Him Pochana - forget the surroundings - just try the food

The Him Pochana Restaurant has been on the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road location for only 6 months, but in that time has already built up a sizable following. One reason for that may be the fact that the owner, Wichan Tangtonrakul is the president of the Chiang Mai Restaurant Club, so he knows the food business.

The main restaurant building is a huge, open on three sides, building, which also has air-conditioned private rooms along the enclosed side. It is set back from the road and has a large car park, and you cross a small footbridge over a stream to get to the dining area. There is no English signage, so look for the road sign that indicates 17 kilometres to Doi Suthep, and Him Pochana is about 100 metres before that on the left.

On first look, it is a typical “Chinese” style eatery, plenty of circular tables with central carousels, hovering waiters with ice and tongs, a Chinese shrine at one end and television sets! We were met by Khun Wichan himself, and the Dining Out team of two settled down to study the menu. And ‘study’ is the name of the game. In typical Chinese style again, the menu is a multi-paged effort (16 to be precise) with around 15-20 items per page, with some items you will not often see, such as fried chitterlings in oyster sauce, spicy hog maw salad, pig entrails salad or goose leg roast noodles and dried mushroom. It is also in Thai and English, so no problems there.

To indicate the range and prices, I have used the indicated price of the ‘small’ serves (most dishes coming in two sizes) for the sake of the review. The first page is entitled Vegetables and includes all the usual stir fries and in addition ‘spinacia gleracea’, apium, water mimosa and young pumpkin leaf. Prices ranged from 40 baht up to 80.

Pork dishes are next, in every way you could imagine at B. 60, with beef next and at the same price, as is the following section on chicken choices. Duck ranges between B. 60-100, while stir-fried shrimp is B. 80-100. Squid dishes are generally B. 70-80, while crab is around B. 80-100, though some seasonal dishes are charged by weight. Fried fish are again cheap at B. 60-80 and even the steamed or fried whole fish are inexpensive, with small fish coming in around B. 160, and large examples B. 240-300.

Next up are a couple of pages of spicy salad items with the majority B. 60, including pigs ear, water mimosa and chickens feet. These are followed by soups (B. 80), roasted items B. 60-80, grills B. 80-150, and continues on for another four pages, with rice and noodle dishes down as low as B. 30.

Khun Vichan had arranged for us to sample a range of dishes, including fried pork with onion and pepper, stir fried Chinese lettuce and shrimp balls, a fish head and taro root soup, a crab in an egg based sauce and a sea bass topped with oyster sauce.

Now I must admit that on my own I would not have attempted the fish head soup, but let me tell you that it was sensational! A wonderful rich stock, with the taro soft and big chunks of fish meat. It was almost a European winter soup and we both enjoyed it immensely. The other dishes were also excellent, and I particularly liked the Chinese lettuce and shrimp balls (must have been a mighty big shrimp), while Madame went for the crab.

The Dining Out team came away from Him Pochana very impressed. From very modest surroundings, this restaurant is producing an excellent standard of food. And inexpensively. We were not disappointed in any of the dishes, and that soup was just superb! . Highly recommended as a good family style restaurant offering excellent food and equally excellent value. Take the kids.

Him Pochana, Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road (just before the 17 km to Doi Suthep road sign), 78 Tambon Changpuak, Ampur Muang Chiang Mai City, tel. 053 219 056. Open 7 days, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.