Khun Churn

The ‘duck’ stops here!

I start this week’s restaurant review with an admission - Miss Terry Diner is a card-carrying carnivore, so when I found that we were going to a vegetarian restaurant for lunch I began wondering where I could get some vacuum-packed sausages to hide in the car for later!

The restaurant chosen was Khun Churn, the Chiang Mai version of a similar restaurant in Bangkok (Sathorn Soi 10). It is a little past the ‘Fine Thanks’ entertainment outlet and about 50 meters down Nimmanhaemin Lane 7 on the left side. You will have to look carefully as the restaurant is not well signposted and the garden section is tucked away from view.

The restaurant is in two main sections. There is a large garden courtyard with rustic furniture settings, a buffet set along the back wall and a fountain in one corner. Small trees and shrubs abound, so you do have to be a little careful traversing the courtyard with full plates from the buffet. There is also a dwelling in the area, which is air-conditioned, and contains a labyrinth of interconnected small rooms, with some rather low overhead beams. You have been warned! We were shown to the air-con area as the garden section was full to capacity. I was not aware of any vegetarian seminars in the region that day, so I have to presume Khun Churn’s buffet to be very popular.

The menu is large and in Thai and English, with brief explanations of the dishes. It begins with entrees, then soups, curries, salads, mains, some Northern dishes, noodles, fried rice, and beverages, and finally an assortment of fruit juices and teas with most around B. 10. For those who are still claiming there is nothing on the menu to suit, there is a plate of french-fries for B. 25, complete with vegetarian tomato sauce!

We tried a broad selection of vegetarian dishes, some of which were obvious as to their content, whilst others were not so easy to work out. The hoy-tod which usually comes as a stir-fried mussels in egg batter with bean sprouts is presented as a ‘look-alike’ but made from mushroom, egg and seaweed as well as the bean sprouts. I enjoyed this dish very much.

We also had the spicy curried ‘duck’ which was more deceptive visually than it was texturally, but the curry was very pleasant. The rice we chose was the brown unpolished rice, which comes as a ‘disc’ and is healthily ‘crunchy’ rather than the more usual stodgy offerings one sees so often.

Another dish I enjoyed was the Indian salad (Salad Kak) which came with ‘crisps’ on top and a very flavoursome peanut sauce.

Whilst some of the other items were perhaps not ones that I knew from the carnivorous world, there was nothing we had for lunch that was not to our tastes or palates. And every dish was truly vegetarian.

This restaurant provides food that is undoubtedly very healthy for your inner workings, and the prices charged are also very healthy for your wallet, as the vast majority of items are around B. 35 and the most expensive item I could find was only B. 55 for the hot pan stir-fried mix mushroom flavour garlic ginger (sorry, but that’s what it says in the menu)! Whilst there is a B. 55 daily buffet, which was obviously well patronized, at the prices in the a la carte menu I think I prefer the luxury of getting what you want, rather than getting what someone else wants you to have! However, this is a very personal and subjective view.

If you are looking for a strictly vegetarian venue, then Khun Churn should be on your list. If you are looking for somewhere to eat that is just a little different, then this is another reason to have Khun Churn on your list. And by the way, I didn’t need the vacuum-packed sausages!

Khun Churn vegetarian restaurant, 120/2 Nimman hae min Road (Lane 7), Chiang Mai, telephone 053 224 124. Street parking in the soi. Open seven days (but closed on the 16th of every month), 9.30 a.m. to 2.30 p.m. and 4.30 p.m. until 8.30 p.m.