De Naga Restaurant
Admittedly, restaurant reviews that appear in
this section will almost always be positive. The reviews
are written by people who tend to love to eat and enjoy
living in Chiang Mai – with the intent of sharing a
positive experience with other readers.
Writing some 1,000 words in praise of this restaurant
will be difficult – as two words will suffice –
absolutely fantastic. In both food quality and ‘value
for cost,’ the menu gets the highest marks. Not only was
the food great, but the dinner was enhanced by the
setting and the whole general experience. De Naga
describes its menu as ‘Mediterranean with Asian, Latin
American, French and Italian influences.’ Definitely
‘fusion cuisine.’ Interesting a la carte choices range
in price from 200 to 650 baht. Particularly creative in
the starter category was the Asian Pear Tower – sliced
Asian pear with caramelized walnuts and blue cheese
dressing. Others in the group enjoyed starters of baked
clams, grilled prawns and pan-seared foie gras.
In the soup category, I chose the wild mushroom cream
soup – dark, thick and delicious with sautéed mushrooms
and fresh cream – over the three other soup options. The
salad category (5 choices from Caesar to seafood) and
the pasta and rice section of the menu all promised to
be delicious, although, on this occasion, I had to skip
There were some duplicated choices among the 14 diners
in my group and the 8-option main course selections
caused some duplications amongst the group’s 14 diners,
however, most often duplicated was the comment, ‘this is
delicious!’ Whether in reference to the glazed duck, the
foie gras stuffed duck breast, the salmon, the roasted
snow fish, the tiger prawns, the filet mignon, or the
roasted veal loin, the comment was the same. The printed
menu includes fancy terminology and mouth-watering
descriptions of each selection – which I have eliminated
in an attempt at brevity.
My personal choice was the roasted rack of lamb, which
came in a pistachio-lemon crust and served with a small
beef tenderloin encrusted with parmesan cheese, covered
with a light mushroom sauce and set on a bed of caponata
and gremolata. I include this exact description of my
main course as it was the most expensive item on the
menu at 650 baht, feeling that for some readers it would
be a more valuable description than just ‘this was
The occasion for the group’s visit was another of those
frequent dinners held to celebrate a friend’s birthday.
There are 14 or so in our core group, so we eat out
often and always choose a different venue. Occasionally,
such a large group overwhelms the kitchen and staff of
the chosen restaurant – not so at De Naga. From the
first order of drinks throughout the entire meal, the
service was efficient and accurate. The impressive level
of service and the training of the staff, and most
importantly their knowledge about the menu, far exceeded
what I have experienced at much more expensive venues.
There was obviously a short interlude between placing 14
orders and the arrival of the first meal, but once the
entrees starting coming out of the kitchen, they arrived
continuously, with no awkward delay between serving the
first and the 14th entrée. When the meal ended, the
staff and Khun Kobkiat, the F&B manager, received a
well-deserved round of applause from the group.
Even with the most pleasant of experiences, there is
room for improvement – and here begins my only ‘slight’
complaint – no accurate directions exist on how to get
there. Like the alleged elephant who wandered through
the hills of Doi Suthep prior to locating the perfect
spot to build Wat Phrathat Doi Suthep, the mythological
‘Naga’ must have slithered away from Thapae Gate,
wandered until it could find a safe location – so hidden
that no one could find it – and thus declared that this
should be the location for building the incredibly
beautiful De Naga Hotel and Restaurant.
Unless you are a tuk-tuk driver, you should allocate
some research time prior to your dinner reservation. The
web site www.denagahotel. com has a local map, but the
map is oddly placed under the ‘contact us’ tab, whereas
the ‘location’ tab would have been a more appropriate
place! The ‘location’ tab itself only indicates that the
hotel and restaurant are located in Thailand, outlined
within the context of a map of Southeast Asia which is
not going to help you get to your dinner reservation on
time. Another tip: After printing out the map, be sure
to jot down the phone number – 053-209-030 – you may
well need to call the restaurant for updated directions.
Despite the rather large, lit, red and yellow sign for
the De Naga Hotel, placed on Moon Muang Road at Thapae
Gate, finding the place requires a left turn into a very
small soi at a very crowded location, almost completely
obscured with motorbikes and people.
After navigating that left turn, an almost immediate
right turn is required to enter the long and lovely
driveway of the hotel/restaurant complex. Picture the
winding, slithering Naga searching for a hidden, safe
location! There is also a lovely sign at eye level
indicating the hotel entrance, but again, the eyes of
the driver are more likely to be focused on avoiding the
pedestrians and motorbikes, thus missing the sign
entirely. The long driveway leads to a serene
environment reflecting the beauty of the Lanna culture.
Parking is another surprise at the end of the driveway.
Don’t let the small inconvenience of finding the place
dissuade you, as the payoff is well worth the time
invested in the search. You will have an incredibly good
meal in a fascinating setting. Spend some time wandering
about the place – a real taste of Lanna and a
masterpiece of architecture and landscaping. Plan to
spend about 1000 baht per person, drinks/wine
additional. Tip the well-trained staff generously – they
Nam Gim Satay - (Thai Peanut Sauce)
Satays are an ever popular Thai dish, both chicken and pork
seem to be equal favourites. The first secret with satays is not to overcook and
remember to turn over and baste the satay with coconut milk during the grilling.
The other secret is to prepare the authentic Thai style peanut sauce to go with
them. There is much more to it than peanut butter. This week’s recipe will show
you just how much different.
Soak the dried chillies in warm water until soft then place
in blender along with the galangal, coriander, lemon grass,
garlic, onions and shrimp paste. Grind to make a paste.
In a medium saucepan, bring the coconut milk to a gentle
boil over medium to low heat. Add paste and peanut butter
and blend well.
Continue to cook while stirring constantly until a thin
layer of oil appears on the surface. Add sugar and salt and
stir until dissolved then remove from heat. Serve warm.
The sauce can be kept in the refrigerator and re-heated.
Medium seeded dried
Coriander roots minced
Ground coriander seeds
Lemon grass finely chopped
Red onions chopped
Coconut milk medium consistency 6 cups
Creamy peanut butter