Asahi - Japanese restaurant near the Night Bazaar:
by Mark Whitman
There are dozens of Japanese eating places throughout the
city, ranging from the ultra smart Tengoku, opposite the
Mandarin Oriental, through to several in the Airport Plaza
alone and many local and small, though excellent, places
such as Tsunami, opposite Chiang Mai University on Huay Kaew
Surely it must be the cuisine, alongside Italian, which
comes after Thai as the most popular in Chiang Mai. No doubt
someone will tell me that Chinese also belongs high up on
the list but personally I have yet to find more than a
couple of good examples here: they certainly seem less
ubiquitous. Chinese food seems to have lost its popularity
in the U.K. and maybe elsewhere, perhaps because of
excessive use of MSG.
Even if you don’t know the restaurant under review – Asahi –
you may well know the Japanese beer of the same name, and
may well have eaten at other Asahi venues, either at
Suvarnhabumi Airport or as far away as the U.S.A. and
elsewhere. This one is decidedly nearer to us and can be
found towards the top end (not far from the Chedi) of Sri
Don Chai Road, with the Night Bazaar to the left and the
French Consulate to the right.
sits somewhere in the middle price range for Japanese
eateries in Chiang Mai and as you will know it is far from
the cheapest food available, dependent as it is on ultra
fresh ingredients and – at its best – super quality fish and
meat. Even so, it need not break the bank balance and at
Asahi they boast around 100 different dishes, with many at
80 to 120 baht.
It is an authentic example of the innumerable, very
functional, restaurants to be found in its home country,
though, thankfully, without the intrusive televisions which
abound in those offering faster service. Asahi is spotlessly
clean and offers good quality food in highly colourful and
rather brightly little surroundings, with a somewhat Spartan
feel to the tables and surroundings, reminiscent of a very
up market canteen.
There are about 30 covers inside and a further handful on
the little ‘patio’ outside facing the busy street. They also
offer a private room for between six and 10 people. There is
a sushi bar on the right as you enter with the red topped
tables mainly to the left and a couple on the right past the
I’ve visited it a number of times and always enjoyed the
food. For me it is a good stopping off place for an early
meal before the screenings at Alliance Francaise on Friday
nights. One can park the car at the Consulate, wander back
(a five minute walk) and still be in time for the 8 p.m.
performance, with the pleasant service being utterly
reliable but not over effusive.
Along with the many food choices, there is also a
comprehensive drinks menu. Asahi beer of course but others
including Singha (90 baht for a large bottle) are available
along with imported vodkas and Sake: the former served ice
cold and the latter ideally warm. They also sell wines,
which I have never sampled, soft drinks and naturally
Japanese teas, which I consider the best in the world.
Like other Asian cuisines, it is best shared. You might go
for some sushi, freshly prepared, perhaps with a seafood
topping or wrapped in nori seaweed. Or the tuna on sushi
rice (80 baht). A particular favourite of mine is the fillet
of salmon in salt and soy, cooked to perfection (120 baht).
There is also raw salmon on rice, served in a bowl at 240
baht and other raw, finely cut white fish and tuna. There
are soups, vegetable dishes, including simply served and
delicious asparagus, grilled in butter plus tempura and
other familiar choices.
All of the food is nicely presented on small dishes, with
plenty of soy, shredded ginger and wassabee served on the
side. It is difficult to suggest a price level, which
depends so much on choice and quantity and, naturally,
alcohol consumption. Between 300 and 500 baht with a beer
and service would be a fair guide. Remember this is high
protein good quality food and that does not seem
unreasonable. You will find Asahi at 98/2 Sri Don Chai Road
and they open from 5 p.m. every day. They also do home
deliveries. Their ‘phone numbers are 053 275 323 or 084 150
Barbecued Citrus Garlic Prawns
Prawns are plentiful. Citrus is available all year round. And
here’s a very easily prepared and quick dish (ready in 15 minutes - 10 minutes
preparation and 5 minutes cooking, but don’t forget the one hour marinade) as an
appetizer for up to 12 guests.
This is an easy marinade for prawns, delicious and succulent cooked on the
Olive oil 125ml
Dijon mustard 1 tbspn
Garlic, crushed 3 cloves
1 tspn, or to taste
White wine (optional) 2 tbspns
Tiger or king prawns 30 uncooked
Shell the prawns and
remove the heads, tails and the vein from the spine cutting down
with a small knife. In a glass dish, mix together the olive oil,
mustard, garlic, lemon juice, orange juice, basil and white wine.
Add the prawns, and stir to coat. Place in a Ziploc bag and let
marinate for 1 hour in the refrigerator, turning once.
Heat barbecue to high heat.
Thread prawns on to skewers that have been soaking in water for 20
minutes and cook on barbecue for 3 to 5 minutes, turning once, until
they turn pink.