Riverside River Cruise

Gina Hahn

The Riverside Restaurant sprawls along the Ping River across from the Warorose Market, offering a mixture of architectural styles, wooden walkways and multi-level seating with up to three live bands playing on any evening. You may also hear a soft piano or a jazz duo if you go in the early evening. There’s music for all party tastes, and dancing.

But for those of you who prefer a quiet evening, a romantic evening of toasts and loving memories, go “Rolling on the River” on a Riverside River Cruise. Just reserve a spot on either of two cruise boats, order your choice of food and drink from the regular menu, and enjoy the view of Chiang Mai as you cruise up the river and back. The boat charge is 70 baht for adults, 35 baht for children, plus food. The cruise boats are also available to charter for special occasions. And set menus, if you want them, will make your special occasion simpler to plan. Lovely. The view of the river from the restaurant is also lovely, especially if you choose a table on one of the higher levels.

The Riverside offers both Thai and western food. The Dining Out Team’s choice on a recent evening was a menu of Thai delicacies finished with western desserts. We were not disappointed. The first plates were set before us, and we savored the delicious deep fried whole mushrooms with garlic sauce. This is the kind of dish that both Thai and western diners will enjoy while sipping a glass of wine and listening to music. It’s a dish of tasty nibbling food to be eaten with spoon, fork, or fingers. Priced at 75 baht, it is number 157 on the menu.

A word about the menu – it’s huge. There are over 500 items featured if you count both food and drinks, and that does not include the collection of set menus. Take your time looking it over. You’ll find something for everyone from western sandwiches to Thai som tum. Spicy items are rated by the number of chili peppers that accompany them, so diners are never disappointed to find a dish too spicy or too mild for their taste. And there are plenty of vegetarian dishes.

We loved the Riverside basket, which came next. This is an edible basket created of deep fried noodles, then filled with seafood and vegetables. We dipped deep into the basket and found hot seafood and a delicious sauce. Don’t miss this one. It was the favorite of several diners. You will find it as number 221, and it’s priced at 100 baht. Chicken satay with peanut sauce and a traditional cucumber salad arrived next. A little decorative chicken sat nested in lettuce on the plate as if to announce the delicious satay. No one could resist the roasted spareribs in honey, number 258, which arrived with traditional Thai som tom and steamed vegetables. Priced at a modest 150 baht, the spareribs were sweet, tender and tasty, and the som tum spicy. Then we were served a beautifully prepared and presented steamed whole serpent head fish accompanied by steamed vegetables, very fresh and tasty. While this dish requires extra preparation time, it is well worth the wait. Look for it as number263 on the menu, priced at 150 baht. The naam chim sauce served with it was excellent. The chef came out of the kitchen and spoke with us. Which dishes were our favorites? Every diner voted for the fish, but each of us also had other “favorites”, and no dish was left without a vote.

We completed our meal with a selection of desserts. The overwhelming favorite was the crunchy Chocolate Ecstasy. Suffice it to say, it was a big hit with the entire table. Priced at 110 baht, it served three diners.

By the way, we understand that the Riverside also offers a cooking school. Phone the restaurant for details. And enjoy your dinner.

The Riverside Bar and Restaurant, 9-11Charoen Rat Road, Chiang Mai 50000, telephone 0 5324 3239, fax 0 5324 2511, email river1 @loxinfo.co.th. Open daily from 10 a.m. until 1 a.m. Reservations should be made for large parties. Parking across the street.