Tamarind Village is well known for their
beautiful grounds, and charming poolside restaurant. Located
in the heart of the old city, they have some parking inside,
so it is possible to eat there without having to drive
around attempting to locate a parking space.
The restaurant, Ruen Tamarind, is trying
something new with their menu this month, Northern food,
cooked by a Northern cook in the traditional way. I went
with some friends to try out these new dishes cooked by
Uncle Tawat, who is the cook this month. Next month, they
will bring in a different local cook to try their
specialties. These are not your highly trained chefs making
fancy food. These are local Chiang Mai people who are
sharing their experience and accumulated wisdom about their
local cuisine with diners at the Village.
First up was a platter of starter dishes,
some really superb sauces to dip one’s lightly steamed
veggies in, and other, frankly, unknown dishes that were
very good. The platter is a generous size and the variety of
starters on it should please most palates.
We were then served a series of local
dishes, glass noodles with bamboo shoots, a sea bass curry,
a Burmese style curry with pork and a plate of something, I
must be honest here, I have no idea what. Some kind of
vegetable, spinachy in a way, they called it “local green
lettuce” but it was definitely not lettuce. Interesting and
unique flavors I must admit, some I have never even tried
before. They had a Northern version of laab with chicken
that was quite good but I must admit I do like more spice
than the average Northern Thai person. But it was pleasantly
spicy for the other less hardy diners.
Burmese style curry Kaeng Hang Lay with braised pork was
delicious, creamy and rich with lots of pork and some little
potato-like vegetable. Again, local ingredients that aren’t
always known. The sea bass curry was another such dish, fish
in a curry sauce with local elephant ear leaves. I must
confess I am not exactly sure what elephant ear leaves may
be. But it was tasty and different.
In addition to the above unknown dishes
were given lightly steamed and then stir fried vegetables,
mostly known! They were cooked just right, not too little so
as to be undercooked but not so much as to be soft and
mushy. The stir friend shredded bamboo shoots with minced
pork were flavorful as was the bamboo shoots in red curry
sauce with fried glass noodles.
Northern food is tasty, but certainly
less spicy than dishes from other regions of Thailand so
this may suit those who like a bit of spice but can’t handle
the three alarm fire type meals many Thais favor.
We ate Thai style, with sticky rice
wrapped in banana leaf, and shared all the dishes. I would
recommend that to those who visit the Tamarind Village as
the portions are quite generous.
The meal ended with a sweet fruit, glazed
santol in syrup with ice. Glazed fruit in syrup with ice is
a very traditional Thai sweet But I am, again, unsure what a
santol exactly is. Santol clearly is the English word but I
don’t think it means much of anything to those unfamiliar
with local fruits. Nevertheless, give it a try, it was
The poolside setting is very lovely with
lanterns floating on the surface at night, and in this cool
season, it’s nice to sit inside with the doors wide open,
looking out over the candlelit pool. Very romantic for those
looking for a special night out.
Tamarind Village will be changing the
menu and the cook on a monthly basis, scouring the
neighborhoods of Chiang Mai for local cooks. If you know of
someone particularly skilled in Northern cooking be sure to
get in touch with them!
Tamarind Village can be found inside the
moat, on Ratchadamnoern Avenue. 053-418896-9.