EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
Suntori offers the freshest fish
We are navigating the land of smiles often times a
tad bit lost, unable to fully wield Pasa Thai to our
fullest, patiently bearing barriers between us and our home.
Luckily, when we stay open and curious, we learn that much
more. There is a Japanese concept, “wabi sabi,” that is
untranslatable to English. Roughly, it represents the beauty
of something imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. Suntori
offers you a chance to transcend barriers and experience
Thailand in your blood.
The chef/owner of Suntori journeys three days a week (Wed to
Fri) all the way to Sriracha, Chonburi to select the best
catch to serve his customers the following four days. The
menu contains 4 pages of fish, a page of sashimi/nigiri
sets, lots of beer and sake options, and dependable side
dishes such as Gyoza, Tempura, and Udon. The menu is more of
a suggestion, and you should definitely leave ordering up to
the head of waitress and the chef (they’re the ones who know
the fish!). There are exactly about 15 photos of the chef
holding his most memorable catches with a fish- eating grin,
snapped in the middle of this 5 table restaurant.
Our group of five tried the Squid (grilled, with lime), Oni
Ari (sashimi plate), Kariki and Ike Katsuo (both grilled),
Nigiri Set B (tuna, salmon, shrimp, egg with fish eggs,
others), and of course, about 10 large Singhas. All the fish
can be prepared sashimi, nigiri, or grilled… this is art.
The chef is familiar with every part of the fish, and every
familiar swipe of his knife produces sashimi with the best
fat marbling I’ve seen and tasted (peek at the photos). Each
gleaming slice of sashimi is cut 2cm thick. This is the
purest, most tender sashimi I’ve tasted since my visit to
Tokyo. The grilled fish is cooked to perfection, and the
squid and octopus are must- have knockouts. Seriously, try
the grilled octopus and you will never view calamari the
same way. If you like beer, sake, or whiskey (some of us
more than others), they have a little or a lot of that for
Suntori has quietly garnered a significant number of loyal
Japanese expat diners in Chiang Mai, even though there are
seemingly more “Japanese-y” offerings elsewhere. Why? The
food is excellent, the fish and craft are respected, and the
service is perfect. But I can’t help but chocking it up to
some of that “wabi sabi” ness the Japanese have named, but
which we all appreciate. You see, every week different fish
travels from the shores of Sriracha, to the kitchen of
Suntori, through the loving expert hands of the chef, and to
your plate. What you experience is a true expression of the
land, which changes and is never “perfect”. Let’s leave the
$30 a sushi sliver extravangaza to the Jiro’s of Ginza
station, and to the shiny people of Sky Bar in Bangkok. I’m
in Chiang Mai, so I’ll take my fish uniquely Thai. Wasabi,
wabi sabi. The price of dinner with drinks ran 500THB,
without drinks 250THB.
Suntori is located inside Saha Sripoom Plaza on Manee
Nopparat Road (the northern moat road running east to west),
after the Buaraya Hotel and one street before Chang Phuak
Road. Right now there is a big sign reading “GALATO” that is
at the entrance of the Plaza.
Reservations are strongly recommended (the restaurant has
only 6 tables, comfortably spaced) Thursday to Tuesday, 11am
to 2pm; 5:30pm to 10pm. 05- 328- 7209, 08- 7023- 8898
RECIPES BY NOI
Laab Pla Khao (Northern recipe)
is a spicy minced meat salad. Any kind of meat can be
cooked; pork, beef, chicken, duck or fish but the
ingredients might be a little bit different depending which
meat you choose.
Fish might be the easiest to cook because it needs less
ingredients and spices but there is still a lot of work and
methods of preparation. That’s why we cook lab on special
occasions, because there will always be many people to help
prepare and also laab sounds similar to the word ‘Luck’ in
The best fish for laab is Pla Khao. It’s sheatfish
(Phalacronotus), one of the most highly valued fish species
in my hometown. It can be found in the Nam Ing river (a
branch river from the main Khong river) and natural ponds.
Most of people like eating this fish raw but it is better to
cook it by stir frying it in a couple spoonfuls of cooking
oil because eating raw freshwater fish might give us worms!
Chop 500g of fish meat with a little bit of galangal,
coriander, spring onion and Vietnamese coriander. Then boil
100g of the fish skin and chop into small pieces.
Then boil the fish bone in half a liter of water and add
lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and salt. Take off heat and
let it cool.
Then pound together roasted chili powder, 3 roasted
shallots, 5 cloves of garlic and a little bit of Ma
Khaen(Thai prickly ash tree seeds).
Then add the pounded spices in 100cc of soup. Salt is
allowed to add but fish sauce is forbidden because its smell
will destroy the smell of the spices will give the lab a
fishy smell instead. Stir to mix them together.
Add minced fish to the soup and mix them until the fish
becomes gluey then add the boiled fish skin.
Stir fry in 2 spoons of cooking oil.
Serve with fresh vegetables. Cucumber, long bean and cabbage
The next time we might do beef or pork for Laab, these are
more complicated however and need more spices. Enjoy eating!