Kitchen Nimman off Huay Kaew Road :  By Brian Baxter

New venture for Krit after a two-year hiatus

Some four years ago, one of the most friendly and reasonable restaurants in Nimmenhaeminda Road was Krit’s. The accent was on Thai food, with a good selection of pasta dishes and other gestures towards the farang palate. One sad day it was sold and Krit - manager and co-chef and, I assume, a co-owner - semi-disappeared from the restaurant scene. There was a small scale venture in the back streets of Chiang Mai, but few people found that little local eatery.
Imagine my pleasure when told a couple of days after my return from the UK that he had opened up a new restaurant just a couple of hundred meters across the road from the front entrance of Hillside 4 Condotel. The area is called Fahthanee Market and there is a sprinkling of bars nearby and across the square - with ample parking.
It turned out to be a reasonably modest affair, with some 20 seats on a little terrace and a slightly larger number of covers inside. There is a small bar inside, offering a wide range of drinks and to give you an indication of the reasonable prices large beers range from 55 to 65 baht for a Beer Singha. I was pleased to note that when a friend and I asked for orange juice at the start of a meal it was freshly squeezed and not from a bottle.
The menu is quite extensive and at present is exclusively Thai, with a good selection of Northern dishes Hopefully a couple of pasta dishes might find their way onto the menu in the future along with white wine. At present only red wine is available - at a reasonable 119 a glass.
On the most recent occasion I had dinner there it was in a birthday party group of seven Thais and five farangs. We enjoyed a wide range of food and quite a few drinks, including the odd whisky, numerous cokes and a small brewery supply of beers. The cost - with a tip - came to 350 baht a head. It would be easy to eat and drink well for under half that.
My favorite dish so far has been the wafer thin raw salmon, served with wasabee and a Thai dressing. At just 89 baht this makes a splendid starter for two and in fact three plates of it stretched to 12 people whilst we waited for our main dishes to arrive. With a few dishes of cashew nuts this was an excellent way to get the taste buds flexed.
You might also go for any of the well priced salads - Chiang Mai, tuna or several more at around 30 baht. Among the most tempting dishes are the wide range of fish, served steamed with Chinese mushrooms for example or deep fried with chili sauce or with garlic. They are priced at 139 or 149 baht. Rice by the way is 15 baht a portion or comes served in tureens at 50 baht with enough for four people.
Make a point of checking out the ‘specials’ board which is sited next to the bar. This lists some 15 or 16 options and will change according to availability and the ‘mood’ of the chef. This is an easier way of choosing the food, rather than wading through the larger menu - something that appeals to us lazy farangs.
They have only been open for a few weeks so no doubt are still finding their feet and waiting for the high season, but one can see that already it fills something of a gap between the very local eateries or stalls and the smarter places on the main Nimmenhaeminda Road, where parking is so often a problem. Certainly the staff could not be more attentive and the charming Krit is very much in evidence - until called to the kitchen of course.
For residents of the many condos around Huay Kaew Road this is already proving a welcome addition to the rather thin restaurant scene there. Thai visitors found the food not quite spicy enough, thinking it more farang orientated. But that is of course easily remedied when ordering.
As mentioned parking is easy, for those who come from further afield. The seats are quite comfortable, the background music from the likes of Anita O’Day and Ella and the service prompt. Neil Rogers who filled in so admirably for me for a couple of months (and who promises to come back when needed - for which thanks) was especially keen for any comments on places reviewed. And we certainly welcome any recommendations you might have for new places that are worth a visit. Just to confirm the Mail’s policy. We go to restaurants anonymously and if it is worth reviewing then I will go back, usually with the ‘papers expert flashman and have another meal there. We try to go with Thai and farang friends so as to taste a range of dishes. If the place seems a dud we don’t bother with a review - no publicity rather than harsh words. All comments welcome.
Kitchen Nimman by Krit Open from 11 am until 12 midnight every day. Tel: 053 895 199.


Thai Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin is a very underrated vegetable. It can be used in many ways, and making soup is one of them. The pumpkin base is enough to be able to add many ingredients, such as curry powder, or as in this case, many items from a Thai kitchen. Pumpkin is also very inexpensive while we are all watching the cost of living going up.

Cooking Method
In a large pot, heat oil and gently cook onion with brown sugar and garlic over low heat until softened (8-10 minutes).
Skin and chop pumpkin into 2 cm chunks. Add pumpkin, water, coconut cream, chili, lemongrass and fish sauce. Season with freshly ground pepper.
Simmer for about 25 minutes until tender. Remove and puree until smooth.
Just before serving, adjust seasoning to taste and mix in chopped coriander.
Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf.

Ingredients        Serves 4-6
Vegetable oil                  2 tbspns
Onion, finely chopped                1
Brown sugar                    1 tbspn
Garlic, crushed               2 cloves
Small pumpkin                         1
Water                              500 ml
Canned coconut cream     250 ml
Sweet Thai chili sauce      1 tbspn
Lemon grass, finely chopped 1 tbpsn
Fish sauce                      1 tbspn
Freshly ground pepper
Fresh chopped coriander     50 ml
Coriander leaves for garnish