Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant

The once lovely lady is in need of a face-lift, and how fortunate she is to have found just the combination of people to put her into first class shape again. Nick Bauer, general manager, and Executive Chef Somchit are working together to develop a new menu, new style and new look for the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel. A special events calendar is in the making, with more to come for both the local and business traveler communities. I even heard and saw the telltale signs of a spa in the making as we left the Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant after a delicious, and creative meal. If your name isn’t on the hotel’s mailing list, it should be.

We dined with the chef and general manager. It isn’t often that one has the opportunity to dine with the chef, particularly a hands-on person like Chef Somchit, who explained the meal from procurement to presentation. We began with an assortment of dim sum. Shrimp, crab and pork dumplings, primarily steamed, were placed before us in bamboo containers. Condiments were arranged on the side. The seafood was fresh and light, and the dim sum satisfying. We were surprised to discover dim sum dumplings filled with fresh fruit among the dishes. Delightful.

Shark’s fin soup arrived bubbling hot in individual covered soup bowls. Revered in China for centuries, the chef told us that it is believed to promote health and retard aging. The shark’s fin is simmered in a rich broth for hours, and it thickens the soup and enhances the flavors of the other ingredients. The bubbling soup made a delicious presentation, and was rich and tasty. We scraped our bowls.

Deep fried soft shell crab arrived, a delicacy served in response to a casual comment from one of the guests. What a nice, crisp surprise! And then the Peking duck was brought tableside. The crisp skin was carved at the table and presented with sauce, green onions, cucumber sticks, and green rice flour crepes sprinkled with black sesame seeds. The Peking duck was a study in tasty contrasts - green and brown, crisp and soft, sweet and savory. Not a piece was left behind.

Chef Somchit described the next dish, baked snow fish from Alaska with his own X.O. sauce. The plate of fish was beautifully presented on top of the sauce. We were taken by the color of the fish, which was truly snow white. It was delicate, tender, and almost buttery in consistency. The sauce enhanced the flavor but did not cover its freshness. Not a scrap was left on the plate. Even our primary fish critic could find nothing to improve about this dish. The Dining Out team highly recommends it. Congratulations to Chef Somchit.

Our last dinner dish was fried rice Hokkien style served in a bamboo cup. This lovely rice was topped with vegetables and minced seafood, and we ate it hot out of the cup. It was a very nice way to end a fine meal. But Chef Somchit announced that he had prepared a light and very healthy dessert for us, and our attention immediately settled on the hot Chinese pears that were being set before us. The top had been sliced off of each cooked pear, and the center hollowed out. Some of the fruit had been cubed into tiny 0.5 cm cubes. Then the hot pear was filled with honey-sweetened juice of the pear and some of the cooked cubes. The top was replaced, and each pear was served in an individual dish. Named Chinese pear with swallow’s nest in hot syrup, this was a truly delicious dessert.

The service at the restaurant was very polite and pleasant. Fresh hot towels were brought and changed with each dish, and we ended up with cool, refreshing towels after dessert.

Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant is working hard to become fine dining, Chinese style, and with Chef Somchit and Nick Bauer leading the way, we have great confidence that it will be just that.

Gold Leaf Chinese Restaurant at the Imperial Mae Ping Hotel, 153 Sridonchai Road, Muang, Chiang Mai 50100. Open daily. Telephone 053-283-900. Reservations prudent. Ample parking in the hotel parking lot. If you want to be on their news mailing list, just write to maeping_ [email protected] ping.com