Dalaabaa - A Stylish Thai Restaurant: By Brian Baxter

A place to see - and be seen

There’s no point pretending that most tourists, long term visitors or even farang residents in Thailand are used to - or want - the hot, spicy food which Thais traditionally eat. Personally, I do, but the phrases ‘not too spicy’ or ‘mai ped, krab’, are those I hear more than most uttered in the Kingdom. That should not mean a diminution of either flavor or taste, still less of quality. And that’s where successful restaurants such as Dalaabaa come into their own.
This stylish, Lanna orientated eating place offers an exclusively Thai menu, but there’s little exotic or off putting to squeamish westerners. No chicken’s entrails, pork belly or spicy boiled frog, let alone - as I was recently offered - live insects battered into unconsciousness by the energetic shaking of the dish in which they were held. Nor a surfeit of those sneaky little red or green chili which have been know to silence even the Mail’s photographer for a few minutes.
Their menu offers a large range of dishes, including those such as a (spicy) shrimp salad with green mango (130 baht) which are skewed towards flavor rather than pungency. To balance the opinion of the cameraman and reviewer, I took along a Thai friend. He too enjoyed the meal.
We selected three starters and two main dishes, plus stir fried vegetables (80 baht) and steamed rice (15 baht a portion). In Thai fashion we ended up with all the food on the table at the same time. Luckily the tables are large. Two of the starters were recommended by the waitress: the Dalabite shrimps rolled with salmon (120 baht), which came with a welcome chili sauce and the ‘special’ spring rolls (95 baht). Plus the tuna salad, from which I have dropped the word spicy, with its particularly generous serving of fish.
For the mains, Nong selected a deep fried Talapia fish with Thai herbs. These dishes are priced according to weight at between 170 and 250 baht, and I would guess from the large serving plate, piled high with the pre cut fillets that this was an adult. The second selection was stir fried asparagus with shrimps and that was a highlight with a generous portion of that most delicious of all vegetables (130 baht).
We each downed a couple of beer Singh and certainly could not find room for anything from the small but tempting dessert menu, which offered such sweet temptations as deep fried banana with honey, coconut milk ice cream (80 baht) or the various fresh fruits in syrup (60 baht).
There were plenty of choices to be made from the well laid out menu. No less than 22 salads, a whole page of starters, including deep fried mushrooms in soy sauce, various fancier fish dishes including red snapper and salmon (250 baht up) and simpler offerings such as stir fried rice dishes beginning at 70 baht. Our total bill, including drinks and a tip, came to 1400 baht for the three.
The restaurant is quite large, dividing sensibly into two areas. An air-conditioned room, with about 60 covers, which leads to a large, partially covered terrace, offering perhaps a further 70 to 80 seats. Smoking is allowed there so Mr. Cameraman headed us in that direction and we found the pleasant background music aided and abetted by cicadas. None on the menu, though. We were told that there were also two private dining rooms.
As mentioned the tables are large and well spaced and are covered in bright red cloths, with the color echoed throughout including the outdoor parasols. Service is very efficient, if impersonal.
The restaurant has become well established over the past three years and is situated in the same street as the British Consulate and British Council offices and just across a bridge from the American Consulate. It is one of several eateries popular with ‘locals’ from the area and certainly knows how to cater for them and their guests. There were few Thais on the busy night we were there, but my friend was impressed to note that among them was a film actor and singing star, complete with entourage. Obviously then a place to see, as well as been seen.
Dalaabaa Restaurant 113 Burmungras Road, Watgate, Chiang Mai, 50000. Tel: 053 242 491.


Crab and herb omelette

This is an Indonesian dish known as ‘Telor dadar kepiting dan bumbu kebun’, but crab and herb omelette is easier. The herb is the Thai coriander and crab is easily found, and you can use tinned crab for this dish.

Cooking Method
Cut the crabmeat into small pieces, being careful to remove any shell. Mix with the chopped coriander and sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.
Lightly whisk the eggs, and add salt and pepper, sugar, ginger root and water.
In the wok, heat 2 tbspns of sunflower oil, and add half the egg mixture. Spoon on half the crab and herb mixture and cook slowly until the top of the omelette has cooked. Slide the ‘pancake’ off the wok.
Now cook the second half of the omelette mixture the same way.
Roll up the two flat omelettes and cut the roll diagonally into 2.5 cm strips, and serve on a warmed plate.

Ingredients                 Serves 4
Crabmeat                              225 gm
Eggs                                             5
Coriander, finely chopped     2 tbspns
Palm sugar                            1 tspn
Ground ginger root                 tspn
Sunflower oil                       4 tbspns
Water                                3 tbspns
Salt and freshly ground
black pepper to taste