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DINING OUT & Khun Ocha's Cookbook

A Meat-Lover’s Paradise At Kantary Hills Hotel

Meat eater’s buffet at the Carvery Night buffet dinner at Kantary Hills Hotel.

by Paul Surtees; pictures by Sunny Leung.

Although it is situated near the bustling Nimmanhaemin Road (at 44, 44/1-2 Soi 12 Nimmanhaemin Road/ tel. 053 222 111), the Kantary Hills Hotel offers a fairly secluded setting, because it is set back off a quiet soi. They even have outside seating, under cover from the rains, which is a pleasant option as these cooler months reach Chiang Mai.

A fine array of breads, as well as desserts and many other dishes make this a great deal;

Their main restaurant offers a variety of buffets. On other weekday evenings, an extensive salad buffet is laid on there – which, in fact, embraces much more than simply salad items. Their smoked salmon is one of the more memorable salad accompaniments. That costs THB 270 each, plus tax and service.

But on Wednesdays, meat-lovers descend on the place to partake of their carvery night buffet, from 6 to 10pm. Our group reached there at 6:30 pm, at which hour there were not many diners. However, by an hour later it was full, requiring the frequent replenishment of the food supplies set out on the buffet tables – which was done efficiently.

Cocktails were a reasonable THB 150 each, and this place offers a wider-than-usual choice of wines by the glass, as well as by the bottle. Their carvery night meat buffet costs THB 640 per person, plus tax and service.

A large selection of salads is provided – so many, that you would struggle to try them all. A wide range of salad dressings and accompaniments was provided. There was also a suitably-meaty Mexican spicy soup, containing mixed vegetables plus delicious meatballs. The range of breads included sliced baguette, German salted rolls, grissoni and more.

A rare Yorkshire pudding at the Kantary Hills Nimman Grill Carvery night.

On the other hand, while their offerings of sliced meats did included a tasty shredded chicken, it also incorporated less-impressive spam, rather than ham. Another memorable and toothsome starter there was truffle gnocchi in a rich cream sauce. That went well together with their broccoli with almonds. Grilled shrimps were also available, as was a more unusual dish – ox tongue in a rich sauce, which was great.

Another buffet table offered spare ribs, roasted chicken, and an enormous red snapper, cooked to perfection, from which you could carve off the pieces yourself. Actually, the flesh of this fish simply fell off the bone, since it was well-cooked to tenderness.

The grilled joints of meat included roast Australian lamb, from which slices are carved off for you. This was presented rather underdone – as many people like it. However, on request they will roast it for a little longer, for those of us who prefer to have our roast meats well done. That was accompanied by mint jelly – the first time I have seen this traditional accompaniment to lamb here in Chiang Mai. The roast joint selection of course also included a local beefsteak, with huge slices the size of tea plates being carved off for the hungry guests. Again, this was presented very rare – almost raw, to my eyes – but could readily be cooked a bit longer upon request. These nourishing roast meats were offered together with the all-too-rare (here in Asia, that is) traditional Yorkshire pudding. The garnishes included a choice of three types of mustard (including the strongly-flavoured English mustard), plus five types of gravy. Horseradish sauce was another choice, to accompany the beef.

Since the hotel had made such great efforts to provide all the usual trimmings to go along with their good-quality roast meats, it was unfortunate that they hadn’t thought to also provide roast potato, which is traditional - instead, potato wedges were provided.

Those still able to eat, after all this, could partake of fruit salads, nice macaroons, a range of cakes both large and small, chocolate ice cream and a popular tower of melted chocolate, in which dried fruits on sticks could be dipped. The meal ends with a dish of lovely chocolate-covered ice cream balls, which arrives with the bill.

All in all, and especially for the goodly range of delicious items offered here, this must rank as one of Chiang Mai’s best meat-eaters’ buffets.

Gourmet Delights at Dhara Dhevi

The cheese board was extensive, as was every other option at the buffet.

By Paul Surtees; pictures by Sunny Leung

 The unusually-designed and very-stylish Dhara Dhevi Hotel [situated just out-of-town at 51/4 Moo 1, Chiang Mai-Sankampaeng Road] has many catering treats to offer their rather well-heeled resident guests and also their restaurant visitors. By far the best of these are their weekend specials.

The Dhara Dhevi Chiang Mai is a location that cannot be beat and one of the best buffets around.

On Sundays, from 12 noon to 3pm, they have a truly exceptional international buffet brunch. This is at the Akaligo restaurant – actually staged within what is otherwise called their REN Japanese restaurant and, sure enough, they have a wide range of delectable Japanese sushi items available as part of this all-you-can eat buffet. But their range doesn’t stop there.

On a recent visit, the feast started when their French chef cooked up some incomparable French foie gras (goose liver) for us. That was followed by plates of lobster – either (or both) of these gourmet items being excellent ways to begin such a sumptuous banquet. They also have other seafood dishes of so very many varieties that it is difficult to even try all of them. Smoked salmon is of course there, plus three different types of oysters (the Tasmanian ones being the best), giant prawns, squid, smoked fish, scallops, king crab from Alaska and more besides.

They have an extensive and excellent range of French and other cheeses, all at the peak of ripeness, matched by the best Western breads that we’ve ever tasted here in Chiang Mai. Then there are the cold meats, including Iberian and Parma ham. You can have a dish of pasta (numerous varieties are available) prepared to your wishes: the rigatoni with lobster sauce that was selected, complemented by two different types of parmesan cheese, was really delicious.

Chinese duck and other Asian items, including of course many Thai dishes, are available in other corners of their comfortable dining room. Yet another cooking station, out on the terrace, offers high-quality beef steaks, lamb, pork, and more – again, all grilled to your liking, with a huge variety of sauces to choose from. Great though their grilled offerings are in terms of both quality and variety, that’s not to say that they are perfect: even at the second attempt, the squid still came out rubbery. And to accompany the grilled meats, some potatoes would have been welcome – but were not provided.

The range naturally includes soup and dozens of different salad items, including the Middle Eastern dip hummus, plus some less-commonly-found things such as a bean salad.

Once you’ve chomped you way through all these, the desert station tables also groan under the weight of a myriad of choices. They’ll fry up a crepe suzette (Grande Marnier) pancake for you. Wonderful ice cream (mango & vanilla) is there too, together with dozens of types of little cakes – each a masterpiece of cute and imaginative decoration. A lighter option is their fresh fruit display. Even the hungriest customer would be challenged to be able to take so much as a single bite of every dessert item, because there really are so very many of them to choose from.

If you make a fair attempt at sampling the range of this extensive Sunday buffet brunch, then no dinner will needed that night! This feast includes fresh juices, other soft drinks plus tea or coffee. While this Sunday brunch buffet (with VAT and 10% service added, it comes to THB 2,100 each for their buffet / or THB 3,500 per person if including free flow wines) cannot be said to be a cheap option – and yet for the vast range of gourmet delights that it includes, not forgetting the stylish venue and the very-attentive service, it is well worth it.

That same REN venue on a Saturday night, from 6 to 10 pm, offers a delectable and wide-ranging Japanese buffet, incorporating stone grill items, sushi, sashimi and much more - which is also outstanding - at THB 1,470, inclusive, per person. Bookings for both can be made to 53 888 888 ext. 8621.

Readers can debate if these are Chiang Mai’s very best hotel buffets…..certainly, they would be hard to beat.

Khun Ocha's Cookbook

Update April 30, 2016

British Bread and Butter Pudding

One of the staples in the British diet is the dessert known as Bread and Butter Pudding.  Enormously popular in the UK, and if you are cooking for a British expat, they go into raptures over it.

The recipe calls for Demerara sugar which is a large-grained, somewhat crunchy, raw sugar with origins in Guyana (a colony formerly called Demerara).  It is rare to find it in Thailand, so just use brown sugar.

Cooking Method

Preheat oven to 180° C/160° C fan-forced.  Grease a 5 cm-deep, 17 cm x 28 cm (base) baking dish.  Whisk eggs, milk, cream, caster sugar, vanilla and cinnamon in a bowl.

Spread both sides of each bread slice with butter.  Cut each slice in half diagonally. Arrange half the bread in rows in prepared dish.  Sprinkle with half the sultanas.

Pour egg mixture over bread.  Sprinkle with demerara (brown) sugar.  Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until golden and set.  Serve.

Ingredients Serves 6
Eggs 4
Milk 2 cups
Pure cream 300 ml
Caster sugar 1/4cup
Vanilla extract 1 tspn
Ground cinnamon 1/4 tspn
White bread, crusts removed 8 thick slices
Butter, softened 40 gm
Sultanas 1/2 cup
Demerara sugar 2 tbspns
Brown sugar as an alternative

 Update September 24, 2016

Hot Avocado Dogs for Kids

When dealing with any recipes using avocados there is always a problem in deciding if the fruit is ripe under the hard green skin.  Many markets sell avocados that are hard and unripe, because they’re less likely to bruise and spoil.  If the avocado is rock hard, it will need a few days to ripen.  If an avocado yields slightly to gentle pressure, it is ripe enough to slice.  If pressing the fruit leaves a small dent, it is too ripe to slice, but is suitable for guacamole.  If pressing leaves a large dent, the fruit is overripe, and the flesh will have darkened and spoiled.  Hard avocados ripen at room temperature in three to six days.

Cooking Method

Combine bell pepper, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt and ground black pepper; gently stir in chopped avocado to make the avocado relish.

Cook hot dogs over medium heat in a large skillet, turning once.

Spread cut sides of buns with mustard.  Place hot dogs in buns; spoon avocado relish on top and serve.

Ingredients Serves 8
Avocado 1
Red bell pepper chopped 1
Onion chopped 1/2 cup
Cider vinegar 2 tbspns
Sugar 1tbspn
Salt 1/2 tspn
Ground black pepper 1/4 tspn
Hot dog sausages 8
Hot dog buns 8
Yellow mild mustard 1/2 cup

Update September 17, 2016

Golden Fried Prawns

This week’s recipe has its origin in India. Some of the ingredients may be difficult to source, but any Asian market should be able to supply them for you. Indian recipes tend to be very complex, which is why the tastes are quite different from other Asian dishes. The original recipe calls for the Japanese Ajinomoto seasoning, but I have substituted Asian Five Spice because of some reported allergy problems.

Cooking Method

Take the large prawns and remove head and tails and shell. Remove vein from back of prawn. Wash and chop the prawns into pieces.

Mix salt, wine, black pepper and prawns properly and leave this mixture for 20 minutes.

Take a bowl and prepare a mixture of corn flour, white flour, egg whites, Five Spice, baking powder, water and oil.

Stir it until the mixture thickens.

Now dip the prawns in this mixture.

Fry prawns in the wok.

Golden Fried Prawns are best complemented with mint-coriander chutney.

Ingredients Serves 4
Prawns (king size) 8
Asian Five Spice ¼ tspn
Baking powder ½ tspn
Corn flour 100 gm
Black pepper ¼ tspn
Oil 2 tspns
White flour 50 gm
Egg whites 2
Red wine or sherry 2 tspns
Oil for frying
Salt and pepper to taste
Water ½ cup


Update September 10, 2016

Tom Yam Talay

Tom Yam Goong (Hot and Spicy prawn) is one of the best known Thai soups; however, this variant with prawns, mussels, squid and crabmeat has much more to offer, both in the way of substance, nutrition and taste in my opinion. This dish does take a little time in preparation, but it is worth it. The recipe calls for shelled prawns and it is also best to remove the head, though this is not standard Thai practice. The chilli paste is available commercially in all supermarkets.

Cooking Method

In a pot, heat the water, adding the lemongrass and lime leaves. After it boils add the seafood. As soon as it comes to the boil again, remove from the heat and stir in lime juice, fish sauce and chilli paste. Now add the fresh and dried chillies and serve in individual bowls.

Ingredients Serves 4
Prawns, shelled 100 gms
Mussels shelled 100 gms
Squid (cut into pieces and scored) 100 gms
Crabmeat 100 gms
Small Chillies 6
Lemongrass (crushed and chopped) 1 stem
Chilli paste 1 tspn
Lime juice 4 tbspns
Dried Chillies 6
Kaffir Lime leaves (torn into pieces) 3
Fish sauce 2 tbspns
Water 3 cups

Update September 3, 2016

Creamy prawn pasta

Pasta is always a good dish to prepare when entertaining.  A central large bowl with the special pasta spoon can be used as a main course, or as an entree.  You can substitute the crab with prawns or even a white meat fish.  Do not overcook the seafood as it makes it rubbery.

Cooking Method

Wash pasta, drain and then cook to al dente.  Drain again, rinse in hot water and keep warm.  Melt butter in large skillet over medium heat, add onion and garlic; cook until tender.  Add flour, salt and pepper; cook and stir until smooth and bubbly.  Gradually add milk and Worcestershire sauce.  Cook until mixture boils and thickens, stirring constantly.  Add parsley, Swiss cheese and mushrooms; cook and stir until cheese melts.  Stir in crab meat; cook until thoroughly heated.  Spoon over cooked pasta.  Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese.

Ingredients Serves 4
Uncooked pasta 200 gm
Cooked crab meat tinned 100 gm
Onion, chopped 1 small
Flour 1/2 cup
Pepper 1/2 tspn
Worcestershire sauce 1 rspn
Fresh parsley chopped 4 tbspns
Sliced mushrooms 100 gm
Parmesan cheese 4 tbspns
Butter 2 tbspns
Minced garlic 1 clove
Salt 1/2 tspn
Milk 2 cups
Swiss cheese shredded 60 gm

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

A Meat-Lover’s Paradise At Kantary Hills Hotel

Gourmet Delights at Dhara Dhevi

Khun Ocha's Cookbook

British Bread and Butter Pudding

Hot Avocado Dogs for Kids

Golden Fried Prawns

Tom Yam Talay

Creamy prawn pasta