In a world where we are all used to costs going upwards,
the Hean Kha Joa Restaurant is bucking the trend. After three years of
promotion of a 40 baht lunchtime buffet, they have reduced the price to 30
baht! With news like that, it was imperative that the Dining Out Team pay
this restaurant a visit.
The restaurant building is a huge wooden Thai house set
back from the soi, with a car park area in front. For those with an interest
in vintage cars, there is a maroon coloured 1936 Morris 8 tourer sitting at
the front of the parking lot. It does go and it has the original engine, the
ubiquitous Toyota has not found its way under the bonnet!
The ground floor of the building contains the restaurant,
whilst upstairs there are function areas and an extensive, multi-roomed
museum. This is a Thai establishment in more ways than one, and you do take
your shoes off and leave them on the racks outside. On entering the
restaurant you are presented with your plates, serviettes, a glass and
cutlery. The tables are arranged refectory style and you have a choice of
seating. You can either sit on the floor, Thai style, or on the right hand
side of the restaurant, the tables are built so that you can sit around them
and place your feet and lower legs in the “hole” beneath. For us, not so
loose limbed, westerners, this was the preferred option, and you do get a
cushion as well.
The buffet area has long groaning tables with more than
20 dishes on our Sunday. Although there are no name tags on any of the food
warmers, most of the dishes can be recognised, and the staff will advise you
(or any of the other diners will too) as to what is what. The staff are all
turned out in traditional Northern shirts and trousers, and we found them
The cuisine is mainly Northern and Thai, and includes
both steamed and fried rice, corn fritters, hard-boiled eggs, stir fried
pork in basil, deep fried mushrooms, steamed vegetables, stir fried
vegetables (pad pak ruem), chicken wings, larb isaan, som tum and another
called yum paduk foo, (sorry, my notes failed to tell me what was in it),
green curry chicken and “kanom jin” (Chinese noodles) to be taken with a
red chicken curry.
We tried a variety of dishes, with Miss Terry sticking to
those which were not too spicy, and I was very pleasantly surprised at how
few were really chilli hot. Of course, with the buffet style, if you find
something that really appeals, then you pop back out for more! The corn
fritters came with a lightly spicy red sauce and this was my dish of the
day, whilst Madame went more for the tom yum talay (seafood).
We were so engrossed with the overall concept of the 30
baht lunch we did not spoil it by looking for alcoholic drinks, but stuck
with water from the dispenser, like the vast majority of the diners there
that Sunday lunch.
From the point of view of “value for money” it would
be hard to find better, anywhere. With over 20 dishes to choose from and
good quality food it is no wonder the place gets busy at lunchtime, which
covers 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. For a good fun lunch, this is a place you can
take the family and still have change left out of 200 baht. By the way, you
do not have to stick to water with your buffet lunch, beer and wine are
available, but obviously not within the 30 baht scheme. We also found that
the local people all appreciated our being there and were just so helpful.
Highly recommended. (Hean Kha Joa does have a la carte dining in the
evenings, combined with local dance performances, if you only have time to
experience the restaurant after sundown.)
Hean Kha Joa Restaurant and Museum, Soi 3/3, Keaw Nawarat Road, (Nr the
overpass to the Prince Royal’s College), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 262