Don’t read this…it’s a secret! : By Anton Ego

The vocabulary word of the week is “quandary”. Why did I choose this word you ask? Well, it’s because I have once again found myself in the midst of one. So first we must define the word and then I will explain.

Quandary -a state of uncertainty or perplexity especially as requiring a choice between equally unfavorable options.
What to do, what to do? You see I have found a little gem of a restaurant and I fear if I don’t share it then I might lose it. And if I do share it I might not get a table next time I go. As much as I would like to keep it my own little secret I am afraid that I must tell you about it or it will disappear like so many restaurants do these days. And if that happened it would be a great loss and I would spend far too much time mourning. So I find myself in this most awkward predicament and I have come to the conclusion that I must be forthcoming and let you in on my little secret.
My secret…is the White Room. I can’t count the number of times I have driven by the White Room. Yes, it has a small sign that boasts “Food & Drink” but it just didn’t grab me. I drove by and I drove by and finally for some unknown reason….I stopped. And after a number of visits I am still glad I did. The problem is that too many of you are still driving by and driving by. Do yourself a favor….STOP!
While it’s a nice thing to find a restaurant that offers good food in a friendly, comfortable environment, and where it’s still possible to walk in without reservations, even on a weekend. On every count — food, service and atmosphere — the White Room should be as hard to get into as any four star restaurant in town.
The only catch and probably one reason it’s so easy to get into is its location on a particularly quiet stretch of Charoenrat Road, possibly more commonly referred to as “the river road”. The restaurant sits directly opposite “The Bears Den” which in turn is right beside Rimping condominium. It’s a charming little place that I for one find very sincere. The restaurant offers a rather small but focused menu, and an attractive setting that make it a prime choice for eating.
In a world of million-dollar restaurants funded by a laundry-list of investors, the White Room is refreshingly small-time. It feels quite homey and I for one have had a feeling of comfort there from my first visit. Normally I find myself greeted by one of the friendliest waitresses I have ever seen. Her smile is a permanent fixture on her face. I can’t explain it but the service is just warm. This cute, romantic restaurant is practically a one-woman show. From the time she opens the doors she seems to be juggling the whole thing by herself. Oh, occasionally I catch sight of another person passing through and once I even saw a child peering at us from the stairway above, but generally this wonderful waitress is the only one you will see. She is attentive and helpful and her service is a big part of why I like the place.
But enough about the service….we must give kudos to the chef now. Though I have not had the pleasure of meeting her I know from the flyer I received that the chef is a lovely looking woman named Lek. Lek, it seems, is adept at cooking both western foods and Thai foods. I have visited with many a variety of friends and no matter which cuisine they order they have gone home happy and satisfied. Many of the dishes she’s created are so good they’re lodged in my memory, especially the mussels in a tomato based sauce. The sauce is delicious and doesn’t overpower the flavor of the seafood and the mussels are fresh with a great texture (90 baht). The salmon steak with herb butter (220 baht) was succulent and fresh and the steamed asparagus in vinaigrette is the perfect starter for my palate. Time after time, I’ll keep going back to crispy and delicious spring rolls (70 baht) and even the batter fried mixed seafood platter (190 baht) is better than most.
The customers trickle in. That’s just fine for the handful who have discovered this hidden gem; they can get a table quickly and settle in for some of Chef Lek’s marvelous food. But some things are too good to keep to yourself. Some might read this and think I have an interest in the venue but I assure you dear readers that my interest lies in keeping good restaurants open in our fair city.
Overall, eating at the The White Room is very satisfying, with a charming environment, hospitable staff and robust dishes in generous portions. Chances are, too, that you’ll leave with a belt that feels a little bit tighter. When I wanted to show a food-loving newcomer Chiang Mai, I brought him here…and I think given the chance you will do the same.
So there, I’ve done it! I’ve told my secret and I hope that if I go back and can’t find a seat maybe you’ll be gracious enough to let me join you……Bon Appetite!
The White Room is located at 252/1 Charoenrat Road near the NakornPing bridge. It is open daily from 11am-2pm and 6pm-10pm. Call 08-57114557 for information.


Spicy Oyster and Scallop Soup

This week’s recipe is for those who enjoy seafood. It is also a recipe for those who enjoy preparing dishes that ‘look’ expensive, but the clever shopper can make this very inexpensively. The secret is going to the local markets, and the small seafood stalls will be able to supply the scallops and oysters. It is also a very easy to prepare soup. It is not a quick soup, however, as it is necessary to let the soup stand to take on the subtle flavors. If you do not have a can of chicken soup, you can substitute 400 ml of chicken stock. It is a nice starter for any evening meal - and one that will impress your guests!

Cooking Method
Place scallops and butter in a saucepan and gently sauté for 2 minutes, adding the oysters after one minute. Remove scallops and oysters and set aside.
Place all remaining ingredients in the pan and simmer covered for 10 minutes. Allow to stand for 1 hour, then remove the bay leaf, add the seafood and bring up to heat and serve immediately.

Ingredients     Serves 2- 4
Scallops (shelled)            1 cup
Oysters (shelled)             1 cup
Butter                          1 tbspn
Chicken soup           400 ml can
Medium size red chilli (sliced) 1
Celery sliced                 1 stalk
Onion sliced                        ˝
Bay leaf                               1
Ginger finely chopped   1 tbspn
Lime juice from              1 lime