews of restaurants and Thai food stalls in Chiang Mai, Thailand
By: Chanchao in Chiang Mai

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Thursday, 25-Mar-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
German food without the lederhosen

Nobody Restaurant
Crispy pork leg dishes that look like they mean business.. :)
Trout w. herbs and vegetables and mild horseradish sauce
View all 7 photos...
When you say German food in Chiang Mai, inevitably two places spring to mind, right next to each other at the Night Bazar in the soi in front of McDonalds: The Hofbrauhaus and Haus Muenchen. The former is the bigger and better of the two, and serves both decent German fare as well as hideous 'hoompa' music. There is however one thing above all that managed to keep me out of there for close to 8 years: The Thai woman staff outside the place, wearing a Bavarian hunters hat and lederhosen.... I am the last person to get fussy about what is proper attire for Thai women, but when I see a lass dressed in said fashion, it makes me itch all over. Which is a shame, because the restaurant isn't half bad and given the ultra-touristy locale, perhaps not even as expensive as you would expect.

Still I don't like the touristyness of the area all that much, which is why I think this out of the way place deserves a plug. It's actually seriously out of the way, no regular tourist is going to just walk past this one: Nobody Restaurant. It's run by a German chef and his Thai wife. I lost track of this place for a while after they moved from their old, and equally 'nowhere' location, behind Payom market off Suthep road.

I'm very happy to have found it again after someone told me on the http://thaivisa.com forum. I like it for it's unpretentiousness and large portions of good old honest German fare. Also 3 kinds of draft beer on tap (!) that are worth checking out. Brand is 'Schwarzer Drachen (Black Dragon)'. Never seen it anywhere except here. Pricing is not ultra cheap, but definitely good value for money. Most main courses cost between 200 and 300 baht.

Directions: When driving on the Superhighway ring road from the Khuang Singh intersection with the Mae Rim road towards the Rincome Intersection with Huay Kaew, you will pass the traffic lights at the U-turn intersection at Wat Jet Yod. Continue straight and then turn left into the soi right after a the big open-air Moo Kata grill restaurant. This is soi Tawan. You will find Nobody restaurant on the right hand side.


Wednesday, 24-Mar-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Location, location.. location?

Ban Khanom Jeen Restaurant
Serve yourself, buffet style
Khanom Jeen
Some commonly accepted 'rules of business' seem to work not quite in the same way in Thailand as they do elsewhere. A common example is law of supply & demand, which you will often find applied in reverse: when business is slower, prices must rise to make ensure that revenue remains the same. Makes sense doesn't it? Or? Here we have another example: the importance of "location" for a restaurant. Is this really as important in Thailand as it is perceived elsewhere? You would doubt it looking at this long running and very popular lunch-time buffet restaurant. It's WAY down a small soi off the Superhighway, and then WAY inside a small housing compound. If you haven't been told where it is then you will NOT run into this one by accident. When it comes to restaurants, 'word of mouth' takes great precedence over location. Perhaps Thais even find enjoyment in finding and telling people about a great little place they found somewhere, or that someone else told them about? I definitely get enjoyment out of it, or I wouldn't be posting all these reviews here on this page..

Back to the food at hand today: Khanom Jeen. Often translated as Chinese Noodle or even Thai Spaghetti! Khanom Jeen you find in every region of the country, it's as popular in the North, North East or South. What differs though are the sauces/curries that are served with it, these vary quite a bit. Some are definitely VERY spicy, others fairly mild, like the common green curry. It's also a very inexpensive dish. Perhaps less so in this distinctly middle-class buffet restaurant, but you also find khanom jeen at little stalls around markets at any time of the day and night. In Chiang Mai, if you ever find yourself in town between midnight and 3am or so, check out the low tables near Kad Luang, the Big Market. Probably the cheapest place for khanom jeen.

At Ban Khanom Jeen (House of Thai Spaghetti) they serve khanom jeen 'buffet style', you can choose from any of the curries/sauces and there's a big supply of fresh herbs and vegetables add as well. Plus they serve a nice little side dish of crispy fried vegetables, leafs and herbs, more or less tempura style. You pay per bunch of noodles you use. So going for lots of curry & veggies with minimal noodles helps to reduce cost. I think they charge 10 baht per bunch of noodles. I had 4, so the bill came to 50 baht including a bottle of drinking water and the crispy vegetables side dish. With two people sharing you will likely pay a bit less per person, figure about 40 baht.

Now then.. how to get there. The place is in a sub-soi of a soi of the Superhighway. When driving on the Superhighway, coming from the Rincome intersection you will pass Wat Jed Yod Temple (worth a visit, seems they're excavating ruins of older structures there at the moment). Turn left into the first proper soi after the temple, this is Soi Putharam, though this is not indicated anywhere. Then Ban Khanom Jeen is in Putharam Soi 4, which is on the right hand side, about 1 kilometer or so from the Superhighway. The sign Putharam Soi 4 is in Thai only, even the number 4 uses the Thai numeral "รด". If all this sounds too complicated then you have a great excuse to be out in town at 3am, sampling the khanom jeen at the big Kad Luang market! 0)


Tuesday, 23-Mar-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Khao Man Kai (Rice with Steamed Chicken)

Khao Man Kai Nantharam
Rip chickens faster than you can say "Justin Timberlake sucks"
Khao Man Kai and Moo Sate pork skewers
View all 4 photos...
Khao Man Kai, steamed chicken with rice cooked in chicken broth, is probably not the most exciting of dishes as far as Thai food goes. It's more like a staple lunch-dish, much like a ham sandwich would be in the West. Still with the right ham and the right bread, some ham sandwiches are distinctly better done than others. It's kind of the same with khao man kai. Rice is fried first in chicken fat and garlic, then broth is added for cooking the rice. This results in a more fragrant and tasty rice than just plan boiled rice. Also the ingredients for the spicy brown sauce that's served with it can set a place apart. Chopped chillies and ginger can be added to this sauce to taste.

One of the most famous and longest running places for khao man kai is Nantharam, named after the nearby temple of the same name. It's been so succesful that several branches opened at other places in town, still called Khao Man Kai Nantharam, even though they're nowhere near the temple from which they derive their name. One of the bigger branches is at Sri Mangalachan Road, which is the road that connects Suthep Road with Huay Kaew road, parallel to Nimmanhaemin Rd. It's the road you take to reach the back-entrance of Central / Kad Suan Kaew department store. Another very famous place for Khao Man Kai is Charoen Kiat, located on Inthawarorot road next to the Three Kings Monument, where there are many restaurants and stalls open for lunch time.

The place pictured here however is the original, in a soi off Wualai Road. When coming from Thapae Gate driving on Wualai Road, take a left just before Wualai Road intersects with Thippanet Road and continues on to the Airport Plaza intersection. Follow this soi and you will find Nantharam restaurant on the left side of the road.

Besides khao man kai, the place also sells other basic meat-over-rice dishes such as khao moo krob (crispy fried pork). It's possible that this is a recent development resulting from the bird flue problem in early 2004. In any case a combination of steamed chicken AND crispy pork over rice is a good idea too. They also sell moo sate, marinated pork skewers with a peanut sate sauce that is pretty nice as well. Chicken over rice goes for 20 baht a plate, or order a small, medium or large sized plate of chicken for 30, 40 and 50 baht respectively. Rice is 5 baht per serving, water is served free of charge.


Monday, 22-Mar-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Banana Fritters

No-name but long running fried banana shop. Cheerful staff too.
10 baht gets you a lot more than is healthy for you.
Quicky review today about fried bananas. You can find stalls selling this all over town. The one I highlight is near Sanpakhoi market, the market just South of Charoen Muang road. This little shop/stall is just North from the market on the same soi that passes the market.

Aside from the usual fried bananas and fried sweet-potato, they also do 'Khao Mao', which is fried heaven with coconut in batter. Sadly they were out of it today, which, looking at my waistline, is just as well.


Sunday, 21-Mar-2004 00:00 Email | Share | | Bookmark
Vegetarian Food

Mata Restaurant
The Thai word 'Jay'. Learn to recognize it!
Interesting combo tray/plate for one..
View all 6 photos...
The place pictured is now closed (made way for some more development), though of course there are many very similar places around Chiang Mai, serving Buddhist-Vegan food.

Vegetarians who visit Thailand on holiday seem to be either raving about the veggie food, or seriously struggling to find something. For some reason there doesn't seem to be a lot of middle ground. The ravers are correct of course, Thai vegetarian food is excellent and very varied. Yet for some reason it takes people a while to recognize the vegetarian places and to get the hang of ordering dishes 'sans-meat' at regular restaurants and food-stalls.

Most Thai vegetarian food is actually Buddhist-vegan food, called "Jay" food in Thai. This is a useful word to learn if you're vegetarian. Jay food is more strict that vegetarian, it doesn't allow for ANY animal produce (dairy, etc.) and even doesn't allow things like garlic or onions! Does it still taste good then you may wonder: hell yea!

Almost any town of some size will have one or more Jay restaurants, learn to recognize the Thai or Chinese word for 'Jay' (see middle picture). Chiang Mai has quite a few of course, today I highlight Mata Restaurant. It is close to Central Department store. When you get to the North Western city corner (Jaeng Hua Rin) you would turn left to go to Central. Instead you continue straight on and find this place on the right hand side. Try some of the meat-like substitutes made from mushrooms and other ingredients. The 'duck' is excellent. Mata is not necessarily better than other places, but it's a bit bigger and has a little garden with a fountain. It also sells vegetarian snacks and groceries. 2 dishes 'over rice' will set you back 20 baht, or order a 'set' as pictured for 35.

Another place worth mentioning that is 'regular' vegetarian is Khun Churn. They do an all-you-can-eat lunch buffet for 59 baht, AND it's open in the evening in really nice semi-outdoors restaurant setting. Khun Churn Restaurant relocated last year to Nimmanhaemin soi 5 (or 7?), down from soi 11 which still shows on many maps.


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