The Pasta

The way to Heaven?

The Pasta is a new venture on Nimmanhaemin Road, the result of a friendship between Dr. Wat, Dr. Morkid and culinary entrepreneur Kh. Duang. It had only been open for a few weeks when we landed on the doorstep for lunch (even though it is not really open for lunch yet) and made the acquaintance of the irrepressible chef Duang, author of an about to be released book “Easy Thai Vegetarian from K. Duang’s Kitchen” from Amarin Publishing. “My passion is to cook for everyone and see them smile,” said Duang, in between checking the kitchen and showing me a bottle of Grolsch beer which he has in stock.

The building has been decorated in white, with similar coloured floor tiles. The tables and chairs are in light natural wood and the atmosphere is one of spacious airiness. A space that becomes more than filled with chef Duang’s enthusiasm, I should add.

The menu is a simple affair in Thai and English, with the first page covering Appetizers that range in price between 49-69 baht including a crispy crabmeat with green apple salad and the House Salad (B. 39) and various salad dressings including home made yoghurt with herbs, Balsamic vinegar or Duang’s own Italian dressing.

The next page has nine Som Tums (B. 30-59) in many styles, including Laos or Thai, and then seven ‘steak’ items covering beef, fish, pork and chicken, ranging from B. 59 for a pork steak in pepper sauce through to a T-bone or a salmon steak at B. 159.

For me, the next two pages were the most interesting. This is where you can ‘mix and match’ your pastas and your sauces, including the Thai Fusion concept. At the top of one page are the six styles of pasta you can choose - Spaghetti, Ink Fettucine, Fettucine, Penne, Linguini or Fusilli. Make your first decision from that list. After this there are four Bolognese sauces (B. 49-69) - chicken, pork, meat, seafood. If none of those are your choice, then there are four Carbonara sauces (B. 69-79) - mushroom cream, ham and cheese, prawn white wine or tuna cheese. Still not sure? Then the next page is for you. These are the Thai items that can be mixed with your pasta choice. You have 14 choices, all at B. 59, including roasted duck in red curry, chicken and cashews, tom yum prawns or crabmeat fried with curry powder. This is the ‘fusion’ concept; however, if all you want is some Thai food and to hell with Italy, then you can have any of the Thai items with steamed rice instead of pasta. Brilliant concept!

We began with the chicken cheese appetizer, which was cheesy and chicken deep-fried and an excellent starter. This was followed with the garden salad, which K. Duang said was made from hydroponic vegetables with a yoghurt/herb dressing which was quite sharp and flavoursome.

After these it was into the pastas, and we tried the chicken with coconut cream - and it was! Beautifully creamy with that distinctive tom kha gai taste. This was my favourite, while the ink fettuccine with the prawns with white wine sauce went a close second. In fact, everyone at our table chose a different dish - it appeared that both Italian and Thai were universally popular - and combined just heightened the pleasure. Perhaps this could even be described as ‘heavenly’? K. Duang thinks so!

We found The Pasta offered excellent food, and the fusion of Thai and Italian certainly makes for a new kind of cuisine. The Thai food is cooked to what K. Duang calls an authentic taste, but if chilli spice can be too much for you, just tell the waiter and they will wind down the chilli content. We enjoyed the food, the ambience and surroundings are pleasant, the prices are cheap and the overall rating has to be very high. A great place for an inexpensive meal, and well worth visiting - and be adventurous! At B. 59 for the Fusion items you can afford to be. Do try this one.

The Pasta, 59 Nimmanhaemin Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 894 034. Currently open 5 p.m. till 10 p.m.