We live in Thailand, the inhabitants are called Thai and they
speak and read a language called Thai. To fully appreciate this week’s
restaurant, you will need one of these afore-mentioned Thai people to come with
you. To find out why, read on!
Baan Rom Mai Restaurant is very new, in the very new Chang
Klan Plaza development. It is located at the far end of the Plaza, so when you
drive in off Chang Klan Road, go slowly along until you see the beautiful
ornamental gardens and then look for a parking spot.
The restaurant encompasses a group of buildings, with the
main one of two storeys. The owners say that the restaurant is in a Bali-style
garden atmosphere, and that is a fairly apt description, with much use of
natural wood building materials, and everything set in dense tropical greenery.
Some of the buildings are dedicated karaoke rooms, being
small or large for families, or even more cloistered for visiting VIP’s.
Pathways connect the rooms, with Lanna costumed service personnel scurrying
through with trays of food. On the evening we were there it was raining, and the
staff were scurrying at a very smart pace to ensure the diners received their
food in the same condition as it left the kitchen!
We chose the main dining salon, an area open to the gardens
with glazed tiled floors, heavy (Chinese style) wooden tables and chairs (with
cushions) and woven Lanna placemats. Along one side is a bar area, with some
energetic bar personnel. Along the back wall is a music console with a singer
serenading the diners. Just outside there is also a children’s playground with
swings and other amusements for the forthcoming generations.
The menu is spectacular! Well, the cover is spectacular,
covered with bas-relief elephants and the word ‘Welcome’. Unfortunately,
this is where the English finishes, other than the last page which states that
Baan Rom Mai has Chivas ‘Legal’. As mentioned at the beginning, this is one
venue where a Thai speaking companion is more than decorative. It is almost
mandatory! However, the staff are enthusiastic and I am sure suggestions can
(and would) be made.
We tried many different items, including an amazing
deep-fried tub-tim fish, which comes covered in a furry ‘blanket’ of fried
lemongrass and garlic, with the fish already sectioned and fried individually.
White meat that reminded me of snowfish, and a beautiful batter.
Another dish we tried was ton sap, an Isaan, very sharply hot
style of dish, reminiscent of a fiery tom yum goong. The larb gai (spicy minced
chicken) was also a very spicy item, again showing its Isaan origins.
We drank beer to go with our food, and again in Thai style,
the jug of draft was dispensed into glasses filled with ice cubes. If you do not
like ice with your beer you will have to ask, not the other way around. This is
We enjoyed the food at Baan Rom Mai (literally ‘house under
the trees’), but I have to admit that having Madame, who is Thai, did help.
The lack of an English menu does make life that little bit more difficult if you
are eating out!
It was, as I have indicated at the top of the article, an
‘ethnic’ experience. Karaoke is very popular with the Thai people, and Baan
Rom Mai offers that in many forms. It also offers very good Thai and Isaan food,
and very inexpensively priced. It is a venue that will be (or perhaps already
is) very popular with the Thai residents, and is one where the expat population
can also go and join in the fun. It is a good place for families or groups, and
one to sit and enjoy in an unhurried way, rather than pre-theatre dining. In the
Thai way, it is also ‘child friendly’. Finally, this appears to be one venue
that does not play Hotel California! Amazing! Johnny Denver is much more
Baan Rom Mai, Chang Klan Plaza, 191/12 Chang Klan Road, Chiang Mai, telephone
053 820 031, 01 992 3341. Ample parking within the grounds. Open 10 a.m. until