A new year round up of favourite eating places: by Mark Whitman

Last week I listed three restaurants which I will certainly add to my list of ‘regular favourites’. To start this year: a selection of those which have remained consistent in providing decent quality food at sensible prices and where the service is friendly and efficient and the ambience pleasant. The list does not claim to be comprehensive and most names will be familiar to regular readers. The order is random and these are simply places which I visit weekly, fortnightly or monthly and always enjoy.
Kitchen Nimmen: Or perhaps better known as Krit’s. This is my ‘local’ and I go there often, as do many farangs especially those who live in Hillside 4 (it is just opposite) or in the Huay Kaew Road area. Thai food, well executed and not too dear. Check the black board for the week’s specials. Friendly staff and a nice bar, La Vie en Rose, next door for an aperitif or after dinner drink or coffee. Tel: 053 895 199.
Pasta Café: If you walk on past West’s and Krit’s in Fah Tani Square you will find a couple of hundred metres on, this super value Italian restaurant. Check out the daily specials (the sea bass is really a must) and the set meals which are remarkable value at around 250 baht. Garden seating or air con. inside, with friendly and very efficient service. Large portions. Find them at the bottom of Soi 3.
Koh Lanta Pizza: At the top end of the next soi (5) off Nimmenhaeminda Road you will find this unpretentious little pizza ‘parlour’ which offers well topped pizzas (6, 8 and 10 inch) and a few pasta dishes. Plus wine, low priced beers and soft drinks. It is next door to Rico de Rica. Take away service available. Tel: 053 212 022.
Chez Marco: Moving into town and the insalubrious Loi Kroh Road, this bustling Mediterranean themed eating place has a steady clientele of regulars and passing trade. Booking is a good idea. There are set menus every day offering amazing value and a wide ranging menu and decent wines, often ‘promoted’. Portions of pasta are huge, the tuna starter (I go for the facon provencale) is delectable and the chef owner is ebullient and friendly.
Hot Chilli: Just a few minutes walk from Thapae Gate (head down ‘walking street’ and turn left at Rachdamnoen Road) you will find one of the most attractive Thai restaurants in the City. It shares garden space with Il Girasole – also worth a visit – and there is parking space outside. The ‘tented’ style decoration, central bar and large tables are a plus but naturally the food is paramount and this is cooked in the open kitchen and not expensive. Don’t be put off by the name if you like your Thai food ‘mild’, since everything is prepared to order and can be adapted to your taste. Tel: 081 716 7975.
Ney Ney: One of the great mysteries to me is why this local Thai restaurant fails to attract more farangs, leaving all its excellent food to Thais! It is not smart but it surely is a fun place with a good guitarist singer and his ‘drummer’ sidekick keeping things lively. The waiters are as handsome as they are attentive and lively. The fish is a specialty and draft Leo is very fairly priced. I go here regularly and often take groups of Thais. You will find it off the Super Highway a couple of hundred metres before Grand View Hotel, heading towards Amari Rincome.
The House: At the other end of the price scale this elegant dining room (and its Thai ‘neighbour’ under the same management – Ginger Café) remains one of the best places in town for top quality food in what might be called fusion style. The building is one of the nicest in Chiang Mai and the main dining area is an oasis of calm on Moon Muang Road. Agreed it is not cheap but then it offers a stylish ambience, ‘silver service’ and top quality ingredients. You can take your own wine (300 baht corkage) and look out for the ‘specials’ offering set meals if you wish to cut down on the cost. Tel: 053 419 001.
Moxies at D2: I never let a month pass without one visit to this stylish ground floor level restaurant in the hotel which you can find in the heart of the Night Bazaar. The special buffets are often spectacular and they have a beer garden and barbecues. But the main restaurant is also a treat with its fusion menu and excellent cocktails. The staff is charming and attentive and the ‘space’ is one of the nicest in town. Again not cheap but worth a visit with
visiting friends or as a treat.
And if the above don’t satisfy you then here are a handful more which are also worth checking out: West’s (080 122 7136) offers inexpensive set lunches and dinners and the best puddings in town: Billy’s at Kampaengdin Road (053 272 7121) is especially friendly and serves decent Italian food: other Italian venues worth looking up include Da Mattia, La Fontana and the smart Beccofino: if you want a large and fun place try Mo’C Mo’L next to CMU on Huay Kaew Road, past Canal Road: and also Thai try Café de Nimmen, at the Rooms section next to Soi 17 on Nimmenhaeminda Road for one of the best Thai menus in town. Happy eating and happy New Year.


Cajun Chicken Sandwich

This is certainly not your average sandwich, and one that does take 25 minutes from idea to plate (10 mins preparation and 15 mins cooking), so perhaps double the quantities so you have a second one to enjoy as well.
Chinese Five Spice is more easily obtained that Cajun seasoning.

Ingredients                            Serves one
Skinless, boneless, chicken breast         ˝
Cajun seasoning                              1 tspn
or Chinese five-spice powder            ˝ tspn
Salt and ground pepper to taste
Juice of                                       ˝ lemon
Mild blue cheese                             ˝ cup
Mayonnaise                                  1 tbspn
Cherry tomatoes, halved                         4
Salad onion, sliced                                 1
Handful of salad greens
Bread                                           2 slices

Cooking Methodd
Season the chicken with salt, your choice of spices, and pepper. Cook chicken in a nonstick frying pan for five minutes, then turn and cook for about another four minutes until cooked through but still moist and juicy. Now squeeze a little lemon juice over it.
While the chicken is cooking blend together the blue cheese and mayonnaise.
Layer the salad ingredients on top of the slice of bread and slice the chicken thinly and place on top, followed by the blue cheese mayo.
Sandwich together with the remaining bread and eat warm.