DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Baan Rom Mai

A truly ‘ethnic’ family experience

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 Thai style.

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 relaxing.

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 midnight.