Ruen Tamarind at Tamarind Village:  By Neil Robinson

Appetizing Thai food in peaceful, charming surroundings

Tamarind Village hotel is near the centre of the old city, but so discreetly set back away from the road, that I had not even realised it was there. When you enter the grounds it has the feel of being out in somewhere quietly rural (but without the cocks crowing and the other noises that usually make a real village far less peaceful). A huge, old tamarind tree shades one of the courtyards. Lanna and Spanish Mission are two of my favourite styles of architecture. The hotel combines them in a successful blend, with Lanna style roofs and shady cloisters and rough stucco from the other side of the world. In the restaurant you sit on an open, shaded terrace looking along the swimming pool and towards the surrounding courtyard. The effect, particularly at night with the courtyard softly lit, is charming. No real village, of course, could ever look as attractive!
The menu is predominantly Thai food, but also includes a range of Western food. I was pleased to see that vegetarian versions of many dishes are also offered. We tried the Thai food, which is the restaurant’s speciality. In among the menu items, in addition to more standard or central Thai dishes, are dishes from the north and from Isaan, together with some more Chinese-influenced offerings. As anyone who has spent any time in Thailand knows well, the same word can be transliterated into Roman letters in many different ways. To avoid confusion, I will use the names of dishes as they are spelled on the menu. Please note that all prices quoted below are plus tax and plus 10% service. We specified “spicy”, when there was a choice, but the restaurant will prepare medium or milder versions of the dishes, if you prefer.
We started with three dishes as appetizers. Tord Man Goong (190 baht), crispy fried shrimp cakes, had a nice light texture. Sometimes, when I have eaten this elsewhere, the texture is good, but I am disappointed with the bland flavour. This was not the case here - there was a good, clear, but not overly strong, seafood flavour. Spicy scallop salad was indeed spicy and flavourful, served with tasty basil leaves. Som Tahm Moo Yang (160 baht), green papaya salad with pork, was spicy hot, as som tahm should be, with good tender roast pork.
We followed with Nam Prik Goong Klang Dong (180 baht). This was a paste of shrimp, garlic and chili, served with fresh vegetables, and was described as the chef’s signature dish. I found this the most interesting dish we ate. The texture was excellent, more crispy than I expected, from the dried shrimp, and it had an appetizing combination of strong flavours.
Tom Kha Gai (180 baht), chicken in a coconut milk soup flavoured with kha (galangal) and lemongrass, is a staple of Thai cooking. This was a tasty version, with a clear flavour of galangal, so necessary to this dish, and sometimes lacking when I have eaten it elsewhere.
For curries, we tried Hor Mok Talay Maprao On (250 baht), seafood red curry in a whole coconut, with young coconut meat. This is one of my favourite curries, and they did it well, flavourful but not too spicy hot. Our second curry was Kang Ped Yang Linchee (320 baht), sliced roast duck in red curry with lychee. Duck and lychee in curry is a somewhat unusual combination and, although the flavour was interesting, this was, to my taste, a combination that did not quite work out.
I tried their two house white wines, “special” (250 baht a glass) and “premium” (300 baht). I found the premium very drinkable and worth the extra 50 baht. The wine list is the largest I can remember seeing in a Thai restaurant, with wines from all over the world. Prices start at 900 baht for Monsoon Valley wines from Thailand, which go well with the spicy flavours of Thai food. Some may be surprised to hear that Thailand is a wine exporting nation, but I understand that Monsoon Valley export much of their production, most of it to be sold in Thai restaurants under the slogan “Thai Wine for Thai Food”.
If you are looking for a very pleasant place to enjoy both appetizing Thai cuisine and attractive surroundings, then Ruen Tamarind is well worth trying. The address is 50/1 Rajdamnoen Rd. The website is www. tamarindvillage.com. I’d like to hear from you on your experience of this restaurant. Please contact me at: [email protected] Next week will be something different, a wine bar which serves light food, but where the emphasis is, of course, on the wine.


Pork Satays

Satays make an ideal BBQ food. Speared on a stick or skewer, you can eat single-handed while holding a drink in the other! To make the best satays, marinade, marinade, marinade! To make these pork satays memorable, marinate the meat in a zip-lok bag in the fridge 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 get in the local supermarkets.

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

Ingredients Makes ten  12 inch skewers
Pork loin                                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