Popular restaurant moves to Fah Tani

Mark Whitman
Many readers will know West, (not least for its puddings!), which has recently changed location from Soi 7 off Nimmenhaemenda Road to new premises not that far away at the ‘square’ known as Fah Tani, just off Huay Kaew Road. The owner, David, decided to leave the busy and expensive road and head for somewhere with easy parking. You can find West exactly next door to the popular Thai restaurant Krit’s and two doors down from the bar La Vie en Rose.
Let’s hope that this is the start of a run of decent eating places there. They could well prove popular, since there are many condos nearby, plus hotels and up market guest houses such as P.J.’s and the new Heritage Hotel which opens in July. As someone who lives just across the road from the area that once housed a large cinema, I must declare an interest in future development.
A trifle unfairly, perhaps, I and a companion, (to whom I am indebted for the photographs this week and of Marco’s), went a day or two after West re-opened. There was still work to be done on the interior of the place, so we happily chose the verandah which has room for about a dozen customers. Inside there is a bar area with a couple of low tables and stools and covers for 20 or more, should he be lucky enough to find that many customers in this low season!
By the time this review appears the slightly unfinished air will no doubt be remedied, and certainly the kitchen is already up and running. The menu remains the same, with the emphasis on Western food plus a single sheet of Thai dishes all around the 100 baht level. Nothing too exciting there, but very useful should you be eating with someone who wants local food.
The drinks menu is also the same with decent glasses of red or white wine at 100 baht, a range of cocktails and beers at sensible prices, (a large Singha is 100 baht and a small is 65, with Heineken and others available), plus soft drinks. As it happened, my friend had brought a bottle of wine with him and we were agreeably surprised that the corkage charge was only 50 baht, far less than most restaurants where the norm is 150.
Knowing that the desserts are very special here, we passed on a starter and chose a bruschetta with garlic, which proved a little salty – in parts – as though the butter, sea salt and crushed garlic had not been fully amalgamated. Something easily done and easily remedied. Other starters, or Tapas as the menu states, include garlic prawns or chicken on French bread, a very light salmon croquette and similar, not over heavy dishes, priced at around 60 baht.
Neil opted for one of the specials of the day, described as Beef Goulash. Served with mashed potatoes rather than dumplings, it was ‘a good beef stew, lacking the paprika and other elements to make it authentic, but very tender and tasty’. Sounded OK to me, and not that dear at 220 baht. I opted for a favourite pasta dish, simply served with olive oil, garlic and chili. On this menu it is served with prawns, but these are easily omitted if you want the classic version, which I like served with plenty of grated parmesan. The many pastas are priced at around 120 to 160 baht, with the fettucine with sea food the most expensive. They also serve pizzas and there is a full page of ‘specials’, which range from fish and chips, (140), to filet mignon and rack of lamb at rather more fancy prices.
And then of course there are the puddings. Now this is not a long list. In fact I think there are only half a dozen, so never on Sunday. We chose the sticky date and the apple ‘cake’, both served with good quality vanilla ice cream and a sauce. They are not heavy, though the divinely decadent taste suggested that they must be calorific. On that Thursday evening our combined bill came to 650 baht, which included the corkage, bottled water and a tip for the pleasant service.
By chance, I went there again at the weekend with a Thai friend, arriving around 9.30 after the memorable concert by the Chiang Mai Youth Philharmonic Band of music by Living Composers at the Kad. We stopped off for a simple meal and a glass of wine. The owner assures me that work and decoration will continue and that they intend to open from around 11a.m. until ‘at least’ 10p.m. every day in the hope of attracting a lunchtime clientele as well as evening diners.


Vietnamese chicken in sweet sauce

Vietnamese food seems to be growing in popularity these days. This typically Vietnamese dish is a distant cousin to the Thai Gai Prio Waan (sweet and sour chicken) but is simpler to make. The original authentic recipe calls for Vietnamese fish sauce, which is more pungent than the Thai equivalent, and I recommend using the Tiparos Thai variety. Give yourself 10 minutes for preparation time and 15 minutes for cooking.

Cooking Method
Cube the chicken (2 cm) and dry in a towel. Heat the oil in the wok and rapidly stir-fry the chicken until brown on all sides. Add the garlic, spring onions, sugar and a dash of salt and pepper. Stir for two minutes and then add enough water to cover the meat. Bring to the boil and add fish sauce and then simmer gently until the liquid is reduced to six tablespoons. Add the bean sprouts and stir through and serve immediately with steamed rice, garnishing with the chopped coriander leaf.

Ingredients                            Serves 4
Chicken breast cubed              500 gm
Spring onions, chopped                    4
Garlic, crushed                          1 clove
Fish sauce                               2 tbspns
Sugar                                         1 tbspn
Cooking oil                             2 tbspns
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Bean sprouts                               50 gm
Coriander, chopped             1 tbspn (garnish)