Comedara (Colonial House)

Gina Hahn
Gina and the Dining Out Team had a nice surprise this week. We enjoyed a lovely Thai dinner accompanied by live music – both American and Thai oldies – and followed by a tour of an architecturally significant old house that has become an art gallery. And it was all in one location, The Comedara, also known as The Colonial House. We had noticed the construction of the open-air restaurant in front of the old home on the river, then the opening of the restaurant. The cool Chiang Mai evening encouraged us to venture out, and we decided to investigate. We were not disappointed.
The restaurant, located on the east side of the Ping River near the Nakornping Bridge, has a small parking area just in front. A very skilled security guard directed us into the parking place and out again, helpful on busy Charoenrat Road. We chose a table outside but seating is also available inside the graceful old home. The house is not air-conditioned – no problem with our cool weather. Fans are abundant should the evening be warm. Private dining rooms are also offered.
The menu is quite large, and is filled with northern Thai specialties. If fried bamboo worms are to your taste, you’ll feel right at home. But if, like Gina, you’d just as soon not get quite so up close and personal with these life forms, other Thai food is available in abundance.
The menu includes plenty of photographs of the food, and describes it in both Thai and English. There is a separate drinks menu with plenty of fruit juices and smoothies, soft drinks, beer, and the largest listing of mixed drinks that we have seen in Thailand. If a Singapore Sling or a Gin Fizz is to your liking, it’s here with many, many others. Mixed drinks cost about 140 baht each.
We began our meal with a mango smoothie (70 baht) made with yogurt and topped with whipped cream. The drinks were well presented and creamy delicious. We savored the sweetness while we waited on our food. Our wait was not long, and chicken and snow peas were soon put before us with plates of rice. The rice, tinted a pale greet to match the dishes, was served shaped into hearts. The snow peas were sweet and crisp in contrast to the tender chicken. Pomelo salad arrived, fresh and spicy, followed by soft shell crab curry and catfish salad with spicy som tom. The Thai dishes were priced from 30 to 140 baht, but most of the main dishes cost about 80 baht. This is a very affordable restaurant. The soft shell crab curry was Gina’s favorite, however her roommate is a connoisseur of catfish salad and pronounced this one of the best.

Throughout our dining experience, we enjoyed live music performed by the house musician. He sang our favorite “oldies”, and not so loudly that we couldn’t talk, then he sang to the Thai people who had joined us at nearby tables. Most of the music in the restaurants along the river is performed at top decibel level, so this was a pleasant surprise.
We tried two timeless Thai sweets - sticky rice and mango and fried bananas with ice cream. A few bites into either, and we were reminded why these desserts are so popular. Just as we put our spoons down, our waitress invited us to tour the old house and see the art gallery.

The graceful old house is 80 years old, the former home of the Kunurak family. The family is featured in a 1934 photograph in the gallery. The house was built on three levels, the rooms generous in size, and there are many porches surrounding the rooms. Cross ventilation was maximized for river breezes, and you can almost envision the big family at work and play. Now the rooms are filled with local art, some serious, some humorous, and patrons were considering the merits of several large pieces as we walked through. It’s a lovely place to spend an evening.
Comedara, the Colonial House Restaurant, 193 Charoenrat Road, T. Watgate, near the Nakornping Bridge. Open daily, lunch and dinner. No reservations necessary. 053-248-751/2, Fax 053-248-754.