Recommended dishes at 13 Chiang Mai restaurants

Mark Whitman
A few weeks ago a friend casually remarked that it would be nice to be able to have a starter at one particular place, a main at a second and a third where we were actually having a pudding. I know that occasionally people try an experience like that and I often end up at Krit’s, for example, for an ice cream and a glass of wine having eaten elsewhere.
Also, it is not uncommon for guests at a dinner party to bring a starter or a dessert, leaving one to concentrate on the main course and perhaps supply a few cheeses. That and a dishwasher make for an unstressful evening and add variety.
So here, in an expansion of the notion, I have listed not three but 13, (that’s a baker’s dozen, if you know the expression), different venues and you might like to mix and match a couple on occasion. All those mentioned are worth a visit anyway and range from a cheerful courtyard fish and chip ‘shop’ to smart fusion. There are no pasta dishes listed since so many Italian restaurants offer good options, with those by Stefano especially reliable, along with Pasta Café and Giorgio’s.
I’ve given the name of the restaurant first, then a choice from the menu which is especially tasty, plus some contact details. Many of them have web sites and most of them have been reviewed in these pages over the past couple of years, so check them out.

CAFÉ DE NIMMAN: This superb and inexpensive Thai eatery offers a huge choice in a book-sized menu but is consistently reliable. No meal should be without the tasty Ma Ma Noodles with prawns, served in its own pot. Perfect to share as part of a meal with friends. They are located at Rooms, on Nimmanhaeminda Road, on the left just before the park and the CMU. After a meal, walk on a few metres to the GLASS ONION for a nightcap.
CHARLIE’S ENGLISH FISH ‘N CHIPS: What to say, except that this boasts, (accurately), of serving fresh fish with no bones in a crispy batter. The essence of this particularly English meal. Drinks available and some choices either side but it’s the ‘main course’ you go for. Find them off Loh Kroh Road in Lane One Kampangdin, next to the Nice Place guest house. (086 916 2418).
MOXXIE’S: Plenty to choose from here but a personal ‘must’ is their Nori Wrapped Tuna as a starter or even main course. I ask for the version they used to serve with the wasabi and mayonnaise dressing on the side. It also comes as part of their special ‘platter’ for two as a starter if you just want to sample it. At D2 Hotel, 100 Changklan Road. (053 999 999).
LE SPICE: Not far away in the Night Bazaar proper you will find this Indian restaurant, which also offers Thai food. Again, many choices but aim for the vegetarian menu, (often the best choice for this food), and for a dessert try the Saffron Banana with ice cream and an orange sauce. You can find them at Charoen Prathet Soi 6. (053 234 962).
DALAABA: This is rather an upmarket Thai restaurant and caters for Western palates along with the spicier dishes. I think their version of the classic dish of stir friend asparagus with prawns is well worth including in any selection from their extensive menu. They are located at 113 Burmungras Road, Wat Gate. (053 242 491).
NEY NEY: Not upmarket at all, but great fun, with live music and mainly a Thai clientele, but the menu is in English as well and the choice is wide. The barbecued fish is quite dry without the spicy sauce, (served on the side), but is absolutely delicious. Heading towards Rin Kham, you’ll find this informal place on the Superhighway about 100 metres before the Grand View Hotel.
BECCOFINO: I reviewed this smart Italian trattoria just a few weeks ago and believe that their pizzas are among the very best in the city, thanks to the furnace-like wood burning oven, the generous toppings and the thin crust base. With a salad and a glass of their good house wine this is inexpensive dining in a stylish ambience. 20/2 Soi 5 off Nimmanhaeminda Road. (053 226 590)
CHE MARCO: As mentioned a while ago, Marco’s Tuna Carpaccio, (with the facon provencale dressing), is superb as a starter or as a main course to follow one of the tapas, such as the peppers, which are grilled so that the skins can be removed and served in a good olive oil dressing. 15/7 Loh Kroh Road. (053 207 032).
KRIT’S NIMMAN KITCHEN: This popular Thai restaurant seems to have one dish that is ‘everyone’s favourite’ – the Chiang Mai Salad served with a delicate tamarind sauce. The crispy noodles and salad are augmented with a choice of either chicken or prawns or can, of course, be served as a veggie dish. Located just of Huay Kaew Road, opposite Hillside 4.
WEST’S: Next door to Krit’s in the square known as Fah Tani, you can find this Australian-owned restaurant which has the most scrumptious puddings, along with a choice of Western and Thai food. Most popular is the Sticky Date Pudding, served with vanilla ice cream and a super sauce. Like its neighbour, it opens for lunch and dinner. Only 50 metres off the Huay Kaew Road with ample parking.
ARCOBA’LENO: Many people swear by this well know Italian ‘institution’, not least for the hefty starter of crab and salmon in a creamy sauce. It seems to be a meal in itself, but their ice creams are well worth saving space for. My favourites are the pistachio and the heavier prune, which is black and creamy. They also do super grilled vegetables as starter but see below in the final selection. 60 Na Walket Road. (086 672 1532).
MO’C MO’L: A large and very successful Thai venue, which also has Japanese and European selections. Stay with the Thai and make sure the selection includes either the mackerel salad or the excellent sea food in a red curry sauce served in banana leaf bowls. Head up Huay Kaew Road, crossing Canal Road and you’ll find them about a kilometre further up on the left, just before CMU. Ample parking in the grounds of this popular place, which has live music and an extensive drinks menu, including many cocktails and good wines.
BILLY’S: The chef-proprietor here offers pizzas and pastas and many other dishes but certainly one to look out for is the grilled vegetable wrapped around a tuna filling. Or you can have the grilled vegetables served more simply on their own, with black pepper and extra olive oil on the side, perhaps with a sprinkle of parmesan cheese. Ideal for the vegetarian and a little less filling as a starter. Not far from the night bazaar on Kampangdin Road.
PS And some good news, The GREEN MILL RESTAURANT has re-opened. I hope to review it in a week or two and see whether the new chef has maintained the previous excellent standard. Advance reports suggest that all is well.


Macaroni Salad Recipe

This is an easy dish to make and you can add extra items such as ham salmon and even cheese if you want.

Ingredients                              Serves 4
Macaroni pasta                            2 cups
Hard boiled egg, chopped                    1
Roasted chopped red bell pepper          1
Fresh chopped parsley                1 tbspn
Chopped spring onion                    ¼ cup
Lemon juice                                 ½ tspn
Mayonnaise                                 ½ cup
Several pinches of paprika
Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cooking Method
Cook macaroni, as directed on its package, in at least two liters of salted water (1 teaspoon of salt per liter of water). When cooked through, but still slightly firm (al dente) remove from heat, drain and rinse with cool water until room temperature.
Roast a fresh bell pepper by blackening it over an open flame on a gas range, cool and scrape off blackened skin and discard stem and seeds and then chop.
Put chopped onions into a small bowl and sprinkle with the lemon juice. This will serve to take the edge off the onions.
Combine cooked macaroni, onions, and all other ingredients in a large serving bowl. Mix well and adjust seasonings to taste.