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A taste of Germany in the heart of the Night Bazaar

By Paul Surtees
Situated at a busy corner of Chiang Mai’s Night Bazaar is an international restaurant, where a genuine taste of Germany can be experienced; the German Hofbrauhaus Y Casa Antonio (tel. 053 276 989), it is located almost opposite McDonald’s at 115/2-2, Loi Kroh Road.
It was started over thirty years ago by an expatriate German. Although the name Hofbrauhaus is taken from the world-famous beer hall in Munich, in fact this Chiang Mai establishment is not linked to the original, other than by style.
This open-fronted restaurant has traditional wooden furniture, antlers and alpine prints on the walls, and displays a large collection of German stein (beer mugs), such that the atmosphere within is like that of a small restaurant back in Germany. To add to this atmosphere, most of the staff wear traditional Bavarian costumes. As you eat and drink, a constantly-varied procession of Night Bazaar shoppers passes by in front. Interestingly for a downtown restaurant, it does not serve lunch, as it is only open from 3 p.m. to midnight, every day.
In this German atmosphere, a rather limited selection of German beers is available. For example, a large Erdinger draft will cost you THB 240. Their selection does however include some less well-known beverages, such as Alster (Heineken with Fanta) and Radler (Singha with Sprite), both at THB 95. Cocktails mostly cost THB 150 and their good choice of schnapps are priced at THB 180 a glass. House wine is THB 180 a glass. There is no wine list: if you seek a bottle of wine, the staff will bring along a selection of unopened bottles to your table, from which you can choose. The red wines, suprisingly, were brought to the table very well-chilled!
Starters include smoked ham with melon, and smoked salmon, both at THB 250, and a Caesar salad at THB 280. We chose one of their hearty soups, a Hungarian goulash at THB 140. Even in Hungary, such a rich, meat-laden soup would rarely be served: it was truly delicious! However, the hoped-for provision of that nice German-style rye bread as an accompaniment left us disappointed.
This place offers perhaps too wide a range of dishes, including such items as Thai prawn friend rice and Italian spaghetti Bolognaise (both at THB 250), pizzas, Thai curries, international steaks (an Australian one is priced at THB 980)and Spanish tortilla. Perhaps, as an originally-German restaurant, they would be better advised to return to serving just one type of national cuisine, and to focus on making that as authentic as possible?
Having said that, it must be stated that they do provide a goodly range of German specialties and these vary in quality only from the very good to the excellent. The traditional Weiner schnitzel I had was done to perfection. Furthermore, it was served along with those very tasty German-style potatoes, fried with bacon and onion. Sauerkraut can sometimes be rather bitter, but their home-made version of this traditional vegetable was also delicious.
As may be expected, they offer German-style desserts such as a strongly-flavoured cheesecake (THB 110) and a lovely version of the traditional apfel strudel with vanilla sauce at THB 140.
The service is attentive here: the pepper mill arrived within seconds of our requesting it, and they brought the mustard even before they were asked for it! This establishment, then, can provide a tasty and hearty meal, washed down with some fine beverages, and a typical three-course meal for two with a nice glass of German beer each would range from about THB 1,500 to 2,000. (Photo courtesy of takeaway via Wikimedia Commons)

RECIPES BY NOI: Nam Phrik Pla Ha Moo Sab

Chili paste with fermented fish

Now it’s time for a little fragrant recipe with Pla Ra. Pla Ra or in the north we call it Pla Ha is fermented freshwater fish by adding salt and roasted rice powder to the fish then ferment it for months (when we do ours in small amounts it takes about 3-4 months depending on the weather, high temperature during summer is the best to get quick Pla Ra).
In the north and north eastern Thailand are the main area producing and consuming it. Most of people think that it comes from the Northeast but my experience has been that people from Phrae province love the tastes and fragrance of Pla ra. I had a neighbor married to a Phrae woman and she added Pla Ra to almost every meal she cooked.
Actually it can be added to many dishes but when it’s rainy season like this, the Pla Ra that we made during summer is ready and we liked to cook it to bring to work in the rice field, planting rice. It’s called Nam Phrik Pla ra but to make it tasted more variety we will add minced pork and call it Nam Phrik Pla Ra Moo Sab.
To make it first roast chili and garlic then pound them together. Please do not add salt because we will add Pla ra and it’s normally very salty.
Now let’s stir fry minced pork until it’s well-cooked and add chili paste. Now you may add more salt if you prefer it quite salty. If any of my readers does cook it let me know and I will bring some boiled vegetables to go with the dish.

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