Chiang Mai now has two Dukes: By Mr. La Fourchette

Is there enough business in Chiang Mai to support two The Duke’s restaurants’? Apparently the investors think so!
The original The Duke’s which is located along the Chiang Mai-Lamphun Road, beside the Ping River caters mainly for local residents and occasional movie stars such as Sylvester Stallone who had been spotted several times eating up a storm during his recent stay in Chiang Mai.

The original Duke’s has been successful as a moderately priced restaurant since the first day it opened about 2 years ago.
This can be attributed to several factors that are essential in a value for money eatery. The quality of the food is consistent, it is delicious and the servings are very, very generous. Myself, a regular, but also many of my friends sometimes wonder how this restaurant can serve such good quality beef yet when the “check bin” check in Thai is brought to the table nobody finds it hard to pull his wallet out. As busy as it can be for lunches or dinner one can always find a convenient parking space, great during the wet season.
The new Duke’s in the night bazaar area at 145 Changklan Road next to McDonalds caters mainly to tourists as David, the manager and one of the investors told me on a recent visit. The concept is the same and the menu offers some new items not offered at the original branch. The popular items such as the fall of the bone ribs, the hamburgers, huge salads and steaks are on offer at the new locale. The prices are a bit higher also. David’s justification for this is that the rent for the night bazaar premises is much higher and the ingredients used there are a bit more sophisticated.

For example, the white pizza - I think this is the only restaurant in Chiang Mai offering one - has four different cheeses mixed together in order to create a balance in texture, moistness and flavor. The combination produces a mouthwatering creation despite the absence of tomato sauce (that’s why it is called white pizza!). The restaurant has an indoor brick wood oven and like the kitchen itself it is in open view for all the diners to keep an eye on the food preparations.
Free parking is available on the roof of the building. A small road (soi) located immediately after the restaurant’s main entrance that leads you up to the parking area.
A ticket is issued by the security guard as you drive in but don’t forget to have the staff validate the ticket on the way out.
I ordered a Greek white pizza (Baht 185) and a German Paulaner dark beer (Baht 150). About ten minutes after I placed my order the pizza was served. It was pleasantly presented with sun-dried tomatoes and black and kalamata olives contrasting with the color of the cheeses and the pale green chunks of artichoke hearts. The aroma of the baked dough and the melting cheeses made me salivate and I was ready to stop any conversation or distraction and concentrate on my pizza.
I have been told and found it to be true, that when you concentrate on the chewing process while eating and allow your mind to unify itself with the total experience, the pleasure is intensified ten folds.
I took a bite on my still hot pizza; the cheeses melted in my mouth, dripped over my lower lip and onto the plate. I licked my lips and savored the crunchiness of the artichoke hearts and the sourness of the sun-dried tomatoes. It was sheer ecstasy. Before I swallowed the last bite of my pizza, I passed my forefinger over my plate and collected the falling cheese. I could not waste any.
The waiters and waitresses were polite, attentive, friendly and multilingual.
How could one grade or measure an eating experience? I believe that the urgency of the desire to go and repeat that same experience is a sound point of reference and certainly I am eager to return. In fact, I may well have a white pizza once a week at The Duke’s as part of my weekly schedule.
The new The Duke’s is located at 145 Changklan Road and is open daily for lunch and dinner. Tel. 053-818-603.

Fish with Spicy Mushroom Sauce

This is another variation on the type of dish in the classic European style of cooking, but now with a little Oriental flavor. You can add more chilli sauce if you want to spice it up a little more, but just a little!

Cooking Method
Heat oil and butter in frying pan. Season the fish fillets with salt and black pepper and then cook for 2-3 minutes on each side until light brown, reduce heat to low and cook a further 4 minutes, turning once. When fillets are cooked cover and keep warm in preheated oven.
While fish is cooking, trim and slice shallots, peel and finely chop garlic, chop coriander and clean and slice mushrooms. Add spring onions, garlic and mushrooms to pan and fry over moderate heat until softened.
Stir flour into pan and cook for 1 minute, add stock and bring to boil. Cook mushroom sauce for two minutes, reduce the heat, add cream, parsley, coriander, chilli sauce and mustard and stir well. Return the fillets of fish to the pan and heat gently for 2-3 minutes.

Ingredients Serves 4
Olive oil 1 tbspn
Butter 1 tbspn
Fish fillets 4
Salt and black pepper
Shallots chopped 4
Garlic 2 cloves
Button mushrooms 350 gm
Coriander fresh chopped 2 tbspns
Flour 1 tbspn
Chicken stock 150 ml
Chilli sauce 1 tspns
Pouring cream 50 mls
Dijon mustard 2 tspns