Krok Mong:

Excellent new Thai restaurant specialising in N.E. food

By Brian Baxter

Not many weeks ago, I was bemoaning the declining standards in many local restaurants, both Thai and farang. Food seemed of poorer quality, portions smaller, service lack lustre: cost cutting was the order of the day to ward off falling business. By May, we have a situation far worse, with empty eating places to go along with the general drop in business and the absence of tourists both home grown and incoming.

How nice then to report on a restaurant which is new and which offers food that is not ubiquitous in Chiang Mai, since many – though not all dishes - have their origins in the north eastern part of the Kingdom.

Krok Mong is a very reasonably priced, informal restaurant with a garden setting on the Super Highway, as you approach Amari Rincome junction (more details below). There is ample off road parking either side of the restaurant. Its name – I gather – refers to an implement used for crushing rice (husks). All information welcome! Someone will have a direct translation, I am certain.

The actual eating area is sheltered behind a glass ‘wall’, with plenty of greenery around and about 18 or twenty seats at tables, covered simply with check tablecloths. The cooking/preparation area is on view and all food is cooked to order except for the fish prepared on a large open grill. The staff is young and busy and makes up for any lack of ‘sophistication’ by being friendly and attentive.

The menu is set out very clearly, in both English and Thai, simply covering two sides of a plastic coated sheet. There is a separate menu for drinks and these include a few soft options other than water and just four popular beers in large bottles ranging from Chang at 55 baht up to Heineken at 85. Whisky is available by the bottle, from 350 baht and also includes fancier varieties such as Black Label. There’s no wine list but you could take your own, although we found that water and Singha beer (75 baht for a large size) suited the food admirably.

The menu is a model of directness. There are the following options/choices: fish (three), chicken (six), pork (six), salads (six), duck (three), and frog (six), plus vegetable dishes on demand. Dishes range from 30 baht to the fish at top whack (180 baht), which was spectacular, perfectly grilled and stuffed with a little garlic, leeks and other green vegetables. A treat, well worth having since it was very substantial, perfectly cooked through but not dry and very fresh. Rice comes in large individual portions.

On this occasion – I was with three Thais, two of whom originated from the area – we also had a salad and from the six choices went for the ‘special’. Papaya Fried Salad

(49baht), although other salads, including the fish or crab, also beckoned (30 baht). I asked for mixed stir fried vegetables and these came in a very large portion, al dente and cooked in oyster sauce, a little garlic and a dash of soy sauce. Very tasty.

A favourite with my Thai companions was the ‘difficult to find’ minced spicy duck (59 baht): other options include sliced grilled duck for the more faint hearted. They also went for the pork ribs in soup with leeks (59), but once again grilled options and other choices were on offer. In the chicken selections they also included grilled portions at either 60 or 120 baht. A meal in themselves.

Frog was available curried or in a mushroom soup. As for the other fish choices, they were both deep fried with different sauces but no doubt variations were available. All in all a very fairly priced and freshly prepared meal, the kind we expect in Chiang Mai. With a large beer each, it still came in at less than 200 baht a head with a tip. Easy to eat for half that.

You can find Krok Mong on the left of the Super Highway as you approach Amari Rincome Junction from Lamphun. It is about 250 metres before the large Esso garage and one kilometre before Grand View Hotel. Although set off the road a little, there is a steel barbecue on view and the sign – at present is only in Thai. Should you come from town, head for Mae Rim and make a U turn at Khuang Sing junction and head back a kilometre or two. Tel: 087 852 0334. They open from 11 in the morning until 11p.m.


Stuffed Potatoes with Crab

This is a very simple and filling appetizer that does not need much attention, and yet gives the impression that the cook has been slaving all day over a hot stove. It certainly is not a ten minute dish in preparation, but most of the time it does not need to be watched. The crab filling can be replaced by other tinned seafood.

Ingredients          serves 4
Potatoes                        4 large
Tinned crab in brine     1 medium
Onion, finely chopped  1 medium
Green pepper                 1 small
Cheddar cheese grated     50 gm
Milk                              125 mls
Butter                          2 tbspns
Salt                               1 tbspn

Cooking Method

Pre-heat oven to 180 degrees. Wash potatoes well, rub all over with salt and bake for one hour in the oven.

Drain the liquid from the seafood and mash with a fork.

Remove potatoes from oven and cut into halves. With a spoon, carefully scoop out the majority of the potato, leaving the skins intact. Mash the scooped potato with milk and butter, stir in the mashed seafood, onion and pepper and return the filling to the potato skins.

Return to the oven and bake for 10 minutes, then sprinkle the cheese over the tops and bake on high until cheese melts.

Serve immediately.