Red Sun – more than just a restaurant: By Danny B.

Country and Western music - Thai Style

Journalists are not normally lost for words, but I must confess that I don’t quite know how to define Tawan Dang (Red Sun), a fun place I visited again last week.
Is it a restaurant? Well yes… they serve decent Thai food from an extensive menu. Is it a concert venue? They offer spectacularly good Thai country and western music every night from a whole host of energetic musicians. Is it a bar? You’d better believe it (whiskey starts at 275 baht a bottle and draft beer Singha is around 120 baht a jug). Is it a disco? Thai style yes, as the evening wears on the dancing and movement spreads around the tables with customers mingling and chatting and enjoying the music.
So it is all these things and something more – an authentic, noisy and vibrant slice of Thai night life which should be seen and heard at least once since you will be hard put to find its like in Thailand or elsewhere. The seating capacity is huge. Last Monday we joined a crowd of perhaps 300 and there was plenty of room for double that number, possibly more.
You will find it off Nimmanheiman Road, on the right hand side (Soi 6) heading from Rimcome junction towards CMU. It’s about half a kilometer down at the Kad Chuueng Doi market, which doubles as a huge car and motor bike park in the evenings surrounded by bars, shops and biggest of all the brightly lit Tawan Dang country style pub and restaurant. They open around 7pm but you’ll feel very lonely before 9pm. They close at 2am.
The menu is almost exclusively Thai, although there’s an odd section which gives a clue to the character of Red Sun. Called simply ‘Sausages’, it includes the usual Chiang Mai varieties and one marked German style. Plus knuckle of pork (270 baht) and other dishes aimed at those who would feel at home in a Bier Keller. So there you have it, a Thai version of a Munich beer hall – except that here the customers are considerably slimmer.
Some of the food is illustrated, the extensive drinks menu and some pages are in English so you should not have any trouble ordering. But going with some Thai friends will double your pleasure and help you to adjust to the special atmosphere. There are plenty of appetizers should you just want to turn up late and use it as a bar with snacks, which include cashew nuts and French fries, chicken wings (110 baht) and Thai fish cakes and other easy to eat offerings.
There is an attractive salad section including Morning Glory and Wing Bean salads among others at between 100 and 150 baht. Stir fried vegetable in oyster sauce or in batter. After that the sky is the limit with plenty of soups, some arriving in metal containers with candles below so that the raw side vegetables can be added as you wish. Similarly a delicious steamed fresh water fish came in a similar container with a spicy sauce.
There is a slight bias towards the south of the Kingdom, but the food is mainly conventional Thai, plentifully and quickly served. It is not - I must be honest - the main reason for going.
You go for the experience. Red Sun is just that. With its huge portraits of ‘revolutionaries’ including Marx and John Lennon adorning the walls and a 12 strong band it seeks to be a show place, a bar, a dance hall, an eatery with an atmosphere that is totally unthreatening. Adapt to the noise level and sit back and enjoy.
We went as a group for a birthday party and the cost for some 25 people with plenty of food and more than an ample sufficiency of drinks, alcoholic and soft came to just 10.000 baht or 400 a person taking into account a 15% discount for cash rather than a credit card. Not your every day place so next week a review of another restaurant in the same area which is both conventional and exceptional.


Grilled Japanese Chicken

This is a traditional Japanese dish (Yakitori), but all the ingredients are available here, even the sake. The chicken is BBQ’d several times, with steeping in a marinade in between. The sugar and ginger gives the chicken a very different taste, almost caramelizing the outer surface. You can select large chicken thighs, or even skinless chicken breasts and make it closer to a grilled chicken satay (gai yang), Japanese style.

Cooking Method
Wash chicken thighs, wipe dry and insert skewers along the bone. Or if using chicken breast, make 12 skewers from bite-sized pieces. Cook over a charcoal BBQ or under the grill until partially cooked.
Mix sake, soya sauce and sugar and pour into a wide flat bowl. Lay chicken skewers in the marinade for five minutes, then turn over and leave for another five minutes.
Return to the BBQ and cook for two minutes each side. Then return to the marinade and repeat the marinade process. Now complete the final BBQ grilling while brushing the remaining marinade over the chicken, to produce a dark shiny glaze. Sprinkle with the powdered ginger.
Shred the cucumber and sprinkle with salt and serve the chicken skewers on small plates and garnish each with a mound of cucumber.

Ingredients                    Serves 4-6
Chicken thighs                                    12
or Chicken breast fillet                  250 gm
Sake                                             1 cup
Dark soya sauce                            1 cup
Sugar                                         120 gm
Powdered ginger                         4 tspns
Cucumber                                  2 small
Salt to taste
Skewers                                           12