: By Neil Robinson
Reliable, superior Thai food at reasonable prices
I have eaten at Lemon Tree on Huay Kaew Rd. many times.
The atmosphere, like many Thai restaurants, is rather
utilitarian. What keeps me coming back is that you can
rely on the food always being at least good, and often
very good, coupled with the reasonable prices and the
fact that most of the customers are Thai. There are some
Thai restaurants with predominantly farang or tourist
clientele, which makes me suspicious. I only recently
found out that there is another branch of Lemon Tree,
off Nimmanhaeminda Rd., so I decided to try this before
writing a review.
The second branch is in Chiang Mai University’s
International Centre. It is larger than the Huay Kaew
branch and the clientele looked to be exclusively Thai
(a good sign). The menu appeared identical to the Huay
Kaew branch, with one unfortunate (for me – I like beer
with Thai food) exception. This exception is that they
cannot serve alcoholic drinks because they are on
university property. The atmosphere is equally
utilitarian – neither branch is the place for a romantic
I went there with a Thai companion. We ordered four
dishes – more than ample for two. Deep fried pork ribs,
soft shell crab with black and fresh pepper, two types
of mushroom in oyster sauce and young coconut salad. We
drank fruit drinks. The best dishes were the soft shell
crab and the salad. As I bit into the soft shell crab,
it was first spicy hot, then came the peppery flavour
(which I really like), then the mild, but still tasty
crab. This is a dish not to be missed if you do not mind
spicy food. If you eat the coconut strips from the salad
by themselves, then they have a slightly sweet, firm and
crisp texture. Eating all the ingredients together, I
realized what an excellent mix the salad was, with
spices, minced pork, shrimp and tasty basil combining in
a way that makes Thai food such a successful cuisine.
The deep fried pork ribs were a little less crispy and
tasty than those I have eaten at the Huay Kaew branch.
The meat, though fairly tender, was rather fatty. Eaten
together with the accompanying crispy shredded garlic
however, the flavour was very good (although most
savoury items taste good with crispy shredded garlic!).
The mushroom dish, including both regular (het hom)
and golden needle mushrooms, was quite mild, but did
offer two quite distinct mushroom flavours. The service
was friendly and efficient. The cost, for more than
ample food, came to a little over 200 baht per person.
If you are looking for authentic (judging by the
popularity with Thais and the verdict of my Thai
companion), tasty Thai food, at very reasonable prices,
either branch is a good place to try. To get to the
branch in the International Centre, drive down
Nimmanhaeminda Rd. from the Amari Rincome. Pass the
Chiang Mai University Alumni Association on your left
and turn left just after this and just before the
fitness park. Drive about 100 m and you will see the
International Centre on your left behind a fountain. The
Huay Kaew branch is on Huay Kaew Rd., quite close to
Central at Kad Suan Kaew and opposite the Shell station.
It is close to the Sushi Corner restaurant, which I
reviewed last month. I’d like to hear from you on your
experience of this restaurant. Please contact me at:
Roasted Tomato Soup
Tomato soup is a standard on almost every
restaurant’s menu, with some being very ‘daring’ and suggesting that a swirl of
orange juice be added to the soup just before serving, but this week’s recipe is
much more than that. It elevates tomato soup to gourmet!
Preheat the oven to 375F. Arrange the tomatoes, skin side
down, on a baking sheet. Coat the bell pepper and onions with olive oil and put
them on another baking sheet along with the garlic, place the pepper skin side
down as well. Give both sheets a light showering of salt, then bake until the
tomatoes start to collapse and the onions start to brown and caramelize, about
45 minutes. Peel the garlic and place the roasted vegetables into a blender or
food processor. Blend in a cup of the stock until the soup is the desired
consistency. Add the paprika and more salt if needed - adjusting to your taste.
Ingredients Serves 4
Red bell pepper, seeded and quartered 1 large
Yellow onions, peeled, quartered 3 medium
Extra-virgin olive oil
Rock salt to taste
Paprika to taste
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