EATING OUT & KHUN OCHA'S COOKBOOK
Homemade Japanese food in an intimate setting
By Heather Allen
I recently visited Hatena on
Nimmanhaeminda Road, Soi 11 with a few friends and while the outside is a
bit unprepossessing the interior is cozy and charming with the feel of an
old Japanese inn. The staff are friendly and attentive and the food,
delicious at fairly reasonable prices. My friends were hungry and ordered a
wide variety of dishes, including kimchee, which was interesting to find at
a Japanese restaurant.
I had the beef sashimi which was tender
and quite good if simply presented and quite reasonable for the price (about
220 baht). My friends ordered gyoza, or Japanese dumplings which were quite
delicious. Not overly cooked so as to be hard but nor were the undercooked
and chewy. The filling was quite tasty. They also ordered a tasty pork dish
with an unknown ‘special sauce’, which was quite tasty in fact. Both the
beef and pork here are quite tender and not chewy in the least. A good find
in Chiang Mai.
Outside is a little ramen stand, it
didn’t appear to be part of the restaurant but they were happy to allow my
hungry friend to bring in a bowl of ramen from the stand. The noodles were
quite good and appeared to be homemade. The broth was delicious and the
enormous bowl was brimming with meat, vegetables and noodles. Needless to
say, my friend didn’t quite manage to finish it all.
The atmosphere is quite cozy and has
either traditional chairs and tables or the larger seats with the hole in
the floor for those who don’t feel quite so comfortable sitting on their
feet for an entire meal. They had several beers on offer including Singha,
but since we were eating Japanese food we felt a bottle of Asahi was in
order. They only serve the large bottles so be aware of that when ordering
or you will end up with two large bottles of beer like we did.
The restaurant has a small but pretty
comprehensive menu with sashimi as well as other traditional Japanese fare.
It is a popular place among many of the local Thais and Japanese expats and
now, after my first visit, I can see why.
Hatena is found on Nimmanhaemin Road,
Soi 11 just past the Why Not restaurant and is open in the evenings from 6
p.m. to 10 p.m.
A Thai Vanilla without leaves
Leafless vanilla (Vanilla
aphylla, Orchidaceae). To the left is a reduced leaf. To the right is an
aerial root. The main stem is in the centre.
The mountain Chiang Dao as
seen from the village Chiang Dao. It is a Permian calcareous rock reaching
2225 meters. In January in the year 2000, the temperature at 2100 meters was
-8°C! The Dendrobium orchid species at that elevation still survived, which
is an important observation to understand that temperature is not the reason
why there are no epiphytic orchids in Europe.
By Eric Danell, Dokmai Garden
Dokmai Garden arranged for a tour to
Chiang Dao to visit Kurt Keller and his orchid collection. He and his Thai
wife Malee runs Malee’s Nature Lovers Bungalows. Kurt has an interesting
background. He was born in Switzerland and in junior highs chool he became
an exchange student and spent a year in California. One of his classmates
was Steve Jobs. Kurt began working within photography and studied the
physics of photo chemistry. Kurt’s orchid collection contains some 300
species, the majority acquired just in three years from various CITES
certified specialty dealers. The collection helps Kurt identify species in
the surrounding Wildlife Sanctuary Chiang Dao. Kurt has also volunteered to
become an Orchid Scout, i.e. to share his field observations about natural
habitats with the Orchid Ark.
It is always good to study many
different orchid nurseries. Kurt’s nursery at 450 meters above the sea level
is fairly lightly shaded (less than 50%) because he says he gets more
blossoms if it is lighter. He keeps the orchids hanging well above one metre
to reduce standing moisture which may cause rot. Orchids demanding more
shade are hung under orchids which are more light demanding. As to watering,
he, like me, prefers to do the watering himself by hand. This allows for
frequent control of what is going on, i.e. control of pests, general health
and of course when a flower is about to bloom. Kurt only waters once a day.
The textbook recommendation is to water in the morning so that the orchids
can dry out during the day, thereby avoiding rot. We both agreed though that
at least in this climate following the monsoon must be successful too, i.e.
to water in the early evening which is the normal time for the rains to
Kurt’s garden is so well kept that
indigenous orchid species like Acriopsis indica show up like weeds, even on
the wooden panels of the bungalows.
Among Kurt’s many enchanting species is
for example Dendrobium cruentum, a rare and endangered species from the
south of Thailand. He said he had never seen any fruits, so we hand
pollinated one flower and Kurt generously declared that he would donate the
fruit to the Orchid Ark if successful.
Another curiosity is Vanilla aphylla.
Although not in blossom, it was most interesting to see an almost leafless
Vanilla. This indigenous orchid plant makes most of its carbohydrates via
the chlorophyll of the stem, and possibly also derives some via the orchid
mycorrhiza fungus. Kurt grows one in the ground which climbs up the bark of
a palm, and he keeps two specimens in perforated plastic bags with sand
stuffed into hanging baskets. Kurt generously shared this peculiar species
with the Orchid Ark, for which we are most grateful.
A surprise treat was a show of 3D
pictures of Kurt’s orchids. That was simply AMAZING! Here we could see the
flower of the leafless vanilla, magnified to about a meter in three
dimensions. It felt as if I hold the flower in my lap! For this you need a
normal camera for taking macro pictures, you always take two pictures of the
same object from different angles (move to the side about 3% of the distance
to the object), you need a special program (Stereophotomaker), you need a
special 3D TV and you need high resolution 3D glasses. We discussed this
technique thoroughly and we decided to investigate if this could be used by
the Orchid Ark as a pedagogic tool to create an interest in endangered but
We enjoyed a delicious lunch with home
baked bread, and we noticed that in spite of the rainy season (today was a
gorgeous day) Kurt and Malee had many guests. We believe the warm and
welcoming atmosphere is the explanation. Kurt said that the bird watchers
dominate the guests, but I hope in the future the garden world will discover
the botanical treasures in the Chiang Mai province. We hope to be back soon
and to visit the mountain in late October or early November, just at the
beginning of the dry season.
Spice up your tomato soup
Tomato soup has a wonderful history. Originally thought
to be poisonous, the French called them “pommes d’amour”, or love apples, as
they thought them to have aphrodisiacal properties.
In 1897, soup mogul Joseph Campbell
came out with condensed tomato soup, which set the company on the road to
wealth as well as further endearing the tomato to the general public.
Campbell may have made tomato soup
popular, but the first recipe is credited to Maria Parloa whose 1872 book
“The Appledore Cook Book” describes her tomato chowder.
Worcestershire sauce 1 tbspn
Ground black pepper
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Sauté
onion and garlic until onion is tender.
Add carrot and celery; cook 7 to 9
minutes until tender, stirring frequently. Stir in tomatoes, broth,
Worcestershire sauce, salt, thyme, pepper and Chili sauce. Reduce heat to
low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes, stirring frequently. Serve piping hot
with crusty French bread.
Spice up your tomato soup
One of the most popular breakfast items is surely
scrambled eggs. Unfortunately, there are many breakfast cooks who simply
whisk the eggs, drop in the frying pan, toss a couple of times and serve.
Such a shame, as the morning scrambled egg does not need much embellishment
to make it into an interesting, as well as wholesome, dish.
|Ingredients Serves 4
Ground black pepper 1/8 tspn
Large tomato, chopped
Finely chopped shallots 1 tbspn
In a mixing bowl, beat eggs, milk, salt, and ground black
pepper together until well blended. Melt butter in frying pan over
medium-low heat until hot (or if being very health-conscious, use
polyunsaturated margarine); pour in egg mixture. Reduce heat. As mixture
begins to set on bottom and sides of skillet, lift and fold over with
Cook until eggs are almost set; fold in tomato and shallots. Heat scrambled
eggs through; serve immediately.
(If you wish to give this recipe even more flavor, add chopped green and red
capsicum with the tomato and shallots and one teaspoon of chopped coriander
leaf as garnish.)
Garlic Mushroom Soup
Soups are all year favorites, but there is a limit to how
many cream of chicken soups you can eat in one lifetime. This soup is a
simple recipe, but provides a different tasting and nourishing soup for the
family. All the ingredients can be found at the local fresh market, and
although the original recipe calls for button mushrooms, any fleshy mushroom
|Ingredients Serves 4
Onion, peeled and chopped 1
White button mushrooms 250 gm
Salt and pepper
Parsley freshly chopped 2 tbspns
Heat the oil in a saucepan and gently cook the onion
until soft but not colored.
Trim, clean and slice the mushrooms and add to the pan, along with half the
parsley, the lemon zest and season well.
Cook for 3-4 minutes until the mushrooms start to soften.
Now add the stock and bring to the boil. Simmer for five minutes until
Take off the heat.
Add the crushed garlic and the rest of the parsley.
Stir and then liquidize with a soup blender.
Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary, and serve in four individual soup
Chinese garlic chicken with bean sprouts
This week’s recipe is an original Chinese dish from
Peking, but over the years has been progressively refined, to make it more
of a western item these days. However, it is very flavorsome - just don’t
overdo the tomato ketchup! You can also substitute prawn for chicken.
|Ingredients Serves 4
Sliced chicken breast 125 gm
Red chilli seeded, sliced 1 small
Ginger root, grated fresh ½ tspn
Wash the bean sprouts under cold water, then line a
colander with paper towel and shake until dried.
Remove skin and slice the chicken breast into bite-sized pieces.
In the wok heat the oil and add the crushed garlic and stir-fry until golden
brown, then scoop out the garlic and discard. Add the chicken breast, finely
sliced chilli, then the bean sprouts and stir-fry quickly for 30 seconds.
Now add the salt, vinegar, sugar, tomato ketchup, ginger root and chicken
stock. Bring quickly to the boil and leave for one minute.
Serve in a warmed dish with steamed jasmine rice.