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EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
 

An oasis of calm in the busy Nimman area

El Patio

By Heather Allen
I confess I am not a fan of buffet style dinners; somehow that “all you can eat” title seems like a challenge. I am also not a fan of huge portions, while certainly value for money I was taught to clean my plate, especially at a restaurant and so I feel compelled to eat it all. If you want bite size portions at reasonable prices and a stunning glass or three of wine, then El Patio on Nimmanhaemin Soi 11 is your place.
The ambiance is great; an open air walled in patio with a real Spanish feel. It is cozy without being claustrophobic. There are comfortable couches to lounge on while sipping your wine and savoring your tapas. For the hot season there is an inside air conditioned room, or for those who just like to sit inside. The owner plans on putting up some kind of retractable roof for the rainy season. It is lovely and relaxing; an oasis of calm in the heart of busy Nimmanhaemin.
But the food is the main focus of any eating out review, of course. The chef is a charming and friendly young Spanish man who makes some really unique and exquisite food. The brie and sai oua (Chiang Mai sausage) on bread is fabulous and really just a perfect combination. You only get one piece per order so be sure and order a few of these. The garlic prawns are deliciously garlicky, just the way I like something that has the name garlic in it. I have never understood those people who order some dish with the name “garlic” in it and then complain that there is too much garlic!
I really liked the seafood salad with passionfruit dressing served in a little passionfruit cup. In fact, many of the seafood dishes were my favorites including the deep fried squid, although I must say the lamb skewers were tender and juicy. There are a few vegetarian options as well including mushroom croquettes and a really creamy but tiny shot glass of pumpkin soup. The asparagus in tempura was crunchy and not bitter like asparagus can sometimes be here in Thailand.
Chris recommended a fresh Mesta white wine for us to try and it certainly went well with the food. All in all, this restaurant is a repeat on my list when I want a relaxing place to eat and chat with good friends.
Each individual tapas is served separately and prices range from 15 to 35 baht per piece. El Patio is open daily 5 p.m. to after midnight and is located directly on Nimmanhaemin Soi 11 next to Beer Republic.


 

RECIPES BY NOI: Nam Phrik Jao

It’s very rare and unusual to eat Nam Phrik Jao in my village. I went to a market to buy some ingredients for the menu and I had many questions from the seller and villagers ‘Who’s heading south?’ or ‘Are you going to Bangkok?’
It’s a very popular chili paste to take away from home because its ingredients are deep fried so it can keep for a long time. Going to Bangkok from my village takes 12 hours by bus. People who are away from home for a long time are happy when they bring mom’s homemade food with them. At least they can feel home even though it’s almost 800 km away. My sister would stuff almost a kilo of mom’s chili paste in her fridge in Samut Prakarn; it last for months.
Jao in northern language means “stir fry with a little bit of oil” (Thod is deep fried). So we first need to deep fry sliced shallots and garlic. Then pound dry chilies with salt. When the chili is well pulverized we’ll mix it with the deep fried shallot and garlic. No need to pound but just stir until well mixed. Some people will add deep fried kaffir lime leaves and lemon grass which is also a good combination. Then we need to heat a couple spoonfuls of cooking oil in a pan and throw our ingredients in to stir fry for a few minutes. After that just remove from heat and leave until cool and then store in well-sealed container and keep in the fridge.
I like to stir fried minced pork and add it to the chili paste to give more taste but it might not last for months because the pork. I guarantee it’s going to be finished before it goes bad though!


 
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EATING OUT

RECIPES BY NOI