Imperial Mae Ping: By Brian Baxter

When the Mail’s camera-man-about town suggested a large hotel as a possible venue for Dining Out, I was a little surprised. But it turned out that he had greatly enjoyed one of their recent ‘special events’, a bar-b-q. They were, he told me, having a Lanna Buffet as a special promotion. It transpired that this was due to end the day before publication, but we were told that it would be revived for Songkran. That is, for the real New Year celebrations, not the days added on by some Chiang Mai revellers.
In the event, we chose to eat in the so-called “Coffee Shop”, where a buffet was in progress; but, instead, we opted to try some food from their very extensive menu , which includes Western and Thai food and also offers a range of noodle and pasta dishes cooked to order in an area just outside the restaurant. You select what you fancy from the wide range on offer and see it prepared for you. The hotel, which has been established for two decades, also features Japanese and Chinese Restaurants, (Shabu Shabu and Gold Leaf), a German beer garden and a cocktail lobby. These open during more conventional hours (5.30 pm until 2 am), although the large all-purpose venue opens early morning until late.
We could not resist trying the pasta ‘bar’; so I went for the spaghetti with sea food, which was appropriately tasty and rather too filling for me to enjoy all of the prawn crepes which had also been ordered for me by my companion, possibly to assuage any guilt he felt at tucking into a good-sized sirloin steak, with all the trimmings. A man-sized appetite if ever I saw one. I ended up with a modest ice cream; very refreshing it proved. Oddly they do not offer beer Singha on the menu, but beer Chang was available in both bottle and draft form, alongside a wide range of cocktails, soft drinks, wines, spirits and, of course, coffees.
I guess that most people do not think of hotels as places for lunch or dinner unless they are staying there, but increasingly it seems many venues are trying to attract custom from outside. Certainly this is true of D2, with its weekend barbecues, and of many of the other grand hotels which offer special lunch time buffets at attractive prices - but watch out for the price of drinks and the invariable plus-plus which can double the starting price. Here, they might well attract the many people who enjoy traipsing around the Night Bazaar and need some respite from their efforts! If that happens to be you or your guests at Songkran, you will find the tall building at Sridonchai Road, Chang Klan, Chiang Mai. Tel: 053 283 900.


Chicken Satays

Satays are the ideal BBQ food. Nicely speared on a stick or skewer, you can eat single-handed while holding a drink in the other! To make the best satays is simple. Marinade, marinade, marinade! To make these chicken satays memorable, marinate the meat in a Ziplok bag overnight and prepare the skewers the next day. It is messier, but the result is better. By the way, use the commercially available satay sauce you can buy in the local supermarkets. A lot easier!

Cooking Method
Cut the chicken into bite sized pieces. In a large bowl, combine the garlic, onion, coriander, brown sugar, lime juice, fish sauce and vegetable oil. Now place the chicken meat into the bowl and thoroughly mix each piece in the marinade. Pour the meat and marinade into a Ziplok bag and leave in the refrigerator overnight.
Before cooking, thread the meat on to ten 12 inch skewers that have been soaked in water for 30 minutes and cook over a hot BBQ or on the griller. Do not overcook chicken. Serve the satays with the peanut sauce.

Ingredients Makes ten 12 inch skewers
Chicken thigh fillet                   500 gm
Garlic, minced                       3 cloves
Onion, minced               large onion
Coriander (fresh) minced         2 tspns
Brown sugar                          1 tbspn
Lime juice from one lime
Fish sauce                           1 tbspn
Vegetable oil                        1 tbspn