DINING OUT & Khun Ocha's Cookbook
A taste of Europe in the heart of the Night Bazaar
The first Sunday of the month is the scene of a
magnificent buffet brunch at Le Meridien Chiang Mai’s Favola
restaurant. This amazing buffet features everything from
fresh water lobster to foie gras and more.
By Paul Surtees;
pictures by Albert Cheung
The monthly meetings of
Chiang Mai’s Expatriate association take place these days at
the downtown Le Meridien Chiang Mai Hotel, so many readers
will be familiar at least with the stylish function halls of
that place. It is located at 108 Chang Klan Road, at a busy
corner of the Night Bazaar. Nice breakfast snacks are laid
out on buffet tables for those large-scale Saturday morning
meetings, but this review examines the hotel’s famous Sunday
brunches – which are on quite a different scale!
The selection of seafood at the buffet is fresh and
plentiful, but there are also many other dishes on offer for
those who do not love quality seafood.
Most Sundays, from
11:30 am to 3 pm pm, they offer ‘’The Le Meridien Chiang Mai
Signature Brunch’’ in their lobby-level restaurant. That is
certainly a magnificent family-style feast, and that buffet
with drinks costs THB 1,399 net. per person.
However, on the first
Sunday of each month, an even better – gourmet - brunch is
instead provided at their first floor Favola restaurant
[tel. 053 25 3299], from 11:30 am to 3pm. This is a more
upscale experience, with food and drink offerings to match;
in a setting that adults would appreciate. Valet parking is
provided. The per-person cost of THB 1,999 net. includes a
welcome glass of champagne and selected drinks throughout
the meal. This welcome drink is served together with a
wonderful first plate of half a New Zealand lobster,
garnished with orange and black fish eggs: a great way to
If you are still
thirsty later on, then you can purchase an additional single
glass of champagne for THB 999, or a whole bottle for THB
1,999….. if you do the maths, you’ll likely choose the whole
bottle deal! Within the Favola restaurant is located a
glass-walled walk-in wine cellar, where you can choose from
a vast range of wines. They offer a fair range of different
wines by the glass, as well as by the bottle. They have
vintage champagnes at THB 25,000 a bottle, for example, down
to Prosecco at THB 149 a glass, or 649 a bottle. You could
end your meal with a glass of one of their twenty-two
different types of grappa, ranging from THB 220 right up to
1,100 a glass. However, one of the many delightful aspects
of this special brunch is that the very-attentive staff come
round to the tables from time to time with (included)
different house cocktails for you to enjoy with your meal. A
basil martini; another cocktail consisting of elderflower
and sparkling wine; and at dessert time a tiramisu martini
were all well-mixed.
The soup was pumpkin
soup, with almonds. I had to call for a ladle and proper
soup spoons, because neither had been provided. The
impressive selection of cold cuts included Tuscany ham,
Tyrol ham, wild boar salami, delicious veal loin; and at
other buffet tables nearby you can choose from Mont St.
Michel oysters, salmon, rock lobster, sushi, chicken pate
made by their French chef, Alaskan king crab, squid,
mussels, river prawns, and fresh salad items such as
delectable sun-dried tomato. Much of the food here is
Italian in origin, as are many of the wide selection of
European cheeses. The cheese selection here also includes
items from France, Spain and Switzerland, as well as many
special ones from Italy. These are complimented with a fine
selection of home-baked breads.
At the open kitchen,
their Italian chef will fry up for you a tasty portion of
foie gras. As you might expect, they do gourmet (home-made)
pastas as well, with a variety of special sauces from which
to choose. The range includes a sauce of saffron with Parma
ham; matriciana (chilli and tomato sauce); porcini mushroom
ragout; and a very-rich one which I greatly enjoyed, of
black truffle with cream on my fettuccini.
selection was also impressive, including such items as mixed
vegetables in a tasty sauce of butter and Parmesan cheese.
Although I generally do not like mashed potato, theirs was
skillfully and lavishly laced with truffle and with Parmesan
cheese – and was delicious!
Their roast selections,
all of which can be cooked to your preference, range from
several types of fish, to squid, to chicken, pork, to lamb
to Tuscan prime beef ribs, to succulent roast beef, and rib
eye steaks. If you’ve got any room left, they can also bake
a pizza for you.
pudding was one of the many dessert choices the day we went.
(Their offerings change, with the seasons.) Of course, there
was also fresh fruit, tiramisu, chocolates, and much more
besides to choose from.
All-in-all, this is a
sumptuous feast, with many high-quality (and expensive)
ingredients available, and must count as one of Chiang Mai’s
most superb brunch experiences.
Chicken from Jamaica
This is an easy recipe to produce a very tasty way to
present chicken breast. The herbs and spices are all readily
Pound the chicken breast fillets to around 1 cm
thick. Heat cooking oil in the wok over medium-high heat
until very hot. Quickly cook the chicken, turning once. Do
not overcook. Remove from wok, set aside and keep warm.
Add the orange juice to wok. Quickly bring to a boil,
scraping bottom with a spatula to loosen any browned bits.
Add the onion, green peppers, red peppers. Cook, stirring,
for three minutes, until vegetables are tender.
Place the cornstarch in a cup. Add the apple juice and stir
until smooth. Add the minced garlic, ground cayenne pepper,
cumin, thyme, and salt, and add to the wok. Cook for another
three minutes, or until the sauce thickens. Pour over the
chicken breast and serve immediately.
|Chicken breast fillet
|Green bell pepper, chopped
|Red bell pepper, chopped
|Ground cayenne pepper
|Dried leaf thyme
||1 pinch to season
Cajun Chicken Sandwich
This is certainly not your average sandwich, and one that
does take 25 minutes from idea to plate (10 mins preparation
and 15 mins cooking), so perhaps double the quantities so
you have a second one to enjoy as well.
Chinese Five Spice is more easily obtained than Cajun
Season the chicken with salt, your
choice of spices, and pepper. Cook
chicken in a nonstick frying pan for
five minutes, then turn and cook for
about another four minutes until cooked
through but still moist and juicy. Now
squeeze over a little lemon juice over
While the chicken is cooking blend the
blue cheese and mayonnaise together.
Layer the salad ingredients on top of
the slice of bread and slice the chicken
thinly and place on top, followed by the
blue cheese mayo.
Sandwich together with the remaining
bread and eat warm.
|Skinless, boneless, chicken breast
|or Chinese five-spice powder
|Salt and ground pepper to taste
|Juice of ฝ lemon
|Mild blue cheese
|Cherry tomatoes, halved
|Salad onion, sliced
|Handful of salad greens
Thai Pumpkin Soup
Pumpkin is a very underrated vegetable. Even
international chef Shaun Venter had a pumpkin dish in the
last wine tasting event. It can be used in many ways, and
making soup is just one of them. The pumpkin base is enough
to be able to add many ingredients, such as curry powder, or
as in this case, many items from a Thai kitchen. Pumpkin is
also very inexpensive while we are all watching the cost of
living going up.
In a large pot, heat
oil and gently cook onion with brown sugar and garlic over
low heat until softened (8-10 minutes).
Skin and chop pumpkin
into 2 cm chunks. Add pumpkin, water, coconut cream, chili,
lemongrass and fish sauce. Season with freshly ground
Simmer for about 25
minutes until tender. Remove and puree until smooth.
Just before serving,
adjust seasoning to taste and mix in chopped coriander.
Ladle soup into bowls
and garnish with a fresh coriander leaf.
|Onion, finely chopped
|Canned coconut cream
|Sweet Thai chili sauce
|Lemon grass, finely chopped
|Freshly ground pepper
|Fresh chopped coriander
|Coriander leaves for garnish
This dish is one that you will find in
every restaurant that has any
pretensions to having ‘European’
cuisine. It is a traditional dish from
Vienna (Wien), and although the usual
recipe calls for veal, this can be
substituted for meat more readily
available, such as pork or chicken (or
even turkey). The traditional recipe
also called for the meat to be fried in
lard, but today a polyunsaturated
cooking oil would be better.
Pound the meat thin
and flatten out carefully. Lightly salt.
plates: Put flour on one, whisk the two
eggs and place on the second and cover
the third with the breadcrumbs.
Now dip the meat in
flour first, then into the egg (covering
both sides) and then into the
In a frying pan,
place the oil, with enough to float the
schnitzels. Fry quickly, turning both
sides. Do not overcook or they will
become tough and dry.
Serve with your
choice of potatoes, though a sliced
pan-fried potato with onion and bacon
goes very well with this dish.
||4 x 120 gm sliced thin
|For the breading
|Breadcrumbs (commercially available)
|Salt to taste
|Oil for frying