Hong Taew Inn:

Long established favourite on Nimmenhaemen Road

By Brian Baxter

Last week I reviewed a bustling, noisy restaurant called The Banana Tree. If one wanted to find a musical instrument to make a comparison a trumpet or timpani would be apt. By comparison the Hong Taew Inn (don’t be misled by the name which means Many Rooms Inn, it does not offer accommodation) would be a piccolo or harp. Horses for courses, as they say.

Now I have not checked the Chiang Mai Mail archives but it is possible that it has been reviewed in the past. Not by me, but possibly years ago since it has been established on the main road directly across from Soi 1, diagonally across from the Amari Rincome for as long as I can recall. It gets taken a little for granted, which is hard on any restaurant in these parlous times. It is a surprisingly spacious venue, running deep into the rear of the building, with high ceilings and an upstairs which I doubt is ever used.

To dispense with one minor criticism. Although it is a friendly enough place, there is very little atmosphere. One goes there for a quiet meal, with only the sound of the chimes from the dozens of clocks on the walls to ‘disturb’ the peace. Ideal for a business meal, to go for a friendly chat or for a small group who are perhaps not that used to Thai food and who can take advantage of the various set menus, which are good value and offer a selection of well known Thai dishes. It seems to be popular with visitors from the large hotel opposite or a few locals.

It is certainly comfortable enough and they have a reasonably large menu at reasonable prices. A range of beers are available at around 60 – 70 baht, although wine by the glass is – as we found – a little pricey. Wine is available by the bottle (Italasia are suppliers) and there are plenty of soft drinks. The menu is clearly given in Thai and English and there is a page for desserts, but I recommend in that case that you stroll to one of back rooms where you will find a super selection of home made ice creams. Scoops are very generous so one may well be enough.

There are various appetizers listed, noodle and stir fried dishes, curries, soups and so on. On my most recent visit with a Thai friend we made a choice of three dishes plus rice: tom yam kung, a dry red curry, chu chi kung and stir fried morning glory with garlic. The soup was suitably spicy, the curry a good contrast with an excellent sauce, a little on the creamy and sweet side as was to be expected with the vegetable coming in a so-so third. We followed these with an excellent ice cream. The bill with two bottles of water and a tip (but excluding the wine) came in at around 600 baht for two. Remember this is on the smart end of Nimmenhaemen Road and prices are likely to be on the higher side. Hong Taew Inn is open every day and can be found amongst a row of designer shops and galleries directly opposite Soi One on the main road just before Think Park.


Créme Glacée d’Asperges (cold asparagus soup)

In our current swelter, this is a most refreshing soup, similar to the Spanish Gazpacho. With asparagus being easy to procure, you can either cook the fresh variety, or even use tinned asparagus spears for this soup. The cooking is simple but requires a blender.

Ingredients                                        serves 4
Thin asparagus spears unpeeled, cooked 32 (680gms)
Asparagus cooking liquid (reserved)                180mls
Heavy cream                                                    60ml
Plain yoghurt                                                60 gms
Sour cream                                                 2 tbspns
Lemon juice                                                  2 tspns
Cucumber diced                                            30 gms
Pinch cayenne pepper
Salt and freshly ground white pepper
Chopped parsley and chives, for garnish

Cooking Method

Cut off approximately 4 cm pieces of the tip ends of the asparagus and put aside. Cut the remaining stems into 2.5cm pieces and put in a food processor until pureed, about 1 minute.

With the processor running, pour in the asparagus cooking liquid and process for 5 seconds. Add the heavy cream, yoghurt, sour cream and seasonings and process to combine, for about another 5 seconds. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the asparagus tips. Cover (glad wrap is fine) and refrigerate for 2 hours.

Just before serving, stir in the lemon juice. Adjust the seasonings and divide among four serving bowls. Garnish with the diced cucumber, parsley and chives and serve over ice for a further effect.