DINING OUT - ENTERTAINMENT

Vietnamese discovery

By Epicurean
Thin shafts of sunlight filter down mystically through an overhead web of leaf-laden branches and, lined by lush green shrubs and earthenware lanterns, cobbled stone pathways wind their way through a thicket of bushes and tall trees.

Past occasional clearings that reveal white wooden salas decked out for dinner, Le Gong Kum Restaurant waiting to be found - melts into a foreground of dense undergrowth, where flowers smell, and mynah birds sing when they’re not squawking greetings in English and Thai.
Set in these tranquil surroundings just off Huay Kaew Road, this Lanna-styled eatery arguably serves the best Vietnamese food in Chiang Mai. There’s the choice of consuming it in a cozy dining room or under the shade of the trees, or beneath the night sky, with the glow from a lantern glimmering through the foliage.
Dozens of dishes are delicately prepared and light in nature, even when stir fried. So, why not start off with cha gio tom a fried Saigonese spring roll filled with shrimps, transparent noodles and aromatic herbs or soup bub gua made from sweet corn, button mushrooms and scallops. And not to be missed - Vietnam’s traditional pho, a beef noodle that derived from Hanoi more than 100 years ago and the most garlicky flavored fried rice in town.
Try vit quay spicy Vietnamese roast duck with sticky rice balls - or thit kho paddy field pork in curry paste. And for desert, banh troi nuac sweet rice dumplings in ginger syrup or che chung nuoc dua a combination of nut paste with coconut cream – or simply finish off with Vietnamese coffee.

For beverages, Le Gong Kum offers a wide range of juices that includes lemon grass, ginger, tamarind, coconut and crushed ice with oriental fruit. Beer and whisky are also available and diners wanting wine can bring their own. There is no corkage charge.
Eating at Le Gong Kum Restaurant is inexpensive, no dish on the menu is priced over Bt150 - and it is possible to enjoy a majestic meal for two for as little as Bt500.
On a post meal stroll through the shrubbery, surprises wait in every crook and cranny - clay people and animals on an earthenware farm, a collection of hill tribe dolls, a photo display of Chiang Mai in the 60s, and tucked away in a leafy glade, the Suan Doi House Mini Art Gallery.
Small lounges in unique designed - are spread around the premises, or take a good book to the library a typically wooden Thai building on stilts, with cushions to recline on and a panoramic view of the gardens.
And for those who don’t want to leave, nicely decorated rooms fitted with Lanna-styled furniture are available at the adjoining Suan Doi House.
Le Gong Kum and Suan Doi House are located 5 minutes drive from downtown Chiang Mai at 38/3, Soi Charntrasup, Huay Kaew Road just past Hillside Condo 4, Chiang Mai 50300. The kitchen is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and it can be contacted by telephone on 053 221869 or 053 406091 or fax 053 221 869. Don’t forget to bring mosquito repellant!