Some old favourites revisited:

Thai food in an ‘imaginary jungle’

By Brian Baxter

Contributors to this column have – over many years – reviewed every style of eating place from the local Thai stalls and hide-aways and would-be bistros to the upper reaches of Tengoku de Cuisine and the smart dining rooms of five star hotels. Few can have reported on anything quite like this very large eating place which is found in the Hang Dong area: (location and contact details are given at the end of the column).

Khaomao-Khaofang is a venue which aims at offering more than just good Thai food and sensible prices. Its design offers a feeling of space (tables are well set apart) and a sense of being far outside the city. Behind the large parking area set off the main road, they offer in their own words ‘an imaginary jungle’.

The central eating area (which is flanked by more ‘discreet’ annexes and a large air conditioned ‘coffee lounge’) is inevitably artificial since the ‘trees’ support a vast domed roof, with a water feature in the centre. The surrounds include a lake, some pretty waterfalls and the ‘jungle’. Minus any marauding animals, that is.

The seating potential is high, but in the current low season the concentration was on airiness. Recently there was a party of 30 to 40 boisterous students on the far side of the restaurant but they caused little concern. My Thai companion and I were seated nearer the water and thanks to many fans and the openness it seemed cool. Apparently in high season (remember that folks from a few years ago?) it attracts many Thai and tourist groups. With a drop of some 80 per cent in visitors to the Rose of the North that is not the case at present.

Service was professional and attentive (rather annoyingly so, since we first ordered drinks and then found that the waiter stood poised at the table whilst we wished to check the large menu before ordering) though inevitably it lacked the personal touch of more ‘local’ style eateries. Our Singha beers came quickly and the food followed soon after, piping hot and quite plentiful. There was no wine list on show but I noticed later that Italasia had a display of wines and there were some on the counter. Still we were happy with the local brew.

We chose stir fried vegetables, a soup for my friend, deep fried fillets of fish with mixed herbs and a curry with prawns. Plus rice, of course. The bill with a tip and including two large beers came to 700 baht and seemed – given the quality and the ambiance par for the course. I guess this is an ideal place to take out of town visitors or perhaps a family or other group who might feel crowded in a conventional restaurant. That said there are plenty of ‘cosy’ sections for dinner ‘a deux’.

They are open from 11a.m. until 10p.m. each day and the phone numbers are 053 838444 or 053 441908. They have a website at and the location is 181 Moo 7 Ratchaphruek Road, Nonglaval, Hang Dong, Chiang Mai 50230. They are a few minutes drive from the Airport area and about three kilometres away from the Hang Dong Big C.


Mussels with tomato wine sauce

Mussel dishes are world-wide, and this recipe comes from the US, where they assure me that it only has 151 calories per serve! In Thailand mussels are cheap and plentiful.

Ingredients               Serves 4
Mussels                                          1 kg
Unsalted margarine                1 tbspn
Onion, minced                         1 small
Garlic, minced                         1 clove
Tomatoes, coarsely chopped 4 large
Dry white wine                           cup
Salt and pepper to taste

Fresh parsley, minced         1 tbspn

Cooking method

Scrub and de-beard the mussels under running water. Prepare a steamer and place the mussels on the top. Steam the mussels for around seven to eight minutes, or until they have opened. Important: discard any that remain closed.

Meanwhile, in a medium sized saucepan, saut้ onion in margarine, stirring over medium heat for two minutes. Stir in the garlic, saut้ for 30 seconds, then add the tomatoes. Cook the tomatoes for two minutes, then add the wine and salt and pepper to taste.

Now quickly bring the tomatoes to a boil for around five minutes, until the sauce is thick. Stir in parsley and keep the sauce over very low heat.

Break off the empty half of the mussel shells and arrange the mussels on serving plates. Spoon some of the sauce over each mussel and serve immediately.