by Mark Whitman
Atmospheric Japanese- Thai Restaurant near Chang Puak
This charming and characterful little soi restaurant is
mainly ‘Japanese’, with a dash of Thai. But don’t expect the
ubiquitous tempura and sushi and other standards, the menu
is more original (and far cheaper) than many eating places
claiming this cuisine. It is easily found in the soi just
past the Jiffy (formerly Jet) garage on the left, heading
from Huay Kaew Road before you reach Chang Puak market and
main road. Further details below.
The immediately noticeable thing about Nine Lives, along
with the cat motif, is the unpretentious and cosy atmosphere
which strikes one on entering. There are paintings and
photographs on the walls along with notices. The wooden
benches and chairs are at large and solid tables. There is a
bar to the left and a table inside the door with information
leaflets, including details of their own activities.
The attractive but not intrusive background music (modern
jazz and similar) reflects the casual air and is a welcome
contrast to the over-loud level of some (even good)
restaurants. I don’t wish to suggest that this is an amateur
night out, far from it. The staff is welcoming and prompt
and the menu is clearly laid out (including many
photographs) and the prices exceptionally reasonable. If you
stick to the freely given mineral water expect to pay around
150 baht a head for a plentiful and tasty meal.
I originally went at the instigation of this paper’s Bridge
correspondent and was pleased at the recommendation since,
although it is easy to find, it is just as easily missed
being tucked in a small soi that one tends to pass by in a
car or on a motor cycle. I went first with my Thai partner
and again later with another Thai, both of whom approved.
On the first occasion we opted for drinks (which sent up the
price, though not markedly so). We had Singha beer (50
baht), which I prefer to the rather dry Asahi from Japan.
There are also other beers on offer, along with cocktails,
spirits and soft drinks and tea or coffee. Given the choice
we went for a carafe of warm sake (170 baht for 250 cc.) and
very good it was too.
Our food came in pleasant fits and starts, neither rushed
nor dilatory: first to arrive was a little dish of fried
strips of mushroom. Now I must say that I do not enjoy these
edible fungi when they are lightly cooked, finding the
slippery texture unpalatable. But here they were crispy and
rather chewy – and very’ moreish’. They and the next up dish
of Wabane (seaweed salad) were each 50 baht and made
delightfully contrasted ‘starters’.
Our main meal comprised rice wrapped in a light omelet. Mine
was plain, my friend’s with chicken and both were very
substantial – one would be enough for two moderate eaters.
With them we had a spicy dish of stir- fried morning glory
with garlic and chili (50 baht), a plate of little
sprat-like fish and a somewhat larger grilled fish. This
feast with a tip came in at just 600 for two. As you’ll see
half of this was accounted for by the accompanying alcohol.
Everything was freshly cooked to order and a couple of
choices were made from the daily specials, listed on a
little blackboard. The service was very friendly and
attentive. Nine Lives is not large and seems to cater for
people who drop in for a casual meal or just for a drink at
On Wednesdays they have live music with two different
programmes; one starting at 7 p.m. and the second an hour
later. There are also infrequent film screenings and
discussions, which are advertised in advance, The most
recent - a 40-minute movie, attended by the director, was on
September 9th so I guess another will be scheduled soon.
These are free.
Nine Lives seeks to be an easy going dining out experience
as well as a local meeting place. On the Sunday evening I
first went it was quiet and I would imagine that it has a
regular clientele. It deserves to be better known and was a
little busier on a later weekday. Certainly I can see it
becoming a regular eating venue for food that is just
slightly out of the ordinary and exceptional value.
You will find them at 242/14 Manee Nopparat road. T.
Sriphum. A. Muang Chiang Mai 50200. As mentioned above, the
lane is quite small and is on the left facing the moat as
you head in to town from the end of Huay Kaew Road, a few
hundred metres down and immediately past the large Jiffy
petrol station. Telephone 053-404-455.
Nam Sod (Thai Spicy Pork Salad)
This week’s recipe is a traditional Thai salad. It is a spicy
salad, but you can decrease the amount of chilies if desired. Great with cold
Ground pork very lean 2 cups
Salt 1 tspn
Ginger finely chopped 1 tspn
Lime juice 6 tbspns
Roasted peanuts ½ cup
Chopped red onions ½ cup
Red chilies coarsely chopped 1 tbspn
Lettuce and cabbage leaves, washed and dried
Combine ground pork, salt
and lime juice. Place in a piece of clean and moderately dampened
muslin or cheesecloth. Squeeze many times to extract as much liquid
from the pork as possible. Reserve this pork liquid in a saucepan
and simmer over low heat until only about three tablespoons remain.
Add the ground pork and cook just until it is no longer pink.
Remove from the heat and sprinkle peanuts, ginger, onions and
chilies. Toss together lightly and set aside. Arrange lettuce and
cabbage leaves in a serving dish and spoon the pork salad into the
center. Serve immediately as an appetizer with the lettuce and