DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Chiang Mai’s first Subway

And the train is always on time!

The new Subway franchise has finally opened in Chiang Mai. To say that this outlet has been waited for is an understatement. While I was standing at the counter, a long-stay expat lady with two children came in, saying, “Thank God you’re here!” to Subway owner Robert Villa. As the Subway outlet had been open less than two weeks at that stage, Robert’s face became wreathed in smiles!

The new ‘fresh sandwich’ franchise is in the Chiangmai Pavilion Plaza, in the Night Bazaar area, and is inside the building probably best known, up till now, for the red and yellow golden arches franchise on the corner. Robert Villa and wife Kak are hoping that people will soon remember Chiangmai Pavilion Plaza for the green and yellow franchise instead!

Being part of a successful franchise system, the Chiang Mai Subway follows the tried and true company formula, both for the venue and for the food. Normally you expect the kitchen/preparation areas in food outlets to be large. This is not the case with this Subway, as they get their new supplies daily, rather than stockpile. This is part of the rationale behind the Subway branding, to maintain freshness of ingredients, and the Chiang Mai Subway has to pass regular reviews by the ‘head office’ standards inspector. Even the suppliers themselves have to gain status as ‘Subway approved’ before they can deliver to the stores.

Like all sandwiches (or ‘subs’) the basic building block is the bread, and I did not realize there was so much in it, till I was taken through the Subway steps. There is over 10 hours of preparation of the dough before it goes to the final oven. The dough takes some making, before it makes you any dough, is the idea.

The “assembly” station where the staff actually “build” your sandwich to your order is also refrigerated to maintain the freshness in the salads in particular and the hygienic purity of the meats. The Subway store even has a thermocouple probe to ensure that minimum temperatures are not exceeded. So much for safety, purity and hygiene. I remain impressed by the exacting Subway approach. Now let’s get down to the serious business of getting a sandwich.

The ‘menu’ is on the signboard on the wall, or you can read one of the flyers before walking up to place your order. There are choices in the type of bread and the size of your submarine sandwich (6 inches or 12 inches - the “Footlong”). Then you choose the category you want the ingredients to come from - put in two groups - Classics or Basics. Classics include Italian BMT, Subway Club (chicken, roast beef and ham), roasted chicken breast and tuna, while the Basics includes turkey breast, ham, roast beef and even a ‘Veggie Delite’.

The next step is to add in the cheese and vegetables you would like, select the sauce to be added and it is yours. The cost of most of these ranges between B. 89 through to B. 129 for the six inch selections, through to B. 149-199 for the ‘Footlongs’.

Robert Villa was also very proud to tell me that not only were the ingredients fresh, but the turkey came from America, while the beef came from Australia.

It was lunchtime when I went to do the dining out review, so I stuck with a six incher. Having previously eaten at Subways all over the world, I knew that the Footlong would be too much. I can assure you that unless you have a big appetite, stick with the six inch version. The ‘Footlong’ is huge!

Subway products really do stand or fall on the freshness of the ingredients, and there was no doubting that in any way. The ingredients were fresh. The baked on-premises bread is also fresh, and the end result is a filling sandwich that really is the healthy alternative. I have always enjoyed the Subway products and am sure that Chiang Mai residents will do the same.

Subway, Chiangmai Pavilion Plaza, 145 Changklan Road, Night Bazaar, Chiang Mai, telephone 053 818 970. Open seven days, 10 a.m. till midnight.