EATING OUT & RECIPES BY NOI
Huen Muan Jai; Northern food in a lovely atmosphere
By Heather Allen
This charming little restaurant is quite casual with
tables set in a terraced garden with small pools and garden
sculptures. Stepping through the small gates makes you feel
like you are truly in Northern Thailand. But even more so,
the food will really make you feel like you are in the
The menus are in English and in Thai but if you are not sure
of what to order then my suggestion is to do what I and my
dining companion did, guess and point! We did order a few
dishes we knew such as the sun dried beef and Northern laab,
but mostly we just looked at the menu and selected a few.
We were not disappointed in the food either. The portions
are not huge but are the size Thai dishes should be; enough
for a few people to share. This is really not a place for
solo dining as the food is Thai style but it is quite pretty
and romantic and is good for friends or couples. Apparently
the chef was a former competitor on the Thai Iron Chef and
it shows in the delicious food and charming atmosphere.
Some of the wait staff did speak English, quite well in fact
and if we had felt less adventurous I am certain they could
have helped us choose some dishes had we requested. We were
asked if we wanted the spicy food spicy (we said yes) which
is also a comfort for those who are concerned about overly
The food was delicious, I am not really sure exactly what we
ate, having forgotten to write down the names, but that is
the fun of such places; trying something entirely new! The
prices are quite reasonable, our bill consisted of several
dishes and sticky rice as well as a large beer and was under
500 baht for the two of us.
Huen Muan Jai is located on Ratchapuek Road. Coming East
down Huay Kaew Road turn left into the soi opposite the
Shell Station, go right around the corner and take the first
left. Huen Muan Jai is just a few metres up the road. They
do have parking but it is not extensive and it is a popular
restaurant. And for our reader that likes coordinates, I did
manage to find the ones for this restaurant. Open daily.
RECIPES BY NOI: Nam Phrik Nam Phak
Some call it just Nam Phak which is correct because it is
made from vegetables (Phak Kad) but when we add ground dried
chilies it can be called Nam Phrik Nam Phak.
I have to confess that I was very surprised knowing there
are so many different recipes for Nam Phak. I googled and
found many interesting ways to make it. In my village we do
it a very simple way.
In the cold season Phak Kad grows very well. We need to take
the one with flowers. Choose the young part and grind in a
stone grinder or nowadays you can use a blender. This
doesn’t really give the right texture but it’s ok. Add some
sticky rice and salt because after this we will leave it in
the container at room temperature for a couple of days.
Sticky rice will work like yeast to give a sour taste.
When it’s sour enough we need to fry it on a low fire and
afterwards we can keep it for months in the fridge.
How to eat it? Add ground dried chilies, chopped coriander
and some salt. It is highly recommended to eat with grilled
fish and radish pods (Phak Kee Hoot). Yum!
I found the other recipes, some use a bigger kind of Phak
Kad, some fry it until it dries up and then roll Nam Phak
into balls for this recipe we can keep it for a year. When
we want to eat it we just take it out from the fridge and
add some water in to it.
It looks so simple but amazingly needs a lot of skill.
Otherwise it might be too sour, too watery or extremely
In Chiang Mai we can find it in local markets but I never
seen it at the Kad Luang evening market.