River Ping Palace

When musically inclined friends decided to produce an Evening With Cole Porter, Esther Ping’s River Ping Palace was the natural choice of venues. Located on the banks of the Ping River, the restaurant easily seats and serves sixty. And those who didn’t stay for dinner after the performance were welcome to have a drink and enjoy the music. The Dining Out team was delighted to indulge itself in this lovely fixed price dinner, at 400 baht a plate. As Cole Porter would say, “Let’s Do It!”

The meal began with a mixed appetizer platter that was beautifully presented. Fried mushrooms and other delicacies were served with complimenting sauces. The most interesting choice was the minced prawn that was carefully wrapped around a piece of lemon grass and deep-fried. Dipped into just a touch of sweet sauce and you could hear the “mmms” at our table. This dish is priced at 150 baht on the regular menu. Boneless, stuffed chicken wings were also served on the appetizer plate, and were a favorite, too. These are priced at 150 baht.

Next came a stew of pork and fresh vegetables, served with crusty fried Chinese bread. The pork was so tender that you could easily cut it with a spoon, and the broth was full and rich after stewing for about six hours. Esther describes this dish as “Straight from my Mummy’s kitchen.” and “Super yummy”. She’s right. We spooned the stew onto our rice, and then dipped the buns in the remaining sauce. It soon became apparent that there would be no leftovers. This dish is regularly priced at 200 baht.

A dish of panang chicken curry arrived. The chicken was cut into strips and cooked until tender; the sauce had just enough spice to be tasty and interesting. We quickly polished that dish off, too! The menu notes that the panang chicken is 120 baht. Tender pork ribs glazed with honey arrived, the sweet of the honey in nice contrast to the spice of the panang chicken.

Then came the fish. The cooking staff had carefully removed the delicate white meat from the fish, and then deep-fried the fish and the filets. The meat was cut into bite sized pieces and placed back onto the fish, topped with herbs and served. This is a dish to savor with a spicy sauce, and we did just that. Fish is priced at 250 to 300 baht each, depending on the market.

For many at our table, the mixed seafood served with lettuce was a highlight. You just spoon the seafood and vegetable mixture onto a piece of lettuce, add a touch of sweet soy sauce, and wrap it up. This dish is 250 baht when purchased separately.

Plates of fruit began arriving, and we found it to be sweet and fresh. The mango was incredible. But Esther Ping is known for her fabulous desserts, and those who love sweets were looking anxiously around the room. Surely there would be plates of chocolate or fruit cheesecake? Yes, indeed, there would. Each plate looked like a bakery advertisement with beautifully arranged delicacies to tempt all palates – chocolate, spice cake, fresh mango cheesecake, key lime pie. But these weren’t simply beautiful sweets; they were also absolutely delicious sweets. Our diners tried to be polite, but it was clear that we had found “True Love” at the River Ping Palace.

The River Ping Palace offers an abundance of vegetarian dishes. Its drink list is extensive, with sodas, fruit juices, beer and wine as well as mixed drinks available. Beer starts at 70 baht, sodas begin at 20 baht, coffees and teas start at 50 baht. Mixed drinks are priced at 120 baht each. Wine prices are determined by your choice of vineyards and vintages.

The River Ping Palace also caters and is available for special events. It’s a charming music venue, casual and relaxing in the evening.

The River Ping Palace, 385/2 Charoen Prathet Road, T. Changklan, Muang, Chiang Mai, 50100. Telephone 0 5327 4932. The River Ping Palace is open every day from 11 a.m. until 11 p.m. Email [email protected] yahoo .com. Limited parking inside the gate but ample parking on the street.