Mabuhay Restaurant

For a fun Filipino welcome

The Mabuhay Restaurant is not a place where you stand on ceremony. Owner Agnes (Annie) Prathuangsuk says, “I want everyone to come and feel at home.” She then goes on to relate how several of her guests, ladies and gentlemen of high station, have realised that if too many of them come at once, they might just have to serve themselves! And they do. It’s that kind of a place.

Annie is a Filipina who married a Thai architecture student and came to live in Thailand over 30 years ago. She had no intention of opening a restaurant, but it just happened and Mabuhay has been at its current location for over 15 years.

It is very close to the Amari Rincome, off Nimmanhaeminda Road. Look for the sign on the right, about 500 metres from the Amari. Mabuhay is 200 metres down the small soi. Look hard, you can miss it!

The restaurant is set in the ‘garden’ beside the house, but in a covered patio area. The eight tables are covered with cheery check tablecloths and the chairs are simple wooden ones. Condiments on the table included salt and pepper in oregano and bay leaves dispensers! “They make the best shakers,” said Annie. The decor would best be described as ‘eclectic’ with a Japanese watercolour alongside a Thai calendar, and the Beatles music in the background.

The menu is as unpretentious as the surroundings. A simple green laminated number printed on two sides with English and Thai and some Filipino names. On one side are the mains which range in price from the roasted spare ribs with rice at B. 50, through to the sarsiadong isda (fish in tomato sauce) at B. 100 to the top rellenong isda, a stuffed fish at B. 200-240 depending upon weight.

Four rice based dishes are next (B. 45-70) including chicken adobo. There are five soups (B. 80-120), with three of them being Filipino cuisine items and it’s over the page. This starts with four vegetable items (not strictly vegetarian items) (B. 50-80) and then half a dozen noodle dishes (B. 40-60) including spaghetti and a pancit canton, a Filipino local style noodles and a whatever’s left kind of dish. Desserts and drinks are all that’s remaining, with beers at around B. 55-75, softs at B. 15 and iced tea or coffee at B. 20.

We left it to Annie to decide what we should have and she presented us with a range. We began with the sinigang na hipon, a shrimp in sour broth soup, but one that is quite different from the tom yum goong of Thailand. There were around five different vegetables in the broth, and some large shrimps. Not too spicy either.

We followed with the rellenong isda stuffed fish - an amazing creation where the fish meat is totally removed from the skin, filleted, chopped and returned to its skin ‘wrapper’ and baked. Annie said you have to have great ‘feeling’ to be able to make this item. “Art from the heart,” she called it!

A very moist chicken adobo was next, with very subtle tastes that I returned to more than once. Another ‘more-ish’ dish was her crispy pata with pickled vegetables and a sugar/soy sauce. This is similar to German pork knuckle, but is actually of Spanish origins. We made going noises, but we were not allowed to take our leave till we had tried her home-made apple and coconut pies. They were lovely, Annie, but we were too full!

The Dining Out Team was unanimous in its verdict. Mabuhay was fun and Mabuhay gave us good food in large portions. “I don’t know how to cut pie in small slices,” said Annie, after we remonstrated with her over the enormous slices of pie! The food is excellent - done to Annie’s recipes, by the lady herself. This is a place to go to enjoy yourself and have a great meal at the same time. Just don’t bother dressing up for dinner! As Annie said, “If everything is formal, it’s not Mabuhay!” Highly recommended.

Mabuhay Restaurant, 2/1 Sukasem Road (off Nimmanhaeminda Road), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 223 753, 09 478 8474.