EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
Cuisine De Garden
Superlative food from Chiang Mai’s most innovative chef
By Brian Baxter
Please bear with me in case you think that I am
losing what little credibility I might have as a journalist
and reviewer but I urge you to try this innovative dining
experience before judging me too harshly. It offers – I
believe – the most original and intriguing (and enjoyable)
menu in the City. And at a price that should make other more
famous eateries blush with shame as they trade on their
grand surroundings and fine quality imported ingredients
which require skill but little imagination in their
Cuisine de Garden is an attractive venue but it is in no way
‘grand’. The accent is on space, natural textures – wood,
fabrics, stone – and a quiet confidence that suggests a
person in charge of all proceedings dedicated to excellent
service and fine dining. The only way I can think of
conveying the quality and innovation is by describing a
couple of recent dining experiences there. The place itself
is not easy to find but once there parking is easy.
Tables are well spaced and at one end of the room is the
kitchen and towards the other end a bar. There’s a short but
decent wine list (getting expensive at the top end but
corkage is only 200 baht if you take your own). The set menu
comprises five starters, six main courses and three
desserts. You may choose two or three courses but I can
think of no reason on earth except extreme impoverishment
not to try one of the sublime puddings.
Once the order is taken for the first courses you are
offered an amuse bouche, one of those little starters that
should bring a smile to your lips. And how! Most recently I
enjoyed little pieces of excellent smoked salmon, topped
with black caviar, with shavings of mustard ice cream on the
side. Pink, black and white heaven. My starter was
Terrarium: a fabulous smoke infused mixed green salad served
in a pail. It accompanied Spanish ham, served with a navel
orange confit, with a small phial of balsamic as a dressing.
This was followed by an intense mango sorbet.
My favourite of the main courses so far has been the free
range Cornish hen (perfectly cooked), accompanied by chicken
liver pate wrapped in Edamame – betraying the Japanese
influence to some of the dishes- with a peach puree and
truffle lemon jus. If ‘chicken’ seems too ordinary to you
then go for the lamb tenderloin with a coriander coating
served with miso eggplant and garlic cream or the excellent
cod or… well any of the others on the changing menu.
The desserts are all quite light but then none of the
courses are ‘heavy’ (this is not the venue for greedy
eaters, quality rules not excessive quantity). I loved the
jasmine rice ice cream, which was only just pipped by the
nougat style Rock ice cream, served with macadamia cream.
Possible the most fun is the Juice in Spherification - a
series of ten little wooden spoons each holding a marble
sized explosion of ‘frozen’ juice which bursts in the mouth.
A fitting end to a whole menu where such an experie nce is
correct to describe the pleasure of dining at Cuisine de
I understand that the Thai chef was originally trained in
Chiang Mai but is largely self-taught. Certainly one can
detect influences from other areas, modern European,
Japanese and classic French each tuned to a specific dish.
The restaurant is closed on Monday but open for lunch and
dinner Tuesday to Sunday. The three course menu (with the
mentioned extras included plus delicious rolls or toast and
a herbal tea at the end) is only 799 baht: two courses for
599 baht. For reservations phone 053 441 599, 99/moo 11,
Nong Chai, Hang Dong 50230.
To get there from the Airport or from Canal Road head along
highway 108 towards Hang Dong, cross the large junction with
a right turn to Samoeng and head to the next traffic lights
where you filter to the right . The turning is about 80
metres across from the traffic light. Head down the soi and
you will find Cusine de Garden on your right about one
kilometre along the road. It is well lit and parking
available immediately outside. Happy eating! (Further info
on www. facebook.com /cuisine de garden or on the internet).
RECIPES BY NOI: Khanom Kleua; the boy’s heartbreaker!
For this recipe we are going way back in time, before my
father met my mother when he was younger than I am now.
There were no streets where he lived, no electricity, no
cars and of course no internet for dating sites! Young men
would walk past girls’ houses after work to show interest.
If he was interested he would visit her home and meet her
parents. Boys would walk together to the village where their
Parents with daughters would prepare sweets, snacks and
cigarettes to welcome the boys. Khanom kleua was a favorite
of parents but not of boys. It is salty and made from rice
flour so very filling, after eating a few pieces they would
feel very full and need to leave soon. Boys served khanom
kleua would know that the parents don’t like them so either
give up or try harder to impress the parents the next time.
It is not super salty but if we don’t like someone then we
can make a very salty one for him! We can also make it
sweeter by adding brown sugar instead of salt. If you have a
daughter of dating age here is the recipe to cook in case
her boyfriend pays you a visit.
We need rice flour, salt or brown sugar, coconut milk or
clean water and banana leaves for wrapping.
Mix rice flour with salt or brown sugar then slowly add
coconut milk (add water is ok too but if we add salt with
coconut milk the khanom will taste creamy which some people
like it that way).
Stir until it’s well mixed and thick like cooking cream.
Cook it in a pot or wok on low fire and stir until it’s
almost cooked. Remove from heat and wrap it in banana leaves
then steam for 20-30 minutes.
We can also add young peanuts or young coconut meat in the
Khanom to make it tastier.