Kungpao Suphunburi: By Brian Baxter

Super quality fish restaurant – at modest cost

This Thai restaurant is both easy and difficult to review. First, the short simple part. Kungpao Suphunburi offers superlatively fresh and well-cooked fish (and other food) in spacious -if inelegant- surroundings. The service is friendly and the prices are reasonable. There you have it. Most of what you need to know in a few words.

Given my allocation of space here comes the more difficult part. To persuade you that the journey is worthwhile, especially as they make few concessions to farangs with even the name printed only in Thai above the large front entrance. It refers to a province north of Bangkok (I am told) and the first part of the name means either grilled or barbecued prawns, which is their speciality.
It is to found a little way out of town, a few minutes along the Super Highway, in the first soi or street on the left immediately after the well signed Lanna Hospital – heading towards Lamphun. The actual location is about 250 meters on the right down that soi which is known as Lanna Hospital street. You may know it, since a little further down is the more well known Green Mile Restaurant. That’s also recommended, but this week may I urge you to stop before you get there.
The Kungpao is large and brightly lit and adjoins an open car park. It has two similar open eating areas separated by a grassy middle and joined by gravel walkways. The structure is simple with few concessions to fancy décor. The wooden tables are large and flanked by benches and can seat up to eight or ten people. You come here for the food, not linen napkins.
In case you wonder, there are meat dishes available. Such stalwarts as stir fried chicken with cashew nuts, deep-fried chicken and pork and beef dishes. No doubt they are as good as in any other Thai eatery and are probably worth trying if you are in a group. There is no wine available so best take your own (make it a screwtop) or settle for the inexpensive beer. Large Chang and Singha is just 60 baht, with Leo at 50. Juices are 25 baht, as are shakes, coconut milk and others.
The menu offers an English translation of most things and is quite extensive with one page devoted to a mixed bag of specials and ‘starters’, including deep fried fish patties (60 baht) and shrimps with vegetables (70 baht).
There are plenty of salads, including crispy fish, mixed seafood, grilled pork, grilled squid and the spicy tuna salad, which we opted for. They are all priced at around 60 baht. Other options include deep fried morning glory at 40 baht and stir fried vegetables in oyster sauce at 60 baht. There are also plenty of soups, including the classic Thai spicy varieties. Plain rice is just 10 baht a portion and there is a whole range of fancier options, mainly stir fried with fish or meat at 30 or 40 baht.
Not surprisingly, my companion and I went for the fish on offer, including one from the ‘prawn page’. On offer were variations such as those stir fried with yellow curry, roasted in butter, steamed with garlic (our choice at 120 baht) or the most popular, those grilled or barbecued and served with dipping sauces The Mail’s photographer was eating with a large group at another table and they enjoyed a veritable feast of those and declared them and the crab in yellow curry excellent.
Mote interesting are the fish – sea bass, Tub Tim and freshwater varieties – which come prepared in various ways and sauces, including Japanese, sweet and sour and lemon or with garlic and pepper, which was truly delicious. All fish are priced at 119 baht, regardless of how prepared.
We had a large Singha each and four dishes (plus rice) – some of which were packed up for taking away – and the bill for two came to 650 baht including a tip for the young waiters. On this visit, a Monday evening, it was quiet but it gets busy at the weekend. Even so parking and finding a table should present no problems. So there you have it. Why is that so difficult? Simply because I know from experience that many people want a restaurant on the doorstep and one which makes plenty of concessions to the western palate and other expectations. Certainly more than this restaurant does. However, I think once you have found it you may well become a regular.
Kungpao Suphununburi. .Lanna Hospital Soi, off Super Highway. Open from 15.00 hours until late, seven days a week.


Japanese Gourmet Chicken

This is another lightly done dish which takes only a few minutes to cook, but there is the downside - a couple of hours in the marinade. The easiest way to accomplish this is by using the plastic bags with a zip top (Ziploc). Use large ones, so that the meat is not all stuck together in the bag - the concept is to let all sides of the chicken meat to come in contact with the marinade. The original recipe calls for Japanese rice wine (sake), but Thai rice wine (sato) can be used.

Cooking Method
Place chicken breasts in a Ziploc bag. In a bowl, mix the Soya sauce and sake to make the marinade and pour into bag, seal and place in refrigerator for two hours, before removing from bag. In a heavy based pan, heat the butter and vegetable oil and sauté the chicken breasts for two minutes. Turn down the heat and pour in the marinade and simmer for four minutes, turning the chicken breasts frequently until they are cooked properly and then remove and drain. Now add the bell pepper and sauté quickly.
Arrange chicken breasts on a plate and garnish with sliced, sautéed bell pepper.

Ingredients                 Serves 6-8
CChicken breast fillets                   1 kg
Light soya sauce                      1/2 cup
Sake (or sato)                          1/3 cup
Butter                                    1 tbspns
Vegetable oil                          2 tbspns
Green bell pepper sliced                     1