The Miyuki at the Royal Princess Hotel: By Brian Baxter

Superb Japanese food served in elegant surroundings

Japanese food at its best is known for the quality of its ingredients, the freshness of those ingredients and the impeccable presentation and service which accompanies it. I know this to be true from three working visits to that intriguing country and from rather costly Japanese restaurants in London and elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, Chiang Mai boasts quite a few eateries offering a wide range of Japanese food, from open-air local places near the CMU in Huey Kaew Road, others in town and those less fancy outlets in shopping malls. However, if you want to enjoy the real experience in surroundings where the food and service is - as the many photographs of the Thai Royal Family testify - good enough for a Queen then look no further than the first floor of the Royal Princess Hotel.
I have eaten there on a few occasions, but only in their Thai restaurant, when friends have been staying there. They also have a Chinese Restaurant called the Jasmine, right next door to the Miyuki, which I visited last week with an English friend and our two Thai companions. I should tell you right away that all four of us considered the meal a memorable experience. The food was wonderfully tasty, beautifully presented, graciously served and as fresh as tomorrow’s news.
Accordingly it is not inexpensive, but then neither was it overpriced, more value and judicious choice from the wide ranging menu should not break the bank.
We enjoyed a meal that included two dishes that will long remain in the memory and none that were ordinary; with them we had beer Singha and two carafes of excellent quality sake. The bill came in at 750 baht a head, including tax and service and a small extra tip. And whilst such comparisons are not completely meaningful I would suggest that the equivalent cost in London, in similar surroundings, would be around 70 pounds a person or between 4000 and 5000 baht. Not surprisingly, my English visitor was agreeably surprised.
We were seated in one of the small private rooms for four, with the tables at lap height. Luckily for the oldsters there was a dropped floor so we were able to sit without crossed legs! There are plenty of impeccably laid ‘normal’ tables in the main restaurant but this setting gave the meal an extra level of authenticity.
And that is the word which I believe best describes the food on offer. The menu, clearly laid out in Japanese, Thai and English is far from daunting but does I believe include many dishes and ingredients that are a direct ‘translation’ of the original. You do not have to be an expert in Japanese food to order here, and no doubt many of the visitors and residents from Japan must feel very at home in the Miyuki.
We chose four starters, which were preceded by assorted little dishes of pickles and tuna, which came with our drinks, and at least two of these brought gasps of pleasure. The squid sushimi, with spring onions, egg yolk and vinaigrette was truly delicious, moist and tender. The grilled egg plant topped with Miso paste was also superb and very delicate. A bargain at 120 baht each.
For the main courses we enjoyed two types of sushi, one with prawns and the other with tuna. Plus deep fried fish, a fine fillet of salmon, a chicken dish and some steamed vegetables in a tasty broth. Plus small bowls of steamed rice. These were accompanied by a range of sauces and condiments, pickles and the indispensable wasabi.
As a further indulgence we shared two ice creams. Although they were both green tea flavored, one was served plain and the second was deep fried. Although the meal was quite substantial, the quality of the food and lightness of touch in the cooking left us all pleasantly satisfied but in no way uncomfortable. Luckily, no help was needed to get up from the low seating. The meal was enhanced by the light and airy room and the perfect service.
You will find the Miyuki in the Royal Princess Hotel, which is like a serene oasis amidst the clatter and bustle of the Night Bazaar. It is at112 Chang Klan Road. Tel: 053 25 3900.


Kwiteo nam (noodle soup)

One staple that keeps Thailand turning is Kwiteo nam – the Thai noodle soup. Thai roadside noodle soup vendors are plentiful and provide a filling dish at very reasonable prices. The main noodle styles are “Sen lek” (thin), “Sen yai” (wide), “Sen mee” (AKA “Bamee” egg noodles) and “Mama” (the wriggly noodles).
The recipe is simple and after you perfect it, you can set up at the roadside yourself!

Cooking Method
Boil up the stock and add the fish balls, pork, fish sauce and sugar. After 2 minutes add the noodles and bean sprouts in a net spoon and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Now add the shallot, coriander and garlic.
Fish out the sprouts and noodles and place into bowls, then add the fish balls and minced pork. Top up with the soup stock and sprinkle a little white pepper on top. Serve with some more fish sauce, some chilli powder, sugar and sliced red chilli in vinegar.

Ingredients                              serves 4
Noodles (soaked)                              200 gm
Pork (minced)                                   200 gm
Fish balls (any supermarket)              200 gm
Bean sprouts                                    150 gm
Coriander (chopped)                        2 tbspns
Shallots (chopped)                                    1
Garlic (chopped, fried)                       1 tbspn
Fish sauce                                       50 mls
Ground white pepper                        tspn
Sugar                                              1 tspn
Chicken stock                               1.5 litres