Recession Restaurant Reviews

Som Tam Pot – or something like that…

David Bennett
The problem, of course, is that the name and menu is all in Thai, a little unusual for a café in a Chiang Mai shopping mall! So – here’s how to find it… Go to Central, Kad Suan Kaew, and look for Uncle Sam’s (formally Mikes Burgers) on the ground floor at the back…just behind the food hall. Right opposite, you’ll see Som Tam Pot…all white tables and chairs with a big circular mirror at the back.
You will probably be given a menu in English. For a safe option to try the place out, the different Som Tams are all delicious, the regular version costing 30 baht. My favourite is the grilled chicken on a stick at 15 baht. Stir-fried rice with chicken is 40 baht. If you can suppress feelings of guilt, try the deep fried sticky rice balls at 10 baht – fantastic! Despite these budget prices, you will be served a free pot of raw cabbage, French beans and lettuce. The staff are very good, but all seem optically impaired when you wave at them for a menu, the bill or whatever! The food makes it – no need to save money by skipping lunch here! Highly recommended for an interesting, very tasty (and very cheap) lunch.
The second budget venue we tried is also in a shopping mall – this time at Airport Plaza. Nippon Ramen is particularly convenient if you are heading off to see a movie.
This Japanese noodle speciality restaurant is new to the mall, adjacent to the Tops food hall, and is astoundingly good value. Seats are arranged around the cooking area; you just place your order and watch your food being freshly prepared from behind a glass screen. I’m no expert on everyday Japanese food, so have no idea if the food is authentically Japanese. I suspect not, but the ingredients are fresh, the cooking fast and the taste delicious.
If you don’t fancy sitting on the bar stools, the waitress will bring your meal over to you in the food hall, or even to the adjacent coffee shop! A large plate of crispy noodles with seafood (including octopus) and vegetables is 79 baht. Sushi is also good, and at very reasonable prices. Another favourite is Japanese pork curry with rice. Service is quick and efficient and all the portions are large. As a result, comparing this new café with a food-hall dish at 40 baht, I would say Nippon Ramen is better value for money.
The third on the list is rated as ‘one of the best value restaurants in Chiang Mai!’
Khamin, named after a Thai herb, is on Nimmanhaeminda Road, Soi 5, and has a very new and modern dining room with free Wi-Fi. You can also eat outside in the quiet garden. We ordered a Pad Thai Moo and a Khao Soy Kie – result – quick service and good sized portions. My companion said it was one of the best Khao Soy Kie she had ever had, then added something about ‘the waiter not being too bad either!’ We had separate bowls of cucumber, lime wedges, bean sprouts, chives, pickled cabbage, shallots and peanuts. We also had a bottle of water and a nam manau each. I would not have batted an eyelid at 250 baht but the bill came to 100 baht! The restaurant has no desserts in the menu as yet, but they now do fresh coffee and home made cookies.
We should support this place, for 4 excellent reasons…the food is superb, the prices are incredible, the ambiance is mellow and the waiter is good-looking!


Peking Duck

Once a year, chefs can let their hair down, and I am always happy to oblige them with some space in this column. This year it is Peking Duck, so with your chopper at the ready, and the duck awaiting. Let’s begin…

A couple go for a meal at a Chinese restaurant and order the Chicken Surprise. After a little while, the waiter brings the meal, served in a lidded cast iron pot.
Just as the wife is about to serve herself, the lid of the pot rises slightly and she briefly sees two beady little eyes looking around before the lid slams back down.
“Good grief, did you see that?” she asks her husband. He had not, so she asked him to look in the pot. He reaches for it and again the lid rises, and he also sees two beady little eyes looking around before it slams down.
Rather perturbed, he calls the waiter over, explains what is happening, and demands an explanation.
“Prease sir,” said the waiter, “what you order?”
The husband replied, “Chicken Surprise.”
“Ah! So solly,” said the waiter, “I bling you Peeking Duck!”