Hellís Kitchen

Gina Hahn
At one point in American civilization Hellís Kitchen in New York City was a hotbed of crime and corruption, lavish lobster and champagne dinners and gangster shoot Ďem ups. But Hellís Kitchen has been gentrified and the name is used many other ways now. Thereís a television cooking show of the same name, and restaurants featuring spicy food are borrowing it for fun. Take a trip around the moat to Chaiyaphum Road, and join us for a tasty visit to Hellís Kitchen Afro American Style Bar-B-Que. Youíll have delicious ribs and chicken with the traditional ďfixingsĒ that I remember so well from church and lodge dinners when I was growing up far, far from New York City.
Lateef Fahari was born in Cleveland, Ohio in the USA and grew up on his motherís and grandmotherís cooking. Youíll sample some of each when you visit his restaurant, and youíll be happy that those two ladies passed on a love of cooking to Lateef. He graduated from Ohio University, and then completed a masterís degree in public administration before spending a career in civil service with the U.S. government. His work sent him to Italy, Germany, Greece, Turkey, Qatar and Korea but he discovered Thailand along the way. And, like many people, he came back over and over again, finally settling in Chiang Mai after he retired.
Hellís Kitchen opened on May 14 and within a week Gina had received both emails and telephone calls telling her about it. The Dining Out team recently settled in to try out the food. We ordered rib and chicken dinners and a variety of side dishes Ė hot corn on the cob, potato salad, cole slaw, baked beans and fries. And we found some surprising tastes in old favorites. Lateef insists on cooking the meat he serves over charcoal, and he designed his own grill. He does not parboil the ribs. They are flavored with the charcoal smoke and a delicious sauce made from his grandmotherís recipe. His grandmother was from Tuskegee, Alabama, and her barbeque sauce is thick and sweet. No rubs are used, and the sauce is cooked into the meat. The bar-b-que rib dinner is priced at 140 baht and comes with two side dishes. The chicken dinner is priced at only 99 baht. Individual pieces of bar-be-qued chicken can also be ordered and are reasonably priced at 20 to 30 baht. Tender wings sell at five for 80 baht. The restaurant offers jumbo full racks of ribs at 280 baht, as well as kebabs and sandwiches.

The side dishes are unique and include a chunky bowl of cole slaw filled with vegetables and dressed with a mayonnaise-style sauce, sweet tender baked beans with a surprise ingredient, buttered corn on the cob, and sweet potato salad. Side dishes are priced from 15 to 35 baht per serving. The baked beans are prepared with small chunks of pineapple, Lateefís motherís specialty, and theyíre a nice variation from the pork and beans in a can that we so often encounter Ė and reject. The potato salad is made with sweet pickle, potatoes and chopped boiled eggs, giving the dish a sweet rather than savory flavor. For those who prefer Thai food, the restaurant offers Thai style ribs as well as stir-fried chicken with basil. Hellís Kitchen also offers a brunch dish of waffles and chicken with juice and coffee at 99 baht. Beverages include sodas, juices, coffee, beer and wine, all at reasonable prices. But donít miss the tender and tasty ribs. The sauce is good enough to bottle!
Hellís Kitchen Afro American Style Bar-B-Que, 70/19 Chaiyaphum Road, T. Chang Moi, Muang Chiang Mai. Open every day from 11 a.m. until 10 p.m. Open until midnight after June 1. Telephone 053-232-195, 04-732-7159. Take out and delivery in the neighborhood available. Proceed on Chaiyaphum Road. Just after Miguelís Mexican Restaurant, you will see a cross walk and stop light. A small parking area will be on your left, in front of a new shopping mall. Walk into the shopping mall past the Black Canyon Coffee shop, and you will spot Hellís Kitchen at the rear on your right. Not easy the first time, but well worth the adventure.