Nasi Jumpru : By Farrah Praisal

A work of art!

Art as food! It’s a craze I witnessed in San Francisco in the eighties but I had really yet to see in Chiang Mai. Oh, maybe a touch here and there at venues like “Le Crystal” or “The House” but nothing in a casual atmosphere with prices for the average diner. There was some success in San Francisco in the genre, with truly creative chefs at restaurants like “Flying Saucer” and “Café Kati” but on the whole it turned out to be presentation over taste. This is not the case with Nasi Jumpru in the JJ Market a few blocks down from the Superhighway. After numerous visits over the past year the venue has proven to be consistent and innovative with unique and delicious combinations unlike any I have come across in our fair city.

Mister Noom, the owner, explained that the name is in fact Indonesian and means “a mixing of foods”…and that it is indeed! The dining room is colorful with only four tables inside and another four outside.
Chef Pui possesses a highly personal fusion style that is reflected in every plate that comes out of his tiny kitchen. The arrangements are fanciful, and the combinations of ingredients are imaginative. He seems to have a penchant for mixing fruits with meats and seafood to create a truly mouth watering taste treat.
The restaurant has a substantial menu with a healthy selection of appetizers, soups, salads and entrees. I would best describe the cuisine as Thai fusion. Now the word fusion in the food world has been used and abused over the last two decades to signify anything that is not pure or anything that can not be neatly classified into a traditional cuisine. In this case, that definition fits pretty well. While the basic ingredients are certainly Thai, I can detect the influence of Vietnamese, Indonesian and even western styles in the chefs beautiful creations.

Among the appetizers for instance is a ham and cheese spring roll which is literally ham and cheese rolled up and deep fried in a traditional spring roll wrapper and served with a honey style dipping sauce. Sounds crazy huh? Don’t knock it until you try it.
One of my personal favorites is a clear soup with a plethora of fresh vegetables and a taste sensation hidden inside. Chef Pui has painstakingly removed the pit from fresh longan and stuffed the center with shrimp. The explosion of flavor is wondrous and though I have tried to duplicate the recipe at home I have not been able to match the flavors accomplished in his kitchen.
Another favorite is the breaded prawns covered in tamarind sauce. The dish has a whimsical bent, with bizarre plate presentations that immediately made my friends smile. The breading is consistently crisp, never soggy and the sauce is sweet but not too sweet for a delectable taste combination. This dish is one of several that I call “vertical food”. The kitchen has creatively stacked the food and topped it again with deep fried wisps of noodles and garnishes to make a combination that is electric and the arrangements look like art on a plate.
Part of the joy of visiting Nasi Jampru aside from eating the food is just sitting and watching plates come out of the kitchen. Because the menu is extensive, and because I have favorites, I have yet to try even half the dishes on offer. I enjoy seeing the little pallets come out of the kitchen and try to remember them for next time, or sometimes even to try to identify what they are. Some are quite elaborate and competition on the plate is always keen, but the end result is impressive.
The servers are not exactly the best English speakers but they serve with such zeal and desire to please that it doesn’t matter. I have always felt that a genuine smile makes up for a lot in the service industry and you will find that at Nasi Jumpru. The food can tend to come out of the kitchen unevenly and it’s not unusual for several diners to have food while several do not. Some would grow impatient at the wait between courses, but when food lifts your spirits, what more can you ask? I for one prefer my food is delivered when it’s hot and fresh as opposed to sitting under a heat lamp waiting for the other dishes to finish. Besides that, the food here is all appropriate for sharing and with such innovative creations everyone will want a taste.
With such creativity flowing from the kitchen I was a bit surprised (and sad) that the chef has paid almost no attention to desserts with only some fresh fruit and one traditional Thai sweet on offer but I guess if that is not his strong suit perhaps best to leave it at that.
Being the first restaurant for this creative duo, they certainly should be proud of their achievement in creating a unique and delicious addition to the Chiang Mai dining scene. The restaurant is open every day for lunch and dinner. Reservations are accepted and they do cater.
Nasi Jumpru is located in the JJ Market shopping mall at 44 Assadathorn Road just across from Tesco Lotus and 2 blocks south of the Superhighway. Open daily from 10:30-15:30 and 16:30-22:30. Call 053-231518 for information and directions.


14 minute Cantonese Scrambled Eggs

It was rather difficult to find a recipe with 14 ingredients for the 14th anniversary, so a recipe with a 14 minute combined preparation and cooking time will have to do! The Cantonese scrambled eggs are much more flavorsome than the usual British style. You can also add chopped capsicum (bell pepper).

Cooking Method
Lightly beat the eggs and add the sugar, sesame oil, the light and dark soy sauces, ginger syrup, scallions, chicken stock and salt to taste.
Now heat the groundnut oil (or sunflower oil) in the wok, moving the wok to cover the sides with the oil. Add the egg mixture and stir-fry until it has just set. Do not overcook, or the eggs will go rubbery.
Serve immediately on a warmed dish with some chopped coriander leaf garnish.

Ingredients     Serves 4
Eggs                                 4
Sugar                        1 pinch
Sesame oil                2 tspns
Light soy sauce          1 tspn
Dark soy sauce          1 tspn
Ginger syrup              1 tspn
Chopped scallions             6
Chicken stock          150 ml
Salt                         1 pinch
Groundnut oil         2 tbspns