Vol. IX No. 38 - Tuesday
November 16 - Tuesday November 30, 2010



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EATING OUT & KHUN OCHA'S COOKBOOK
 

Soup ‘n’ Steak

Popular restaurant now incorporating Darling Bar

By Mark Whitman

Despite many recommendations from friends and acquaintances to visit this increasingly popular eating place on Huay Kaew Road (it opened in June), I was never that tempted. Odd you might – justifiably – think when people were extolling its ‘great value’, ‘friendly owner’ (formerly of Mike’s Burger fame), ‘tasty food’ and so on. My feeble excuse? Mainly the name. I don’t care for soups, certainly not as part of a meal and I never eat steak, let alone a hamburger. In fact the idea of a McDonalds’ free and cowless society would be one of my fondest wishes.

But then I met the amiable owner who was arranging a special event at Soup ‘n’ Steak for a Burmese refugee, Thia Yarza, whose experiences during 18 years imprisonment at the hands of that country’s vile junta are recorded in a newly published book No Easy Road. We chatted and he explained that soup was simply one of the many starters, the sirloin steak was a special of the house but there were many options, including pastas, salads and fish, plus home made desserts. Also from November 1st Darling Wine Bar would be incorporated into the rear of the spacious restaurant.

How could I resist? The menu is exclusively farang and offers very good value. There are ‘sets’ which offer the best deals but nothing is expensive - with pastas at under 100 baht and even the fancy steak at 249, with all the trimmings. On my recent visit I started with a tomato salad with onions, which comes with a little round of garlic bread (49 baht). Other starters include saut้ed mushrooms, salads and of course ‘soup of the day’. The menu is clearly laid out and illustrated, which goes some way to excusing the lack of a Thai translation.

The main courses are divided among fish, larger salads, pastas and meat dishes. I opted for the tuna steak, which comes garnished (greenery and coleslaw, plus tartare sauce) and with a choice of potatoes – I went for the croquettes (149 baht). The tuna was correctly cooked, seared on the outside, nicely pink inside. My only complaint was that it arrived before I was half way through the tomato dish – a Thai habit in a farang restaurant!

I’d enjoyed a glass of white wine as an aperitif and with the tomatoes and then tried the house red (both 90 baht);

bottles are available and I look forward to the choice of a glass from slightly better wines in the future, but the house choice was fine. I rounded off with a suitably creamy cr่me brulee, and a nice crunchy top. My bill with the wines and a tip came in at under 500 baht, but it would be easy to be less ‘extravagant’.

There are popular Sunday lunches (roasts included) and there is promise of draft beer in the future to supplement the many bottled varieties available. And even better news is the likely arrival of a couple of cheeses – a stilton and a camembert, but produced locally. I had a preview of the ‘English’ cheese and can promise you that it was amazingly good. Watch this space!

They are open from quite early in the morning (10a.m.0 for lunch and until 10p.m. in the evenings, seven days a week. You will find them amongst the small run of restaurants (Mexican, Taiwanese, Japanese and Thai) on Huay Kaew Road, directly opposite the Shell Garage and round the corner from the Nakornping Condo. Soup ‘n ‘ Steak has some 40 covers so you usually get a seat immediately along with a warm welcome from the charming staff and ‘the boss’, the young Thai chef. It seems to fill a niche in the crowded Chiang Mai restaurant scene and the addition of the small bar should increase its popularity.

 

Chinese Garlic Chicken

Garlic is a wonderfully versatile vegetable, and is also ascribed as having many healthy properties. This recipe can be adapted to use other meats, with scallops, prawn and pork all being suitable.

Ingredients               Serves 4
Chicken breast                    400 gm
Bell pepper half a small red one
Garlic finely chopped              1 tspn
Light soy sauce                   1 tbspn
Oyster sauce                       1 tbspn
Rice wine                            1 tbspn
Corn flour (cornstarch)            1 tspn
Sunflower oil                      2 tbspns
Sesame oil                            1 tspn
Coriander leaves chopped for garnish

Cooking Method

Slice the chicken breast and cut into bite-sized pieces. Dice the bell pepper. Finely chop the garlic. Mix the soy sauce, oyster sauce, and rice wine (you can use sherry as a substitute). Mix corn flour with cold water in a separate container and have all the ingredients ready before starting to cook.

Heat wok, add sunflower oil and swirl to spread oil. Turn down to low heat and stir-fry garlic for a few seconds. Do not let it brown or it will taste bitter.

Increase heat, add bell pepper and stir-fry for one minute. Add chicken meat and stir-fry for 30 seconds. Pour in the mixed seasonings, stir in the corn flour mixture very slowly, stirring until the sauce begins to boil and thickens. Sprinkle sesame oil over the food, garnish with coriander and serve immediately with rice.



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