Palaad Tawanron Restaurant

One of the newest restaurants in Chiang Mai is Palaad Tawanron, and is one of the few restaurants that might feature in the Guinness Book of Records! But more of that later.

When we called in to review the establishment, it had been up and running for only nine days, so we were not surprised to see building activity still in progress, but by the time this review is printed, Chiang Mai will have yet another interesting choice for dining out.

Getting there is simple. Go along Suthep Road until you see the signs to the zoo, or the signs for Palaad Tawanron itself, and turn right. Follow the twisty little road up the hill and you will see the restaurant on the right hand side. You cannot miss it.

The restaurant has two main areas, an air-conditioned section which in turn leads out on to a wooden terrace built over the hill slopes and overlooking the large reservoir. This is particularly attractive, with trees and orchids, umbrellas, natural wood furniture and a real atmosphere of communing with nature. I was also advised to try the toilets which have an even more commanding vista. A sort of ‘loo with a view’ if you like.

The menu is large and very comprehensive, and is mainly of Thai cuisine, though the German pork knuckle (only B. 220) has the addendum ‘Tawanron style’.

It begins with some chef’s recommendations which include the pork knuckle, with most items being around the B. 120 level, such as the steamed home-grown chicken with Chinese liqueur.

There are several choices of sea bass, cooked in various ways, with all of them under B. 200. Again, the prawns can be ordered several ways, with the majority only B. 150, while crab dishes are B. 350. Still on the seafood theme, shrimps, fish and mussels are offered with more than 20 choices, ranging in price from B. 70-180.

Other sections include deep-fries mainly around B. 80, grills all under B. 150, vegetarian items (B. 50-80), Thai salads and papaya salads (B. 50-80), dished in hot pans (B. 100-150), soups rice and more!

There are also beverages, including several fruit juices, as well as beers (bottled and draft) and spirits.

The food was brought to our table by young and enthusiastic service personnel, smartly turned out in Lanna style tops and blue trousers. It was obvious that they were eager to please, something that one does not always experience unfortunately.

We tried a mix of dishes, beginning with a German style pork knuckle. This was huge and so tender I did not need to call for a knife. Interestingly this turned out to be Madame’s pick of the dishes, although being Thai and a devoted chilli fan.

The crab dish was very well presented and pre-cracked. Despite my assertion that crab represents too much work for too little return, this was a very flavoursome dish, saut้ed with black pepper.

We also had a steamed sea bass which was very, very good, and was my pick from our lunchtime repast. The presentation was again superb, complete with quivering swan vegetable sculpture.

We had gone at lunchtime to do the review and it was delightful sitting outside. ‘Maitresse d’ Annette told us that at night there are lights in the trees, and around the reservoir, to produce a very romantic atmosphere, and I am sure that would be the case. The food presented to us was excellent, both in taste and presentation, and spanned both Thai and European cuisines, and was very moderately priced. This is definitely one restaurant to try and another good addition to the Chiang Mai dining out scene. Recommended.

Ah yes, I almost forgot the Guinness Book of Records. You can go elephant trekking as well, and they have ‘potty-trained’ the elephants to use a custom made loo, the largest flush toilet in the world! Another first for Palaad Tawanron and Chiang Mai.

Palaad Tawanron restaurant, at the gateway to Chiang Mai Zoo, telephone 053 216 576, fax 053 217 073, email [email protected] Open seven days, 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Ample secure parking outside the restaurant, or within the zoo itself. Just avoid the elephants!