DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Sanfun Restaurant

Traditional Thai in a garden setting

With so many good international restaurants to choose from in Chiang Mai, it becomes too easy to forget you are actually in Thailand! This week the Dining Out Team went right back to the indigenous cuisine when we went to visit the Sanfun Restaurant.

The restaurant is not too difficult to find. Follow the moat around from the Suan Dok gate until you come to the Nong Buak Hat public park as you turn left into Bamrung Buri Road. Look carefully on the left and pop down the soi before Carrot and Red Bug and you will see the restaurant in a sea of trees and umbrellas. If you get as far as the Suan Prung gate, you’ve gone well past it.

At night, when we went visiting, it is a most romantic, almost Balinese, style venue, with the central large fig tree dominating, plus the umbrellas, hanging Lanna lanterns and even a high domed covered area for those times when it is raining.

The staff are also decked out in fetching ‘Pa Sins’ and on our evening were very eager to please. There are enough English speakers to make sure that your order is understood. The tables are wood with glass tops, dotted around the garden setting, and the evening breezes were delightfully cooling. As it was going to be a Thai evening, we went ‘all the way’ and ordered local Chang beers at B. 45 and perused the menu.

The appetizers were all around B. 60 including crispy pork with black pepper. The next section was the chef’s recommendations, ranging from B. 45-120, with the Sanfun hydroponic salad at the low end and the ruby fish at the top.

Thai soups are next, generally between B. 50-80 with an interesting sounding “Red Hot Curry with Coconut Milk”. The menu continues with Thai salads around B. 30 and another section called Famous Salads Thai Style (som tums) at B. 60-80 and then some fish dishes at B. 80-120 and stir-fries at B. 60-120.

There is a wine list, with all wines under B. 900 (there is a Thai wine at B. 300 also) and beers ranging from the aforementioned Chang, to Singha at B. 60 and Heineken at B. 75. Herbal drinks are available at B. 20.

The vegetables at Sanfun are either hydroponic, or from the Royal Project, and they even use hydroponic veggies as table decoration, just to remind you! We had a wide selection of dishes presented to us, including the shrimp soup with mixed vegetables served with a small flame underneath to keep it hot throughout the meal. Since it was a Thai style evening, most of the dishes arrived at once, and I like the idea of being able to keep the soup hot. We also had some Vietnamese spring rolls, made with hydroponic vegetables. These were very flavoursome, with the vegetables well hydrated with plump leaves, and the sauce not overly spicy.

Sanfun Restaurant is proud of its ruby fish, so we had one of those deep-fried. Very pleasant, but watch out for the bones! Another of the dishes we tried had needle mushroom salad with shrimp and squid. Again this was a Thai spicy hot dish, and authentic.

It was certainly a ‘Thai’ evening, in a glorious setting. If you are looking for a venue serving authentic Thai cuisine, then Sanfun Restaurant will suit you very well. It is also a place to stay and linger. Having many tables, they are not trying to get rid of you as soon as possible, and it was obvious that this was a very popular place with the local Thai population. I have always claimed that if you see a restaurant that is well patronized, you will get good food there. The food at Sanfun was properly cooked, the place is clean, and for your overseas guests will give them an idea of better class Thai food at very reasonable prices.

Sanfun Restaurant, 15/7 Bamrung Buri Road, T. Phrasingh, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 815 150, or 01 784 3362. Off-street parking outside. Open 11 a.m. till 11 p.m. (Fast food menu available 11 a.m. till 5 p.m.)