Arcobaleno: By Brian H. Baxter
Cool, calm and collected - are you sure it’s Italian?
Shortly before Christmas, I wrote briefly about six of the
better Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai. Some time in the
not too distant future I hope to write about another six,
since there is a good range to choose from. At the top of
the earlier group was Arcobaleno, by virtue of its name. It
would, in truth, come near the top of most lists by virtue
of its qualities, even if it were called Vesuvius. Not that
such a name would suit it, there are not likely to be
eruptions - even in the kitchen - in such a well run eatery.
No, the name, which I am told means “rainbow”, suits it much
Not that there is much color to be found in the restaurant.
In fact, a few splashes of brightness might not be a bad
thing, to brighten the slightly minimalist tone. It is a
laid back place, not heavy on atmosphere, no background
music and, thankfully, no ebullient waiters suggestively
brandishing large pepper mills! Not even a chef “gracing”
tables with his presence asking whether the pasta was al
dente and not waiting for an answer.
Here we have a calm, efficient, friendly and rather polite
venue, providing good quality inexpensive food - much of it
home made or home grown. As a result it has a dedicated
following of Thais and farangs who eat there regularly. It
seats about 60 people at well spaced tables, with white
tablecloths and napkins. You may come for lunch or dinner
and, rather oddly, they open from 10 am until 2 pm and again
from 5 pm until 10 pm. Do people eat that early? Americans
The menu is extensive and almost exclusively Italian, with
very few concessions to other western food and no Thai food,
which is fine since few places which offer all things to all
comers have any real personality. My only criticism of the
menu, which is very clearly laid out, and to which
photographs have been recently added, is that it is entirely
in English. This has caused some problems when eating there
with Thai friends and it seems a tad discourteous to the
The menu is too comprehensive to go into in detail since it
offers a full range of starters, including soups, salads and
a range of more interesting dishes, my favorite of which is
the grilled vegetables. They come attractively spread on the
plate in thin strips, having been griddled with a coating of
olive oil and cost 120 baht. I have them with a little extra
oil and a sprinkling of parmesan cheese. Sometimes, for a
change, though, I choose their excellent Caesar salad, also
120 baht. Another dish popular with friends is the crab
served in a steaming dish with cheese and the option of
salmon. Be warned - this is almost a meal in itself and
Main courses too are numerous, with pasta in every shape and
variety and costing around 240 baht depending on the sauce.
There are plenty of vegetarian options, including delicious
macaroni with four cheeses, egg plant with tomato sauce and
a cheese topping, and a decent spaghetti arabiata. There are
pizzas, risottos and of course more ambitious options from
the meat and fish selections. Although everything is cooked
to order service can be a little rapid on occasion and in
such a restaurant I find it odd to have my main course
placed on the table whilst I am still enjoying a starter. I
have never understood people who seem to be in a race to see
who finishes eating first.
I’ve found that portions are quite generous, but I usually
manage room for one of their sensibly limited range of
desserts or, better still, their home made ices. Personal
favorites are the honey-ginger sorbet, the black prune ice
cream and at present - the best mango ice cream you are
likely to taste. For - as the theatrical saying goes - a
limited season only and not to be missed. As you would
expect, there are plenty of drinks on offer including good
quality wines and house wines served by the glass at 140
baht. An attraction is the provision of rolls, bread sticks
and carafe water which is provided as part of the service,
not a costly extra. Prices listed include tax. You will find
Arcobaleno at 60, Nawatgate, A. Muang, Chiang Mai 50000.
There is ample parking in front of the restaurant and
although reservations are not usually essential you can
telephone on 053 306 254 or 086 672 1532.
Orange Teriyaki Fish
Teriyaki sauce gives its own particular flavor to any dish,
so this recipe is good when using the local white fish fillets, which tend to be
less flavorsome than the more expensive imported snow fish or cod. This dish
then depends for the bulk of its flavor on the marinade. This procedure is best
done in a plastic “zip-lock” bag, into which you place the fish and the
marinade. Turn it over several times to let the marinade get on all sides and
then place in the refrigerator for at least one hour, but three or four is
better. It is very simple to cook after the marinade process.
Combine the marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place fish
in a zip-lock bag and pour marinade over fish. Marinate for at least one hour in
Remove from the marinade and place fish on heavy duty aluminum foil. Season with
salt and pepper. Arrange onion slices over fish. Seal edges of aluminum foil and
place on grille at medium heat. Grill for 20 minutes turning once or twice.
Ingredients serves 4
White fish fillets (your choice) 750
Onion thinly sliced
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
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