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Homemade Japanese food in an intimate setting

By Heather Allen
I recently visited Hatena on Nimmanhaeminda Road, Soi 11 with a few friends and while the outside is a bit unprepossessing the interior is cozy and charming with the feel of an old Japanese inn. The staff are friendly and attentive and the food, delicious at fairly reasonable prices. My friends were hungry and ordered a wide variety of dishes, including kimchee, which was interesting to find at a Japanese restaurant.

I had the beef sashimi which was tender and quite good if simply presented and quite reasonable for the price (about 220 baht). My friends ordered gyoza, or Japanese dumplings which were quite delicious. Not overly cooked so as to be hard but nor were the undercooked and chewy. The filling was quite tasty. They also ordered a tasty pork dish with an unknown ‘special sauce’, which was quite tasty in fact. Both the beef and pork here are quite tender and not chewy in the least. A good find in Chiang Mai.

Outside is a little ramen stand, it didn’t appear to be part of the restaurant but they were happy to allow my hungry friend to bring in a bowl of ramen from the stand. The noodles were quite good and appeared to be homemade. The broth was delicious and the enormous bowl was brimming with meat, vegetables and noodles. Needless to say, my friend didn’t quite manage to finish it all.

The atmosphere is quite cozy and has either traditional chairs and tables or the larger seats with the hole in the floor for those who don’t feel quite so comfortable sitting on their feet for an entire meal. They had several beers on offer including Singha, but since we were eating Japanese food we felt a bottle of Asahi was in order. They only serve the large bottles so be aware of that when ordering or you will end up with two large bottles of beer like we did.

The restaurant has a small but pretty comprehensive menu with sashimi as well as other traditional Japanese fare. It is a popular place among many of the local Thais and Japanese expats and now, after my first visit, I can see why.

Hatena is found on Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 11 just past the Why Not restaurant and is open in the evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.



Kaeng Pak Kee Hoot

(Radish pods curry with catfish)

Pak Kee Hoot is the Thai radish, we eat the pods and flowers so I really have no clue if it has roots like the western radish and how those roots taste. It also it makes me wonder if the western radish pod tastes the same as Thai ones or not. Poor western radish! People just eat it’s root a long long time before it can produce flowers and pods. I looked up recipes for the western radish pods. I believe they taste all good.

Kaeng Pak Kee Hoot
(Radish pods curry with catfish)

Like the western radish, it likes cool weather so it is usually found in someone’s backyard during the cool season, that is most likely why it can only be found in Northern Thailand. It grows fast, does not need much care and can be cooked in different menus.
Today we’ll cook a curry with fish called ‘Kaeng Pak Kee Hoot’

First, we start off with the curry paste! You will need 2-5 cloves of garlic, 1-2 shallots, 5-10 dry chilies, 1 stalk of lemon grass, teaspoon of shrimp paste and 3 teaspoons of salt. Pound them together until well pulverized. This is the same curry paste s our Banana Blossom Curry from the last issue.

Now for the curry, 300 g of Pak Pak Kee Hoot : I suggest to nip off the head and tail part of the pods and roughly crush them by hand before cooking.
300g of catfish : chop into 2cm thick pieces (you can use pork, pork ribs or beef instead)
5-10 cherry tomatoes

500ml water, the curry paste and fish sauce to taste.
Boil the water and add as much chili paste as you prefer

Add the fish and wait until the soup boils again then add the Pak Kee Hoot and cherry tomatoes. Watch closely as it only takes a few minutes to cook the vegetables. When tender remove from heat. Add fish sauce to taste.
Good news! Now enjoy eating.

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