The first Dining Out review in Chiangmai Mail issue
number 1 was of Baan Suan. Since that issue, almost one year ago, the number of Chiangmai
Mail readers has multiplied many times over, so we felt it was only fair to
revisit this restaurant.
A few words on getting there. Probably the simplest is via
the Super Highway, Chiang Mai-Lampang and be ready to bail out around the Chiang
Mai Hospital 2, or the Lanna Hospital. Get on either the Chiang Mai-Mae Rim road
or the Chiang Mai-Meijo road on the other side of the Ping River and look for
the Baan Suan signs from there. Sorry to be vague, and we did get lost once, but
we did get there!
Baan Suan is set in a garden area beside the Ping River. The
torches lit along the river banks all add to the “Lanna” romance, with the
Thai salas and open air terraces and the d้cor of the North - wooden wall
carvings, wooden statues, wooden flooring and Northern Thai music.
The table settings are Lanna, with little ‘dunce’s
hats’ made of banana leaves over the glasses, locally woven tablecloths and
napkins, and original, hand painted ceramic plates from the north. Even the
cutlery is hand crafted stainless steel.
Before we ordered, we just sat out on the terrace,
overlooking the river and drank in the natural beauty of such an environment. It
is worth the contemplation.
The menu commences with appetizers, around 100-150 baht and
then into a section simply called Northern food (around B. 100) which includes
some Chiang Mai sausage items.
From there it is into Thai Food (B. 120-180) with curries
(both green and red) and some stir-fries, followed by choices of pork, beef or
chicken, again B. 120-180. These include roast spare-ribs in a pot and braised
duck in red wine sauce. Fish and shrimp items (B. 150-280) with snapper and
serpent head, and some soups (around B. 100-150) and then a small but
sophisticated European menu covering appetizers, soups, salads, breads and mains
which include items such flamb้s. Prices are hotel style (plus service and
There is a separate wine list with a selection of wines
coming from the old and new worlds with the whites and reds mainly under B.
We were given a ‘tasting’ menu with assorted items for us
to try. One of these was a yum guava salad which featured cashew nuts and the
‘farang’ fruit. This was flavoursome with a slight ‘bite’, but certainly
not over the top. Other appetizers included a shrimp spring roll, and a fried
minced tuna wrapped in thin pancakes.
To experience one of the European dishes we were served with
a flamb้ beef on a special hanging stand and salad, with accompanying
small dishes of caf้ de Paris butter, mayonnaise and 1000 island sauce.
Unfortunately, with the cooling breezes from the Ping River, the flamb้
wouldn’t, but it was still a pleasant dish.
The next items were back in the Thai menu. We were treated to
a snake’s head fish with herbs, a shrimp curry and a fried rice. The fried
rice came with its own dunce’s hat, leaving a cone of rice on the plate - very
novel. The fish was superb, with the lemongrass herbs giving it a great flavour.
The dessert was one we have had before - a mango with red
wine ‘snowflakes’. This is a fabulous dessert, and a perfect ending to allay
any spiciness that the diners may not be accustomed to with northern Thai food.
I should also mention the very aromatic coffee made from locally grown coffee
beans and by all reports another taste sensation, though we were too full to
even try the offered coffee.
In my summation all those months ago, I wrote “Baan Suan is
an experience. It is a romantic setting for long relaxed dining out.” I am
still of that opinion. A place to take visitors to give them an idea of what the
Lanna Kingdom was really like, and how northern Thai cuisine differs from other
Baan Suan, 25 M3, San-Phi-Sua, Muang Chiang Mai, telephone
053 854 169, 053 852 751.