Six of the Best : By Brian Baxter

Some recommended Thai restaurants in Chiang Mai

It’s that time of the year: lists of the best movies, best books and so on. So why not just a few of the good Thai eateries that have featured in the Mail during the past months? All offer excellent, tasty food within the low to mid price range – between 150 baht and 400 baht, say, including a beer or glass of wine and a tip. No really fancy restaurants and no little hideaways that serve super food but are not really a ‘dining out’ experience.

Most of the following have a predominantly Thai clientele, although The Gallery, because of its location and proximity to other good restaurants such as The Good View and The Riverside, attracts more visitors. Ney Ney, on the other hand, as well as being the least expensive and one of the best for food and the cheapest is mainly Thai. The rest have a slightly more ‘middle class’ following, youngish locals who appreciate the sensible prices whilst enjoying the stylish surroundings. Visiting Maze 1 again the evening before writing this article I found myself the only farang amongst perhaps 30- 40 Thais. The food was tasty and ‘mai paeng’. It simply tells me that they know what’s good.
The list is alphabetical. Hopefully it will be useful during this season of holiday visitors.
Café de Nimman. This is far more than a café and offers a really wide-ranging menu, even sporting a few ‘European’ offering plus pizzas. But forget those in favor of the large selection of Thai dishes, including a few based around their ‘speciality’ – New Zealand green mussels. Three small areas, the interior ‘café’, the terrace and the main outside dining room. An easy going place as befits the location at the Rooms complex, on Nimmanhaeminda Road, just before the park and CMU buildings on the left heading from Rincome junction.
Unpretentious and deservedly popular.
The Gallery. A large restaurant, which also boasts an attractive shop with Thai silks and many items and an adjacent bar, which serves food and has regular jazz evenings. The main restaurant has an interior terrace and then a main section within the garden overlooking the Ping River. Lanna orientated food is served in generous portions by an amiable if impersonal staff. They also have a good selection of wines and cater for the many tourists who visit the area. But this does not detract from the authentic food and the relaxed atmosphere, which makes it an ideal place to take your more conventional visitors. Open until late at 25 Chareowat Road.
The Green Mill. Although listed here with Thai restaurants, which essentially it is, this might be described as offering fusion food since they have excellent pastas and many other choices, including superb quality grilled fish. A fairly quiet restaurant, ideal to enjoy a meal a deux or with a group of friends, it has a wine shop outlet so you have a huge choice to go with the meal or to takeaway, or you may, of course, choose from the menu. There is also a CD and DVD shop to one side. Very civilized personal service from the owner –chef team and their polite staff. Find it on the left of Lanna Hospital soi, about a kilometer down the road, which is immediately after the large, well lit hospital sign on Super Highway.
Maze 1 and 2. Identical menus and style of presentation, each with music after 9.30pm. They describe themselves as simply modern Thai and offer a wide range of food (plus a few pastas and ice creams) that is really tasty at surprisingly low prices. The atmosphere is very ‘laid back’ and the friendly service can be mildly erratic. They each have an outside eating area, although the interiors are quieter since both are on busy roads. Maze 1, which opens at 9.30 in the morning is on Boomruangrat Road, about 400 meters before Chiang Mai Ram Hospital. Maze 2 is between soi 8 and 10 on Nimmanhaeminda Road, at the Vien Ping condo. Opens 10.30a.m.
Mo’C Mo’L. This reminds me somewhat of a large French brasserie, with its bustling atmosphere and spaciousness. As well as the main restaurant (divided into an interior and a large balcony area) there is an adjacent bar with live music (sound proofed) and a large café at the entrance. Ample parking is thankfully provided since this is a very busy place, located on Huay Kaew Road, about 300 meters after Canal Road, just before the CMU. The menu is large, including Japanese and some European food, with a wide choice of Thai dishes and a vast drinks menu. Bright and lively – ideal for your younger guests.
Ney Ney. Last but by no means least, the bustling and friendly open restaurant on the corner of Soi Taewan and Super Highway about 200 meters before Grand View Hotel heading for Rincome. The tables and chairs are fairly basic and it can be a little noisy near the (excellent) musicians but the food is served promptly and cheaply. The young staff work hard and if you want to take a group of friends to a cut above the really ‘local’ Thai restaurant this would certainly be a good choice. Beer is served in towers, jugs or by glass and is a justifiably popular choice thanks to its really low price. Excellent. I can’t wait to go back here or to any of the above.
Next week a half dozen of the best Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai.


Two Oysters for Xmas

With all the festive season parties, here are a couple of oyster recipes to lift your party fare above the usual cocktail sausages and ketchup. Both are easy to prepare and you can buy fresh shelled oysters at the local markets.

Cooking Method
Pre-heat oven to 200°C. Stretch the bacon with the back of a knife, then cut each rasher in half. Wrap a piece of bacon round each oyster and pierce with a toothpick. Place on a baking tray. Bake for about 8 minutes.
Butter the toast, arrange two angels on each piece (remembering to remove toothpicks) and garnish the dish with the coriander.

Angels on Horseback Serves 6
Oysters                                           24
Bacon streaky rashers                      12
Toast small slices                            12
Coriander leaf chopped               ˝ cup

Cooking method
Mince the onion, celery and garlic.
Melt butter in large saucepan and sauté the celery and onions until transparent.
Blend in the flour and simmer for three minutes adding the garlic and bay leaves. Add the milk and water, bring to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes. Add the oysters and salt and pepper, simmer for five more minutes and serve.

Oyster Soup Serves: 8
Oysters                            24
Milk                        1,000 ml
Water                        500 ml
Celery                      1 stick
Onion                               1
Butter                         160g
Garlic                      1 Clove
Flour                     6 tbspns
Bay Leaves                      2
Salt                         2 tspns
Cracked black pepper 1 tspn