Café de Nimman - a byword for consistency
: By Danny B.
“Food so good it’s addictive’
Last week I reviewed a large, noisy Thai
pub-restaurant. Located off the Nimmanheiman Road and make
no apology for moving about a kilometer further towards CMU
on that same busy street to visit another venue which offers
an entirely different dining experience.
Café de Nimman has a clever advertising slogan, ‘Food so
good it’s addictive’. There is an element of truth in that
emphatic statement since I am somewhat hooked on the place
and return there regularly with a wide variety of people all
of whom have enjoyed the experience. It has a number of
virtues, of which more later, but let me offer the main one
immediately. The food is consistent – both in presentation
and quality. How many restaurants in Chiang Mai do you know
that never let you down?
I have no idea just how many food and drink outlets there
are on and around the sois of that immensely busy road
between those of the Amari Hotel until it gives way to the
park and various CMU buildings and the final little café at
the Art Gallery. If you tried one a day from the stalls,
coffee shops and wine bars right through to the up-market
Lanna Restaurant or La Gritta I reckon you’d be well into
the forthcoming leap year before you finished.
Then, of course, you would need to start over rather like
painting the Golden Gate Bridge since there are new eateries
opening or changing style and ownership every day and as I
write, The Maze (version two) is nearing completion and very
smart it looks too. Other less successful enterprises
meanwhile are hungrily looking for potential new owners -
but not, I suspect, Café de Nimman.
This is not, despite the name, a café but a fully fledged
Thai restaurant divided into three sections: an inner,
enclosed area which resembles a café, a larger open area and
a narrow verandah, which is the place I opt for. The actual
location is just off the main drag at the complex known as
ROOMS (opposite the night club Warm Up) with its art shops,
the Doi Chang coffee shop and the elegant Glass Onion wine
bar. There is parking just off the main road and at the rear
of the complex.
So far, so good. It is easy to find, reasonably spacious
with about 50 covers and offers a huge menu of Thai food at
reasonable prices. Before the food let’s look briefly at the
liquid refreshments since that offers my one criticism of
the restaurant. The house wine is drinkable but comes in
minuscule portions representing poor value. Go for the
bottles if you fancy wine or head for the beers, or the many
soft options or bottled water at 15 baht. There are teas and
coffees on offer but you might fancy crossing the narrow
walkway and head for Doi Chang for a change of venue and
Two friends and I opted for beer Singh (110 baht for the
large bottle) and decide to try a couple of starters while
we looked though the exceptionally well laid out menu which
comes in Thai and English in a variety of sections. We
ordered the appetizers first so as to avoid confusion. These
were seaweed and prawn toasts and vegetable samosas, taken
from a wide selection priced at 60 to 110 baht.
There are 40 salads on offer (including two for western
palates – Caesar and ham) with most of them variations on a
spicy theme. There are a further 40 one dish options from
Pad Thai and various fried rice, spaghetti and noodle
dishes. There are plenty of curries and soups, including
spicy pork leg soup (180 baht) and an emphasis on New
Zealand green mussels which appear in various guises from
appetizers through to main course.
We selected a Tabtim fish cooked with Thai herbs (160 baht),
also available in other ways, including black pepper and
Also stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce and an
adventurous omelet. A prawn dish with noodles and Ma-Ma,
Chinese style plus a large bowl of steaming rice completed
the meal. With three beers it came to 900 baht including a
tip to the helpful waitresses.
Oddly, despite this really extensive menu, there are only
three puddings on offer for dessert, including tiramisu but
no ice creams or sorbets, although there is a mysterious
sounding ice on bread which we passed on. Unsurprisingly it
gets busy, especially mid evening. We arrived at around 8:30
and opted for an aperitif at the Glass Onion until a table
became available. No hardship in that.
Café de Nimman is one restaurant that seems to be keeping
its head well above the buoyant waters of the main road,
whilst many around it are losing theirs. Hopefully gimmick
free concentration on value and quality are always likely to
be in fashion. Next week a complete change of location and a
stab at luxury dining.
Chinese Chicken with Ginger
A very simple traditional Chinese dish that is a world favorite. Simple to
prepare (10 minutes) and simple to cook (10 minutes), and all the ingredients
are available locally. If you cannot find Chinese rice wine, then use sherry.
Remove any skin from the chicken breast fillets and
then slice thinly and dry on a towel. Set aside
Heat the oil in the wok and cook the onion until transparent, then add the
ginger root and garlic, stirring well. Now add the chicken, rice wine, sugar,
honey, both soy sauces and ginger syrup. Bring back to the boil and continue
until the liquid is reduced by half, and then transfer to a pre-warmed serving
plate and sprinkle with spring onion as the garnish. Serve with steamed rice.
Chicken breast fillet
Onion finely chopped
Ginger root, fresh finely grated 2 tbspns
Garlic finely chopped
Chinese rice wine
Light soy sauce
Dark soy sauce
Spring onion chopped 1 as garnish