Phuping Chinese Restaurant

The duck stops here!

“We’ve probably got the best Peking Duck in Chiang Mai hotels,” said the resident manager of the Chiangmai Orchid Hotel, Anan Hochindarat. I like positive people, so it was with some expectation that we dined in their Phuping Chinese Restaurant.

Like most Chinese restaurants, the Phuping has an air of opulence. Gilded dragons and Chinese urns abound, as do the charming waitresses in their red cheong sams, split to the thigh.

In addition to the individual tables, there are also four private rooms, with the Chinese circular tables and carousel lending themselves to large groups and relaxed dining.

The menu is typical Chinese with 134 items, with most offered in the small-medium-large portions. There is also the chef’s recommendations, that has the Peking Duck at B. 600 that includes the duck skin, plus a duck meat dish of your choice such as saut้ed with garlic and white pepper, BBQ’d or sweet and sour, plus the clear soup made from the bones.

There is a page dedicated to shark fin items and another for abalone. These are rare and expensive delicacies and you’ll need deep pockets for these; however, the rest of the menu is very reasonably priced. Even snow fish or salmon is priced at only B. 300. Vegetarian items are very cheap at around B. 100 for a small serve, while saut้ed beef done in different ways were B. 150 for the small helping. Pork and chicken items were similarly priced.

Other items of a very Chinese nature were the pigeon, including one of my favourites, the minced pigeon breast on lettuce (sang chow bao), which requires advance order. Another bird on offer is goose (and not just the liver!). Bird’s nest soup, the classic Chinese item is B. 600 per serving, and noodle and rice dishes abound between B. 100-120.

The Chinese are proud of their desserts, and the Phuping has a page and a half of items for you to choose from.

We used one of the private rooms and we had no sooner sat down than we were presented with a moist cold towel. Nice touch.

Although we had come to try the Peking Duck, Kh. Anan also had a representative sample of the dim sum dishes for us to try. One of my favourites is always the pork buns, and the Phuping’s kitchen certainly knows how to make those! Top class. The dim sum items are all generally around B. 30. Kh. Anan told me that they have 12 dedicated kitchen personnel, just for the Chinese restaurant.

As well as the Peking duck we tried a crispy prawn salad and many other items, whose presentation was superb. Chinese restaurants do appear to enjoy making vegetable dragons as decoration, and Phuping’s artisans in the kitchen are artists on the plate.

We finished with a delicious fried pancake stuffed with dates.

The Phuping is a good example of the Chinese style of restaurant in Chiang Mai. It is sufficiently up-market to be an enjoyable evening (or lunch) out, yet relaxed enough that you are not worrying about dropping food on the tablecloth all the time. The fact that everyone laughed at my antics with the chopsticks, and the waitress quietly snuck a fork and spoon beside my plate, showed the attentive nature of the staff (as well as the fact that perhaps I should take chopsticks lessons).

The Peking Duck provides a good meal, and looking at the number of people that can be fed from one duck, it makes it a very inexpensive dish on a per head basis.

This restaurant should be kept in mind when the family requests ‘eating Chinese’.

(After dinner we relaxed in the hotel’s Opium Club and listened to some ‘live’ music, though I was a little worried that the bass guitarist might not last to the end of the bracket!)

Phuping Chinese Restaurant, Chiangmai Orchid Hotel, 23 Huay Kaew Road (next to Kad Suan Kaew shopping center), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 222 099, fax 053 221 625, email cmorchid @ lox info.co.th, website www. chiangmaiorchid.com. Secure parking in the hotel grounds. Hours 11 a.m. till 2 p.m. (dim sum lunch) and 6 p.m. till 10 p.m. (dinner).