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Billy Restaurant

By Heather Allen
Although I recently said I rarely venture out to the Night Bazaar area, this month seems to have been my time to do so. I recently visited Billy Restaurant on Kampaeng Din road and must say that it was a bit of a chore to find. The affable and friendly owner, Billy, a charming man from Burma who worked in well-known Italian restaurants in Chiang Mai and the North for many years, was encouraged to remedy the sign situation as not only I, but my friend, drove past his restaurant trying to find it.

To miss it would be a shame; Billy offers tasty Italian food with very good portions and interesting combinations at very reasonable prices. His small café style restaurant seems to be popular with expats and Thais living in the area as even though it was a week night, several tables were full despite it being low season.

His dishes range in price from around 120-200 Baht each and his pasta selection was quite good with all the pasta under 140 Baht. I had penne in a cream sauce with a generous amount of spicy Italian sausage. My friend had a very nice salmon steak with salad and a cream sauce while another friend had the pizza. The pizza was thin and crispy although not as thin as the true Italian style can be and, a bonus, Billy is generous with his toppings, something that can often be lacking in other places. I confess, I prefer a pizza with plenty of food on it!

The service is friendly and prompt and the atmosphere homey. A far cry from last issue’s very elegant meal at Le Crystal, but then it isn’t easy to remain elegant for every meal! Billy Restaurant is located on Kampaeng Din Road, if you turn right from Loi Kroh it is right next to Wat Chiang Kong. Open daily from Noon to 11 p.m.



Bamboo shoot curry

What food suits rainy season most? It doesn’t take too long for me to give the answer. Kaeng Noh Mai (Bamboo shoots with mushroom curry) is the symbol of rainy season in the North. Although people in my village believe that the bamboo shoot has no nutrition and that eating an egg gives more nutrients than the bamboo shoots from the whole mountain. Also it’s forbidden for the sick people or those recovering from an illness to eat, my grandmother told me they believe the illness will come back if you do.

However, bamboo shoots are very high in fiber and protein, low in cholesterol and saturated fat.

To make the curry paste take 5-10 fresh chilies, 5-10 cloves of garlic, 1 tsp of shrimp paste and pound them together roughly.

Then, take 600 g of thinly sliced bamboo shoots, 250 g of pork, 50 g of wild betel leaves, 50 g of Acacia pennata, and 100 g of the interestingly named “Jew’s Ear mushroom” also known as the jelly ear mushroom, some salt, 2 tbsp of Pla Ra (fermented fish) and 1.5 l of water.

Boil the bamboo shoots for about 30 minutes to remove the bitter taste, then clean it out with cold water.

Boil the 1.5 l of water and add chili paste, then bamboo shoots and pork. When the pork is cooked add Pla Ra and the mushrooms. Remove from the heat, salt to taste then add the acacia and wild betel leaves.

We really love having Kaeng Noh Mai for lunch because in the morning we go hunting bamboo shoots in the mountains and come back home to cook it for lunch.

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