Minstrels with the meal: By Epicurean

The best time to turn up at Eung Phung Chan Phaa is about 7.15 pm, when a band of minstrels roam the restaurant serenading guests at their candlelit tableside, with a repertoire of country sounds and bluegrass. This talented band of players know how to wind their fingers around a guitar, ukulele, fiddle and double bass, so sit back and enjoy an aperitif as they strum out Eagles and Glen Campbell numbers.
Eung Phung Chan Phaa has a tree lined entrance that leads into a large barn-like dining area constructed on two levels. An army of attentive waiters and waitresses are on hand to provide the best of service, and the musical quartet can still be heard a hooping and a hollering from somewhere far off long after moving away from your table.
When it comes to choosing something to eat, the menu at Eung Phung Chan Phaa has something to satisfy most peoples’ taste. Starters include noodles with hot basil leaves, minced beef or pork, or try them in dark soy sauce. Soups can be taken to begin the meal or eaten as part of the main course, with Thai mixed seafood, dry fish with chili, squid, beef, chicken and serpent’s head all on offer.
Once the minstrels have completed their rounds, a trio on keyboard and two guitars takes the stage to complement the food with Thai folk renderings and some western ballads.
By now, diners can be tucking into a mixed grill, chicken and cashew nuts, roasted dry beef or a plate of hor d’euvres – hot or cold. While the more adventurous might sample pork’s appendix with garlic and pepper, boiled steamed fish stomach, fried frog or green mussels.
It’s best to mention here that Eung Phung Chan Phaa has two menus – one in English and the other Thai – so it might be advisable to have someone around who can read the vernacular. Meals that appear on both menus cost the same, but the Thai one has more to choose from, and the pla chon mai mee gaang – boneless fish – is not to be missed.
A selection of beers on the list comprises bottles of Leo and Kloster, plus Singha bottled and draught. Apart from Thai brands of whiskey, Johnny Walker Black Label, Ballantine’s Finest and Jack Daniels are also available, and there is Spy Cooler for the ladies and Hennessy Brandy to help the food go down. For those on the wagon, there is a choice of fruit juices, soft drinks, tea and coffee.
A full meal at Eung Phung Chan Phaa need not hurt the pocket, as dishes of generous portions range from Bt45 to Bt300. On average, a satisfying dinner for 3 including 2 large beers and a Spy Cooler could come to as little as Bt700.
At 10 pm, when the meal winds down and the music revs up, the folk song trio makes way for a 5 piece band, which beats to the rhythm of more contemporary music and a few golden oldies.
Eung Phung Chan Phaa opens from 5 pm to late and is located at 69 Kankrongchonprathan Road, Chiang Mai (near Chiang Mai University). It might be a little difficult to find, especially as the sign outside is in Thai, but should you get lost just ring 053 400505.