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Smart new Eatery just off Nimmanhaemin Road

By Brian Baxter

The first impression one gets of the (fairly) recently opened VULCAN0 is that of confidence: the designers and backers of this stylish, 100- seater restaurant obviously believed in the concept and saw it through to a successful conclusion. Many eating places fall by the wayside in Chiang Mai. Vulcano looks as though it is here to stay and if I were an out of towner I would certainly be tempted to use the hotel which covers the top floors of the building.
Vulcano is on Soi Sai Nam Peung, not that far from the junction with Soi 17 and parking is easy. It occupies a large new building, fronted by an extensive patio with seats for drinking or casual dining. On the ground floor the dining area is to the right of the entrance and to the left is a very large wine ‘store’ from where you can select your wine and even buy some imported Italian food products.
Up the wide stairs there is a further dining area, a bar to one side and a small stage, where live music is offered on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings- a different group each day – with singer Art’s relaxed parade of the American song book as a special favourite for us oldies on Wednesdays and more up to date offerings on the weekends.
Having eaten there seven or eight times we have some to know the menu, which is reasonably extensive and veers towards Italian food, with a good selection of pizza and pasta among the many choices. (There is a genuine pizza oven producing thin crust choices on the ground floor level and the four cheese pizza is among the very best in the City - worth sharing as a starter).
The menu has a good selection of starters, including excellent grilled vegetables, thinly sliced beef, a selection of cut meats, a wonderful Italian platter with cheeses, olives etc. added to the more meaty offerings. And good news these and other main course are all very reasonably priced, averaging 160 to 250 for portions big enough to share –especially as complimentary gnocchi are also offered on arrival.
The main courses include a wide choice of pasta dishes, plus a couple of superb risottos, gnocchi, the excellent pizzas (around 200 baht) and a number of meat and fish dishes, including steaks (300 to 500 baht), sea bass and some vegetarian offerings. There is fully stocked bar and as a special treat they offer superb draft Belgian beer alongside more regular choices.
The service is affable and apart from a mix up on one occasion when a pizza arrived before the starters, it is efficient. It’s important to note that this is a relaxed, spacious and comfortable restaurant with no pretentions to fine dining. The menu is full of tempting dishes, colourfully shown but no one will claim that they offer rack of lamb to compete with Café Mini or an onion soup to rival that in La Fourchette. But the ambiance, the comfortable chairs and large tables, the music and the airiness of the venue make it a most attractive place to be. They open at 7a.m. for breakfast (don’t forget there is a hotel on the two upper floors) and close at midnight. 088 137 9210 and 084 173 6239.



Kua-stir fry / Phak Hom-Thai spinach

After eating spinach, Popeye becomes super strong, almost like the Hulk and can then always save his girl, Olive Oyl from the giant villain Bluto. At least, that is what my parents told me to convince me to eat Phak Hom! It was quite hard for me to believe because to me Phak Hom did not taste good when I was a kid (we are talking about silly Noi 20 years ago!). I preferred just having a simple omelet because to me Phak Hom was a kind of weed in our garden. Phak Hom will grow side by side with other vegetables sometime it can be even double size taller than our tomato plants. The worst thing is that the full grown Phak Hom plant has thorns which will give a painful itchy feeling if pricked! So, it was always pulled from the garden when it was very young.
However I have acquired a taste for Phak Hom as it is very healthy!
Here’s how we cook it.
Pound dry chili and garlic then stir fry with a few spoons of oil. Add chopped galangal and lemongrass, stir fry for some fragrance then add dried fish. When the fish is cooked add spinach and fish sauce. It only need a few minutes to be cooked. We eat with deep fried dry chili.
If you don’t like dried fish you can add pork or egg.
Enjoy dinner!

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