This title of week’s review has already given the
game away, like turning to the last page of a ‘who dunnit’ and
finding out it was the butler after all. There is a song which goes,
"Some days are diamond, some days are stone" - let me tell you
that dining out at the Sala Mae Rim in the Regent Chiang Mai, the Four
Seasons Resort, was a diamond evening in a paradise built of stone. Has
Miss Terry Diner gone over the top this time? No, I have not, this was
an evening as close to the ultimate as I have experienced.
The restaurant is on one of the stone terraces of the
resort, overlooking the valley with planted rice fields and above it
all, the minarets and spires of the Regent’s residences poking through
the canopy of trees. Get there before sunset and watch the world settle
into night from the open air bar, before crossing the waterways via the
stone bridges to the restaurant itself.
The Sala Mae Rim is in a sala but with one section
glassed in and air-conditioned and the other just with the sala roofing
over the tables. We chose to sit outside, as even though the days have
been hot in Chiang Mai, the cooling breezes from the valley made dining
outside an even more romantic experience.
Unseen hands placed comfy chairs under our bottoms at
tables covered with white linen tablecloths and Lanna style contrasting
throw-over. Napkins were held in beaten silverware holders. Candles were
on the table and highly polished bespoke bronze cutlery was laid out for
our use. Little did we know at that time that we were about to enter
another world of culinary excellence.
The menu at Sala Mae Rim covers appetizers, Lanna
appetizers, soups, salads, curries meat and poultry and does show the
spiciness of the items with three chilli indicators, and a ‘V’ for
items that can be produced as a vegetarian dish. The individual helpings
range from a low of 170 baht (crispy vegetable spring rolls) to a top of
455 baht (beef curries), with the median around 250 baht.
Chef Derek Watanabe had put together a ‘tasting’
menu for us, with many different items, to show the range and
versatility of his team. Right from the start, it became obvious that
this was no ‘ordinary’ restaurant food, no matter how many stars Mr.
Michelin might like to throw out to others. In those first dishes was a
miang pla salmon samoon prai, a deep fried salmon topped with spicy
herbs. This was superb, with a sweet crispy herb coating to the salmon,
which still allowed the taste of the fish to come through, but enhanced
by the Thai herbs. A brilliant example of ‘fusion’ cuisine.
Being a ‘tasting’ menu, we tried many more
dishes, all of which we enjoyed, but here are a few of the items that
impressed Miss Terry’s palate. There was a smoked duck mango tartlet
with a tangerine mint vinaigrette tapas - superb taste. The panaeng nua
(beef curry) was delicious, with the meat very tender, and served in a
carved fresh pumpkin, and when you lifted the lid it was carved
underneath as well! I also enjoyed the krathong thong (chicken tartlets)
and the steamed baby seabass in a sweet ginger sauce, which came in a
carved split papaya fruit. Another ‘more-ish’ tapas was wonderfully
steamed scallop marinated in yoghurt, ginger and cashew nuts and
transfixed with a lemongrass stalk. Bravo! Bravo!
To sum it all up, the Sala Mae Rim dining out was to
experience as close to the ultimate that Miss Terry has ever had. The
food was brilliantly prepared and cooked, the presentation was simply
sensational, and the service faultless. Chef Derek Watanabe and his team
are to be congratulated on showing the world that you can experience
world class dining in Chiang Mai. Not cheap - but the best never is.
Invent an excuse to celebrate and go there. You will not be
disappointed. This restaurant gets the highest recommendation possible.
The Regent Chiang Mai, a Four Seasons Resort, Mae
Rim-Samoeng Old Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 298 181.