Tamarind Village

For a quiet spell

Tamarind Village is one of those boutique hotels that you stumble across every so often. Done in exquisite Lanna style, it is hard to imagine when you are sitting under a frangipani tree around the swimming pool that busy, noisy Chiang Mai is less than 30 seconds away. The architects have managed very successfully to produce a secluded Lanna style oasis on Rajchadamnoen Road in the center of town.

Built as three private courtyards, when you come in through the entrance gate, the end one on the right has the swimming pool and the wooden restaurant sala at the far end.

The tables are set up as fine dining, with heavy starched white linen tablecloths and napkins and stainless steel cutlery. There are some within the sala, though the second floor, which would be ideal to catch the breezes and look out over the pool, looked as if it were not used. Other tables are around the pool, and we chose that area for dinner. They are also shaded by large umbrellas during sunlight hours. The service staff are in white tunics and it all looks very up-market.

The menu is quite large, so we decided to enjoy a beer while perusing. Small bottles of local brews are B. 60-70 and large ones B. 120-140. Cocktails are B. 130.

The menu starts with snacks (B. 90-120) and introduces the diners to some northern items such as banana flower. It also introduces the diners to some fine examples of Thaiglish such as “banana flonwer” and “beef slices with spice and hers sewed with fresh Chinese broccoli”.

Next items are the appetizers (B. 80-120) with many salads and sausages. These are followed by two pages just entitled Thai dishes, all B. 90 or less and cover stir-fries and deep-fried items, fried rice variations and Pad Thai noodles. It also offers tom kha gai and tom yum goong (and talay), the standard Thai soups. There are also three western soups (French onion, consomm้? and various cream soups) all at B. 50.

For those who like to try the archetypal Northern food there is one page dedicated to the local “sai-oua” sausages and the spicy “nam prik ong”. I was also pleased to see hang lay (ginger) curry on the menu, but this was based on pork, rather than the more usual beef. There are a few ‘international’ dishes (B. 90-200) covering pastas through to a pork chop and a sirloin steak.

One excellent section in the menu refers to ‘Set Thai Food Menus’ which range between three at B. 300 and two at B. 200. These are very good ways of introducing local cuisine to tourists unsure of what to order after landing in a foreign country. However, once again the tourist has to wade through some very fine Thaiglish, and I can imagine their wondering what “tom yam goong shrihp soup with lemon grass lamon juice and chilli” might be and whether they should try the “spring rools” and finish with the “mixed fresh fruitin senson”?

The food was enjoyable without being memorable, but the northern sausage was beautiful and the larb moo and gai tod were both good examples of the cuisine. However, I did find the tom kha gai was a little too ‘lemony’ and the deep-fried tub tim a little dry, despite its excellent presentation.

This restaurant is not budget priced, but is not over the top for the standard of food and surroundings you receive. We all remarked on the peaceful ambience during dinner, and it gives the impression that you would like to stay there and linger. We were a party of five and all of us felt sorry for single diners who were obviously staying at the Tamarind Village in one of their 40 rooms. It really is a place to come with company and enjoy the ambience. But please, please get someone to check the spellings in the menu!

Tamarind Village, 50/1 Rajchadamnoen Road, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 418 898, fax 053 418 900, email sales @tamarindvillage.com, web site www.tamarind village .com. Secure parking outside the Tamarind Village ‘compound’. Open early morning for breakfast until late, as it services the Tamarind Village residents.