Nine lives

Characterful and inexpensive Japanese/Thai restaurant

By Brian Baxter

Quite recently I went to this modest neighbourhood restaurant after too long an absence. It offers Japanese food of a slightly unusual style, with a dash of Thai. The three farang friends and I enjoyed it so much that I returned just a few days latter with a Thai, who found it equally pleasant.

What makes it so special, apart from the astonishingly low prices, is the range of food and the absence of conventional dishes that the more conservative normally associate with Japanese food – sashimi, tempura and sushi for example. All fine and even wonderful but like – say Pad Thai or Tom Yam Gai just the tip of a national iceberg.

Nine Lives offers some 40 dishes on a clearly laid out menu. They also have a ‘sit up’ bar and serve a wide range of drinks, which can be enjoyed without eating. We ordered as we went along, starting with five dishes and then adding to them or occasionally doubling up if something seemed especially moreish, like the little plate of tasty mushrooms which had a wonderfully nutty or ‘meaty’ flavour. Other initial dishes were salmon, an omelet stuffed with pork and vegetables, pork Tyoza (dumplings) and grilled sardines.

I got to choose the next round, so along with the mushrooms came a quite scrumptious serving of grilled eggplant – as good as any of us had ever tasted (often at four times the price) – more salmon (this timed steamed), some stir fried slightly spicy morning glory and some breaded squid. A couple of those were also repeated, along with more grilled fish. Two of us had brought a bottle of wine each (there was no corkage charge, but don’t bank on that as a general rule) so when the bill came for this mini banquet we queried it as being too low to be correct. An astonishing 600 baht for four full meals.

The following week just two of us managed to run up a smaller though similar bill but this included a Singha beer(50 baht) for me, a glass of house red ( 80 baht) for my friend and a small carafe of sake (120 baht). Once again the individual dishes were all around 50 baht and on this occasion included a steaming bowl of noodles with boiled egg and naturally that eggplant and the grilled sardines.

Now it must be said that Nine Lives is a modest local eatery, not a fancy dining out experience. The service is friendly, not rushed and the cooking is done to order by the charming owner. The tables are sturdy and the chairs solid wood. They can seat about 24 customers, including the bar area and a couple on a small terrace – no doubt for the smokers. The restaurant gets its name from the cat motif, with lots of cute models on display of which my favourite was a very aloof white china cat with a look of cool disdain for all around him – rather like the actor Clifton Webb, I thought. There was just one real four legged friend, who lay on a high bookshelf and looked the picture of contentment.

You can find Nine Lives in a little soi on the left just past the large Jiffy/LPG petrol station opposite the moat on Manee Nopparat Road. If you get to the end of Huay Kaew Road and head towards Chang Puak you will find the soi on the left just after the garage. It is about 20 metres down the little road. This is one way so take the next on the left, and park at the bottom of the soi if you go by your own transport. Get off at the end of the soi on the main road if you taken. 242/14 is easily found but in case of a problem you can phone on either 086 672 0225 or 053 404 455 and ask for Oi. They open in the evenings only.


You can be a Cordon Bleu chef with a chicken

Chicken “Cordon Bleu” is a satisfying dish for both the cook and the diners, though the chicken might have other ideas. “Cordon bleu” comes from L’Ordre des Chevaliers du Saint Esprit, a 1578 AD elite group of French knights. The group became known for their extravagant and luxurious banquets, known as “cordon bleu” (blue ribbon).

Ingredients                              Serves 4
Skinless, boneless chicken breasts         4
Ham slices                                            4
Swiss cheese                                50 gm
Egg                                                      1
Milk                                            100 ml
Bread crumbs                              2 cups

The Easy Sauce

Cream of chicken soup                100 ml
All-purpose whipping cream         500 ml

Mix together and stir constantly over stove on low heat. 
When sauce is hot, pour into dish
to be served over the chicken cordon bleu.

Cooking Method

Flatten chicken breasts with the heel of your hand. Wrap a slice of ham around a piece of cheese about 5 cm long and 0.5 cm wide and then wrap the chicken breast around the ham and cheese.

Dip the breasts in flour, then in the egg wash (a beaten egg in 100 ml milk) and then in finely crushed bread crumbs. Brown in hot oil about 4 minutes a side.

Finish the chicken cordon bleu in the microwave on medium for around one minute to ensure the cheese has melted.