Wanlamun : By Brian Baxter

Charming restaurant and patisserie in central Chiang Mai

This very attractive venue manages the seemingly impossible, being most things to most people without compromising standards. In one elegant garden setting, it operates as a café and restaurant serving Thai food, with a fusion or western slant (open all day, but closed Mondays) plus a salon de the, within an air conditioned room to the rear of the premises.

In the salon they offer a wide range of superior quality teas and coffees and soft drinks, with as fine a selection of cakes and pastries as you will find anywhere in the city – or many other cities outside of Thailand. The term divinely decadent springs to mind.

I went there recently on a Sunday afternoon with a farang friend and we found it exceptionally comfortable and cool amongst the March onslaught of smoke and heat. The room is furnished in a “French’ style, with well upholstered chairs at decent sized tables. The walls have reproductions of well known paintings and the inevitable copies of famous ads for posh fragrances. Teas and coffees are beautifully served and the tarts and other delights are of top quality.

However, this is a ‘sideline’ to the main operation (though these and other puddings are available on the main menu) and I have paid two visits to Wanlamun (it means sweet or ‘special’ I am told) for dinner. Both visits confirm that this is a good value and rather unusual addition to the many eating places in town. It is set in a pleasant garden on soi 2 at Chang Moi (they have a parking area) and has well spaced tables and can accommodate around 30 plus customers. The menu comes in an illustrated version and in a very clear conventional style. There are innumerable soft drinks and teas and coffees on offer, but only two beers (large Heineken at 120 baht and large Singha at 110) and no wines. No doubt you are welcome to take your own.

The menu is extensive and primarily Thai based but there are a few western style soups, mushroom and pumpkin (both 120 baht) and lobster bisque (145) included. There are also various pastas available (120 – 185 baht) and some have slightly unusual sauces, including tamarind with chicken and prawn.

On both occasions mentioned we went for the Thai offerings, though on the second visit one dish was Japanese influenced; grilled salmon teriyaki with soy sauce (135 baht).

A highlight of one meal was deep fried Tilapia with a tamarind sauce served on the side (245 baht). This was served in small pieces of filleted fish, very lightly fried. It went well with the prawns served with a very generous portion of stir fried broccoli, cooked al dente. The rice (15 baht) is served in individual small bowls. Other dishes of note on the very large menu include curried duck and other meat dishes, a selection of western and Thai salads. The choice is wide but I urge you to save room for a pudding, even if it is a light panna cotta or something fancier.

The service is perfectly suited to the venue: attentive, though mildly impersonal. The overall feeling of the restaurant is one of great care in the presentation of the food and the overall setting. A meal with a beer and service should come in at between 350 and 500 baht, which is good value for the very superior quality food and ambiance. You will find Wanlamun at 1 Chang Moi, Soi 2, and Chiang Mai 50300. It is a little way from the moat and Thapae Gate and the ‘phone number is 053 232 318.


French or Belgian Fries?

First historical mention of a chip-maker was Fritz from Belgium in 1857. There is even a photograph taken at the fun-fair in Liege in 1891 which shows a food stall with the sign “Fritz Le Doyen de la Friture” (Fritz, the Dean of Deep-frying) and “L’Inventeur des Frites” (The Inventor of Fries!). In addition in 1862, Fritz is mentioned in a handbook about Antwerp as having a chip kiosk near the train station. In 1889 a new restaurant “Brebant” opened in the top of the very French Eiffel Tower with “Les Frites Belge” (Belgian Fries) on the menu. The Belgians rest their case! The “French fry” could very well just be a copy!

Potatoes, good quality, medium size

Cooking Methodd
Wash, then peel then rewash the potatoes. Cut into slices 1 cm thick. Now cut the slices into sticks 1 cm thick and maximum of 5 cm long. Wash the sticks again in clear water and dry thoroughly.

Heat the oil to 160 degrees and cook chipped potatoes for 5 to 6 minutes. Remove and drain until required.

Now heat oil to 180 degrees (nearly smoking) and cook until the outside is crisp and golden. Remove and drain, season with salt and serve your Belgian Fries - the chip with history!