Ouh La La
Dropping a little piece of Paris right into Chiang Mai
The night bazaar area of Chiang Mai can be
packed this time of year, but harried shoppers can walk
a couple of blocks down Chiang Klan Road and find
relief. An awning and outdoor bistro tables give Ouh La
La a noticeable presence on the street, but it still
feels like stumbling upon a brasserie on a back street
in Paris. French flourishes are everywhere, from framed
images of Paris to glass windows etched with the Eiffel
Tower to sleek deli cases filled with fresh baked goods.
The décor is lean but appealing. Ouh La La is the kind
of place where everyone can feel comfortable – from
young tourists or locals to the newly retired, from
those decked out in summer’s sleekest garb to others
lounging in worn jeans and slip on shoes. The restaurant
is operated by the amiable Marco who handles the kitchen
and the efficient and pleasant Carole who rules the
dining room. Most of the menu consists of standard
French-inspired fare and though the cooking isn’t
flashy, the results are solid.
Several in my party began the night with the Shrimp
Bisque and although I would have liked to taste a bit of
sherry or white wine in the bowl, I found it satisfying
and at the surprisingly low price of 80 baht per bowl
it’s hard to complain. I also tried the Goose Liver
Plate (90 baht) which was delicious and was served along
with warm, crusty baguettes and chilled, sweet butter. A
friend thought the Melon And Shrimp Salad (90 baht) was
bland but when he asked for oil and vinegar the dish
became quite palatable. The Escargot In Profiteroles
(120 baht) was a favorite for me and was particularly
delicious when paired with the bisque.
The stand out of the main courses was the Coq Au Vin
(140 baht) which arrived gorgeous and aromatic. The
chicken fell off the bone and the sauce was awash with
mushrooms, wine and garlic. The Duck Confit (180 baht)
was also cooked to perfection in its own fat and slid
easily off the bone. On the downside, a friend thought
the Tagliatelle With Salmon (180 baht) was lackluster in
flavor but couldn’t deny that it was fresh.
The restaurant has a feeling of control about it. I
think that feeling comes from the host that has the
no-nonsense glare of a drill sergeant, with a trace of a
smile lurking under the surface, waiting to emerge. She
handles the front of the house practically by herself
and does a better job than three people do at other
places. In general the service is prompt and efficient –
sometimes overly so, as when our Thai waitress hovered
and then cleared plates as soon as one of us finished,
even though the others were still eating. This has
always been a pet peeve of mine but it seems to be
common practice in the land of smiles.
You all should know by now that my favorite part of the
meal is dessert and we tried a few. The Crème Brûlée
(110 baht) had a nice texture but tasted overly eggy to
me. The Profiteroles (90 baht) were delicious and
chocolaty and tasted house made but the pedigree was
sealed with the Tarte Tatin (90 baht). It’s a textbook
preparation, with a thin crust and thick wedges of
apples glistening in dark caramel, just a shade shy of
tasting scorched. I thought flavors could be smoothed
out with a dollop of tangy crème fraîche on top, which
would also act to keep things from becoming cloying but
it was still heavenly.
I have always said “The plates have to be good, the
welcome needs to be warm, the price decent, and the
ambience and service need to be good,” and they are
heading in all the right directions. Ouh La La is just
getting its footing, yet it is already making a
statement in the neighborhood dining scene. It can only
Ouh La La is located at 166/12 Chiang Klan Road opposite
the Shangri La Hotel. Call Carole at 087-832-0794 for
directions or reservations.
If you enjoy Italian cooking, then you will like this week’s
recipe. It can be done with pork instead of chicken, but I think the chicken
variant is better. The only real secret in this item is to make sure the chicken
breasts are flattened to the same thickness, so they cook evenly and together.
Flatten the chicken breasts between two pieces of waxed
paper with a meat pounder until thin. Heat the butter and
olive oil in a sauté pan over medium-high heat. Sauté the
flattened chicken breasts for about 1-2 minutes each side.
Remove and reserve to a platter and cover with tin foil to
Now, deglaze the pan with the wine and lemon juice,
loosening all of the browned bits stuck to the pan and bring
to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and add the
Place the chicken breasts on a serving plate, cover with the
sauce and serve immediately. Goes well with steamed rice.
Ingredients serves 2
Chicken breasts boneless 4
Olive oil 1 tbspn
Butter 1 tbspn
White wine ¼ cup
Lemon juice 1 tbspn
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Parsley, chopped 1tbspn
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