DINING OUT & KHUN OCHA'S COOKBOOK
 

LERTS ROS or BEST TASTE

Sea-food restaurant which lives up to its name

Mark Whitman
This Thai venue is probably best enjoyed in company with Thais, since the English version of the menu lists rather fewer than half of the dishes available on its Thai equivalent. Even without the bigger version you will still find plenty to choose from: Soups, including sea food and prawn, stir fried vegetables, crab in numerous guises, deep fried fish, prawns ad lib and so on. The selection is wide and I guess there may even be some meat dishes around.
It is slightly difficult to find on a first visit, but well worth the tiny effort involved. (see below). The setting is on the Ping River, though it is a far cry (not least in cost) from the many smart or tourist orientated eateries which proliferate on both sides of that somewhat murky stretch of water. Lerts Ros, or Best Taste as it translates into English, offers a friendly environment, with no pretence to anything except good food and fair prices.
There are a few tables facing the little ‘mews’ in the middle of a row of town houses in which it is situated, but you will find the main seating area (some 40 – 50) at the rear, facing the river and directly across from Maha-Naga. The tables are simple, unadorned wood, with comfortable chairs. The hand-written menu simply lists the food, with no prices, which may be because the price of fish varies so much in the market from day to day and it is obvious that the produce is bought fresh.
They offer a range of soft drinks and beers but many diners seemed to have brought their own Scotch and simply ordered ice and mixers. I guess you could take your own wine too, but our little group was happy with large bottles of Singha Beer at 80 baht.
The meal under discussion – and it must be admitted that we ordered a little too much – comprised the following: Tom Yam Talay, deep fried soft shell crabs in garlic, calamari, a fish, crab served in a pot with glass noodles and a large bowl of rice, plus three beers. With a tip it came to a very reasonable 400 baht a head. It would obviously be easy to eat for much less if one chose a little more moderately and a couple of the less fancy dishes.
I found the soup especially good though one Thai friend would have liked it more spicy (so what else is new?). The other Thai, who knows his food, compared the soft shell crab a trifle unfavourably with that in another restaurant, considering it ‘less crab and more garlic’. The calamari was universally enjoyed, particularly for its tenderness. The steaming pot of noodles with large pieces of crab defeated us in the end, as did the plentiful rice. We had arrived rather hungry and left very satisfied. The sternest ‘critic’ in the quartet gave it 7 out of 10 – high praise indeed.
The view to the river offers little excitement, just one commercial restaurant barge (with the occupants possibly casting envious glances our way, if I know the food on that craft) but the general openness is refreshing. If you like lunch it might be a good place to go. Certainly it offers a pleasant laid back atmosphere, with diners coming to enjoy the food and drink and a chat, not to be seen or to see others. The service was prompt and friendly in an ‘old fashioned’ way. No-nonsense eating in fact, which on most occasions is a high recommendation indeed. Of course, if you insist on linen napkins at every meal…
To find Lerts Ro, which is open for lunch from 11a.m. to 2 p.m. and in the evening from 5 p.m. until 9 p.m, the following should help. Starting from Amari Rin Kham as we did (OK, I live near there and we have to give a direction from somewhere!) head on the Super Highway towards Lamphun. Come off the main road and join the road which goes under the bridge and go on as though you are making a U-turn to head back (not left towards Le Crystal). Once under the bridge do not complete the turn but head straight on, into Wang Singh Khan Road, which has a signpost to Lam Yai Market. The ‘mews’ or cul-de-sac is about 250 metres on the left and the restaurant is immediately facing the entrance to that little road. The journey took us under 15 minutes. Their ‘phone number is 053-872-092.
 

 

Shepherd’s Pie

This is another of those traditional recipes which will continue to be popular with children forever. You can add or subtract items, depending upon what you have in the larder at the time!

Ingredients                              Serves 4-6
Ground beef                               500gm
Mushrooms, chopped                 200 gm
Onion chopped                           cup
Garlic finely minced                   2 large cloves
Salt                                          1 tspn
Ground black pepper to taste
Worcestershire sauce                1 tbspn
Beef stock                                 cup
Cream                                       cup
Garden peas                              cup
Potatoes                                   500gm
Cheddar cheese finely-shredded  2 cups
Mayonnaise                                cup
Milk                                            cup
Butter                                        2 tbspns

Cooking Method
Preheat oven to 375 F. Place ground beef, mushrooms, onion, garlic, salt, and pepper in a large heavy skillet. Sautee, breaking up beef, until the juices have almost evaporated. Stir in Worcestershire sauce, then cook for one minute, stirring often. Add beef stock, stirring to combine, then add cream. Simmer until gravy thickens. Pour into glass baking dish. Let cool slightly, then sprinkle green peas evenly on top of beef.
Boil potatoes in salted water until tender. Add 2 tablespoons of butter, and mash. Add enough of the milk to bring the mashed potatoes to a creamy consistency. Season well with salt and pepper. Spread evenly over beef layer then sprinkle Cheddar cheese on top.
Bake for about 45 minutes until cheese has melted and is slightly browned.