Food for You

Gina Hahn

I first met Papatsorn Chalermvattananond (“Tutu”) the young chef/owner of Food for You, several years ago when he opened his restaurant just outside of town in the Sansai district. A friend invited us, saying that Tutu prepared and served some of the best Thai food she had ever eaten. Since she is Thai, and a formidable cook herself, we anticipated the meal with delight. And we were not disappointed. I must look like one of Pavlov’s favorite pooches as I write this. The spring rolls were unlike any I had ever eaten. And the seafood! What can I say except fresh, fresh, fresh. So I was excited to join the Dining Out team recently at the newly re-opened Food for You, same location, same heavenly smells wafting from the kitchen.

Like many fine cooks, Tutu began his career in his family’s kitchen when he was no more than 12 years old. His father’s flair in the kitchen was his strongest influence. He spent a while working in both the United States and Australia before he came home and opened Food for You. When he cooks, he thinks of himself as preparing food for family and friends, not simply customers. It is a labor of love. It is fine Thai dining but without pretentious prices.

The restaurant, which is located in the family home, offers seating both inside (air-conditioned) and out. As we entered, all of the tables were set, each table in matching colors but different from its neighbors. Utensils were neatly tucked into linen napkins at each place. The ambiance is crisp, clean and inviting.

We began our meal with shrimp and crab rolls artistically arranged on the platter, the crab rolls resembling fat bread sticks on first glance. Each shrimp roll contained fresh shrimp and a stalk of asparagus wrapped in rice paper. The crabmeat was mixed with seasoning vegetables, and the mixture was creamy and fresh. We could have lingered all evening over these tasty rolls, but the spicy lemon squid soup arrived just as we polished off the last of them. This is a clear soup, slightly spicy, with cilantro and lime. A wave of your hand above the hot soup and you can luxuriate in the intense aromas of Thai food. The combination of flavors was delicious, the squid small and tender.

Next came a plate of crispy duck served with honey sauce, a house specialty. This deep fried boneless duck breast was served on a special honey-ginger sauce. The outside was crisp, the duck meat tender, and the sauce a delightful contrast to the flavor of the duck. The combination seafood dish arrived. You must try this one. Fish, shrimp, clams and squid are combined in a sauce with fresh tomatoes, bell peppers, onions, and chili sauce, and then topped with crisply fried basil leaves. It’s a perfect dish, with contrasting colors, textures, and tastes. A large plate of shrimp fried rice was placed before us, but fried rice with a difference. Fresh basil and just a touch of chili gave it a nice “kick” and greatly enhanced the flavor of fried rice. Just as we thought we couldn’t hold another bite, a beautiful dish of salmon in Panang curry arrived. The salmon was grilled slightly, served rare with Kaffir lime leaves and red bell peppers, and topped with a curry sauce. Fresh green beans offered a color and consistency contrast.

The team sighed deeply. Fresh fruit, coffee and tea were served. Tutu joined us at our table. We could barely murmur our gratitude. We’ll be back, and we’ll bring our families and friends.

Food for You, at the old Jinda Needle Works factory, 28 Moo 5,Chiangmai-Doisaket Road, Sansai, Chiang Mai. Drive out the Chiangmai-Doi Saket Road past the market and the Shell station on the left, U-turn just past the Shell station. Look for the green sign with yellow lettering on the left shortly after you U-turn. Follow the small green signs to the restaurant. It’s best to go before sunset your first time so that you can find the signs easily. Food for You is open Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings from 5 p.m. until closing, or by appointment at any time for groups of 15 or more. Always make reservations. Tel 0 5349 1604, mobile 0 1530-4386.