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January 1 - Saturday January 15, 2011



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EATING OUT & KHUN OCHA'S COOKBOOK
 

Real Chinese food in Chiang Mai

By Shana Kongmun

I first lived in Taiwan before coming to Thailand and learned one thing rather quickly, the overly sweet and sauced dishes common in Chinese restaurants were not to be found there. Instead they had all sorts of interesting foods, from a spicy dish made with octopus mouths (! beaks?, no idea!) to chicken feet soup (not too bad actually but I can’t say I ate too much of it). The dishes available were varied and savory and well, frankly, delicious. One of my favorite meals at the time was jiaozi or steamed dumplings with pork and something called Papaya Milk (muguo nionai) a creamy milky delicious drink made with, obviously, papaya.

There is a tiny little hole in the wall restaurant in Bangkok that serves the favored dumplings and fantastic Chinese fried rice (somehow vastly different from Thai fried rice) but it wasn’t until a friend introduced me to the Taiwan restaurant on Huay Kaew road that I had discovered authentic dumplings here in Chiang Mai. They moved around the corner, behind Vieng Ping Condos, thankfully to a more light filled and cleaner if a bit more sterile restaurant. Sadly still no papaya milk to be found in Thailand tho!

Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a fine meal out, the restaurant is pretty basic. But, if you crave real Chinese food, then this definitely has to be on your list of restaurants.

The jiaozi, or steamed dumplings were truly delicious. Pan fried is also available and also good. Stuffed with pork, they had the right amount of garlic flavor and they had soy sauce of chili flavored sauces available at hand. Jiaozi can be difficult to make right, often bland or overly soft, these were cooked to perfection. I admit, I go back regularly for this dish.

I had the fried rice with ham, it was pretty good but a little on the sweet side. Portions are generous and prices reasonable. A plate of 12 dumplings is only 50 baht. A real bargain considering. While the ambiance is again, not the best, this isn’t one of those places for fine dining. It’s simple, unpretentious Chinese food. They have a really nice selection of vegetarian dishes as well as traditional Chinese soups. The hot and sour soup is filled to the brim with vegetables, tofu and chicken and if it’s not spicy enough then there are condiments on the side to add more spice.

They offer some unique Taiwanese dishes (I am afraid I wasn’t brave enough to try the pig knuckle) and an interesting vegetable dish. What the vegetable is, I am unsure. It’s not Chinese kale or cabbage, not morning glory. But, they did have stir fried morning glory on offer if you aren’t adventurous enough to try the unknown vegetable! The menu is pretty extensive for such a small restaurant, but the service is quick and the food cooked fresh right after you order it in traditional Chinese style. I can’t say I know how much English they speak but the menu is in English and has photos too, so you can simply point at the dish you want.

Beer is also reasonably priced, 75 baht for a large Singha, they also offer Chinese teas, with chrysanthemum as one of the specialties. Open daily from 9 a.m.to 9 p.m they are located down the small soi opposite the Shell gas station at Huay Kaew road, you can find them on the left hand side of the soi at the very end.

 

Vietnamese Crabmeat and Asparagus soup

Like many Vietnamese dishes, compared to Thai recipes and taste, this one is somewhat different from the Thai variety, but this soup does have some spiciness. You can add or subtract more chilli if required, but the recipe will produce a dish that the expat palate can handle, as the chilli is used more as a garnish.

Ingredients               Serves 4
Chicken stock                        1 litre
Fish sauce                           2 tspns
White pepper                      1/4 tspn
Canned asparagus              9 spears
Crab meat (shredded, tinned) 200 gm
Egg white                             3 eggs
Spring onions chopped                  2
Fresh red and green chilli chopped

Cooking method

Boil the stock in a deep pot and add fish sauce and white pepper. Cut asparagus into 6 cm lengths and add to the stock, along with the crabmeat.

Turn down the heat and simmer for two minutes, then whisk the egg whites and stir into the soup, forming white threads in the soup and cook gently for another minute. Place in serving bowl and garnish with the spring onions and chilli.



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