At last, truly innovative cuisine

One of the newest venues in Chiang Mai is the Rachamankha, still in its ‘soft opening’ period. Yet when you first drive in, you think you have just discovered one of the oldest, with the buildings done in an old Thai style. As you drive in, you will see the main hotel buildings are on your left, and the restaurant is straight ahead.

Inside, the fully air-conditioned restaurant is long and narrow, with a very high ceiling. One side looks out on to a quadrangle, through glassed-in ornamental carved wooden doors, while on the other side are windows with rattan blinds, and traditional Thai and Burmese artworks in between.

The tables are totally covered with white linen, with another white linen tablecloth over the top and heavy white linen napkins. The cutlery is bespoke and heavy polished stainless steel, good glasses and the crockery in traditional pattern. The service staff are decked out in Lanna style outfits, reminding you of the fact that you are in the heart of the Lanna civilization.

The menu (called Thai Gastronomique) begins with tom yam soup with prawns at B. 185 and a beef masala at B. 150. These are fairly standard items to lead you into a new culinary level, with sour tamarind flavoured red chilli soup with fillet of red snapper or prawns and mixed seasonal vegetables, all for B. 130.

After these there are some curries, generally around B. 100 and some stir-fries, including a wonderfully sounding golden-fried bell pepper stuffed with minced pork. Next page offers more Northern style dishes, all under B. 130.

It is after this that the menu really starts to come into its own. Entitled Thai Lanna Fusion and European it offers poached apple slices with a sweet basil dressing (B. 70) and cantaloupe cubes and grated mozzarella cheese with orange cream dressing (B. 105) as examples of this style.

The following page has items like cheese stuffing roasted chicken breast with kamfoy grass sauce (B. 315) or a cheese lasagne with young gourd leaves (sayote) stuffing (B. 240) or a Northern style egg noodle ossobuco (B. 205).

We began with the shrimp salad with hanglay cream dressing and I was immediately enraptured. The tiger prawns and the hanglay cream were made for each other! Two very smooth and distinct tastes. Brilliant! We then tried the pounded pork which was again a very different (and spicy) item, which came with several garden vegetables and was one that I found later from the chef was actually a Thai Yai dish.

Two other dishes sampled included the ossobuco, done in a ‘kao soy’ style with the fried crispy noodles on top. The meat was cooked to perfection, and the garlic in the ‘soup’ certainly gave the dish some spiciness. The other was a grilled lamb chop on a tamarind sauce and was another beautiful blend.

Finally we had the Tommy Tang’s sticky rice with mango which is either steamed or fried. Both were delicious!

It had been a gourmet lunch. It was no less than fine food in fine dining ambience. Probably the most impressive new venue I have been to in Chiang Mai. There are an accepted few well-known top restaurants in Chiang Mai. The Rachamankha is right up there with any of them.

The food was simply superb, with new tastes and a sensible use of the ‘fusion cuisine’ concept by the Rachamankha chef. For me, the shrimp salad with hanglay cream dressing was the dish of the day, while for Madame, it was the ossobuco, with its skilful blending of the kao soy ingredients and their adaptation to the European dish.

The Rachamankha will become one of the top choices for visiting gourmets. This is a restaurant where you can show your guests a glimpse of Chiang Mai of yesteryear with cuisine as fresh as tomorrow. You must try this place. You will not be disappointed, the food is conservatively priced and the ambience exceptional. Highest recommendation possible.

The Rachamankha, 6 Rachamankha 9, T. Phra Sing, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 904 111, fax 053 904 114, email [email protected] Secure parking within the compound. Open from 7 a.m. till 10 p.m.