What’s for Lunch
Tired of noodle soup?
Check out these brand new eateries.
My Secret Cafe
The best things in life are worth waiting for… or spending a little time seeking out… or just calling to ask for directions. This new and cutely-named bakery and cafe is a bit hidden, but totally worth the journey, with many happy returns guaranteed. Tucked into the middle of an orchard oasis off a gravel road just north of the Superhighway, My Secret Cafe is part of the beautiful Ruang Tawan Hideaway, a gorgeously quirky family-owned guesthouse. Surrounded by rows of leafy longan trees, the open-air great room is decorated like a Moroccan parlour, with colourful fabrics blanketing the ceiling and dark teak wood daybeds where you can cosy up with a book, a cup of tea, and a soft puppy (there are about eight of them frolicking around the property). Steps away is the newly opened cafe, where friendly young couple Ja and Paul serve up culinary goodness made with love. Laze on the covered patio with a pot of tea, followed by a light lunch of fresh noodle salad and a slice of Ja’s heavenly homemade Thai tea banana cake, drizzled in Thai tea caramel sauce. Bliss.
Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 10:30 a.m. – 5 p.m. (Closed Mondays)
10/4 Moo 3, San Phi Suea
081 499 9911
Chiang Mai seems to be jumping on the healthy food train lately, and fresh salads are all the rage. U&Me Salad, a brand new pint-sized eatery on Suthep Road (just before the Nimman intersection) takes the winning create-your-own salad formula and adds homey ambiance and several tasty specialty dishes, such as dory fish omelettes and eryngii mushrooms wrapped in bacon. Sit inside the cute and cosy dining room, with its free Wifi, mismatched wooden tables, colourful brick accents and wooden moose heads lining the walls, and enjoy generous portions of fresh and yummy goodness. Veggie salad toppings include everything from azuki beans to Japanese pumpkin to macadamia nuts to boiled truffle, with protein extras ranging from the 25 baht ham to the 95 baht grilled salmon (delicious!). All dressings are homemade _ the creamy wasabi was our favourite _ and all veggies are hydroponic and hyper local. Take out, delivery and catering services are also available, and through April, anyone who spends 250 baht or more gets a free order of Japanese fried chicken.
Open Mondays – Saturdays, 10:30 a.m. – 9 p.m. (Closed Sundays)
257/20 Suthep Road
053 273 595
You don’t go here for the ambiance, though if you manage to close your eyes (and try not to bump into a table of karaoke-singing punters) as you walk through the neon-lit, TV-blaring, air-con-blasting interior, there is actually a nice outdoors area with a pond and some fronds. But the real draw is the food. If you like meats that sizzle, rich punchy flavours and a delightful array of Korean side dishes, then this venue is for you. Upon arrival, a plethora of free side dishes are immediately plonked on the table, ranging from a mind-boggling variety of kimchi and pickled stuff to dried fish, shellfish and other tasty things we couldn’t quite decipher, but polished off with relish nonetheless. The true highlight of the meal is the traditional Korean BBQ which comes with a wide variety of meats and cuts. Pile on the garlic, the chilli, the meat, and down it all with some gentle miso and fluffy rice. Dining at Seoul Garden is a fun experience and really inexpensive – a full meal for three cost us only 1,000 baht.
Open Daily, 11 a.m.- 3 p.m., 5 p.m.-11 p.m.
(Closed 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month)
Fah Thani complex opposite Hillside 4, on the corner of Sirimankalajarn and Huay Kaew Roads
For Your Entertainment
Looking to turn a boring Saturday into a day of fun? We’ve got you covered.
Tiger Muay Thai
Thailand’s number one Muay Thai, Thai Boxing, Fitness and MMA Training Camp is coming to Chiang Mai! The original location in Phuket, which attracts participants from all over the world, has decided to open its first branch in Northern Thailand on seven acres of lush property in Mae Rim. While the full complex, which will feature world class facilities including a weight room, an exercise gym, several specialised training rooms and an Olympic-sized 50 metre pool, is not expected to reach completion until January of next year, daily Muay Thai classes are already in full swing! An all Thai staff of professional Muay Thai trainers, led by a six-time world champion from Bangkok, will train anyone who is interested in learning the highly physical art of Muay Thai, from first-time novices to those looking to train on a professional level. Classes are offered twice a day in morning and evening sessions, from 8 a.m. – 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. respectively. And the more you train, the cheaper the price. One session costs 350 baht, or you can sign up for a full day for 550 baht, or go all in with unlimited full days every day (except Sunday) for 8,000 baht per month.
Open Mondays – Saturdays, 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Closed Sundays)
053 299 651
Chiang Mai’s newest and rather inexplicably-themed outdoor mall is like a miniature cross between a European boardwalk and Disney World, complete with picture-ready statues of everyone from Michelangelo’s David to Marilyn Monroe (vent for billowing skirt effect included). Is that a life-size Spiderman crouching atop Oishi Ramen? Why yes, it is. Pristine walking streets, fountains, bridges and open air patios give that somewhat eerie Stepfordian feeling, but the bright and kitschy charm of the place cannot be denied. At the Harbour, you can have it all, from a haircut to a designer handbag to a bubble tea to a Furby (which have apparently made a recent comeback). Hungry? You’ve got plenty of options, including but not limited to Mashita Grill, Sushi Box, Blue Cup Coffee, Koishi Sukiyaki, Decha Fried Chicken and a plethora of Thai dishes from the Food Harbour, a large air-conditioned food court operating under the ubiquitous coupon method. For dessert there’s gelato from Wedding Cafe or cupcakes from Mont Blanc Bakery, and if it’s inebriation that you seek, you can either get fancy at the Catnip Wine and Cocktail Bar or settle in for a nice tube of Heineken at the outdoor Beer Park, just between the big screen TV and the faux-flamingo-laden fountain. Love it or hate it, mall culture has hit Chiang Mai with a bang, so you might as well embrace, enjoy, and pose in the British phone box with Superman.
Open Daily, 11 a.m. – Midnight
Huay Kaew Road, just before the Phucome Junction
as you head towards the mountain
083 861 8464
Top Gun Simulator
Ever wanted to learn how to shoot a gun without fearing for your life? Check out Top Gun Simulator, Thailand’s most realistic bullet-free shooting simulation. Take your pick from a variety of highly realistic artillery, which are all the exact same shape, size and weight as the real thing, from Standard Class glocks and Berettas to VIP Class AK 47s and PDWs. Enter the James Bond themed simulated shooting range and take your best shot, complete with convincing gun blast sounds and kickback when you shoot at a simulated fixed target. A computerised system shows your shots up on the screen in front of you, and adds up your score for each round so you can print out your best results and show off to your friends. Standard Class packages for one player come with 6 magazines of 15 ‘bullets’ each for 750 baht while VIP Class gives you 7 magazines and allows you to use their private lanes upstairs, where you can avoid the queues and choose from a variety of war rifles for 1,500 baht. Now for a limited time, order any shooting package and get free drinks at the adjoining Sista Café, which offers a variety of tasty coffees, teas, smoothies and beer. Ready, aim, fire!
Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 10 a.m. – 7 p.m. (Closed Mondays and during Songkran)
41 Tha Pae Gate, Moon Muang Road
053 276 007
Chomp & Guzzle
In need of a night on the town? Have your yum and drink it too at these new hotspots.
Kad Cafe Meat Lovers Buffet
April is the month to let your inner caveman feed at Kad Cafe’s limited-time-only Meat Lovers Buffet. Until the end of the month, Shangri-la Hotel’s popular eatery will provide a plethora of premium cuts for carnivores every Wednesday night. For 588 baht per person, you can grab a spot in the spacious dining room or outside on the patio and feast on a wide variety of meats cooked to perfection, from roasted pork to Australian beef to veal cheek. In addition, each week will feature a different exotic meat special, such as roasted pigeon meat with balsamic sauce, which tastes similar to duck (same same but different). While not exactly vegetarian-friendly, the buffet also features a variety of other Thai and international dishes, including sushi, pizza, lasagne, salad, curries, soups and breads. If you have room at the end of your feeding frenzy, there’s a wide selection of dessert options available, including ice cream, cake, Thai sweetmeats and seasonal fruits.
Buffet is available every Wednesday this month, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.
Kad Café at Shangri-la Hotel Chiang Mai, Chang Klan Road
053 253 800
Nimman-side beer deck? Check. Sexy outdoor lounge zone? Check. Cool and intimate dining room? Check. Bar zone? Check. This massively ambitious Korean restaurant and bar goes all out on just about every front. Its open-view kitchen makes its very own tofu and a staggering number of Korean dishes _ bulgogi grilled beef, wine samgyeopsal marinated pork bbq, bibimbap rice, deep fried tofu kangjung, hamul pajun seafood pancake, a mind-boggling array of side dishes and a huge smoothie bar selection, as well as Thai dishes for the less intrepid. If you don’t know Korean food, then this is the place to learn because their menu (more like a booklet) comes with each dish’s recipe so you know exactly what you are getting. And with no copyright restrictions, you can copy a menu or take its picture and even go home and cook it all for yourself. Portions are huge, so don’t let the prices (199-300 baht average) scare you.
The drinks list is comprehensive, ranging from wines (690 baht up) to beers (69 baht up) and spirits, but it is the wonderful selection of soju that is really worth exploring. House sojus are reasonably priced (89 baht a glass), but if you have deeper pockets try the juices of the gods, a.k.a. specialty soju: jook-ryuk-ju bamboo sap or gam-hong-ro honey soju (1,499 baht/300 ml). They may taste like molten honey, but beware, they pack a punch!
Bam7’s lovely Korean owner also has a social conscience; not only does he avoid MSG, he also uses organic rice, makes tofu from organic beans and part of his profits go toward providing clean drinking water to underprivileged children. Awww.
Open Daily, 10 a.m. – 1 a.m.
Nimmanhaemin Soi 5
053 223 047
The TT Kitchen
Tee Tee… watch your mouth! This is an adorably cosy little venue: sewing machines converted into tables, rustic outdoor cushioned benches, intimate stools-a-deux, air-conditioned bliss interior, cheerfully colourful chalkboards with menu highlights and a very pretty owner. But it is the intriguingly creative food that has us drooling. A Moroccan twist on toast where slices of ciabatta bread are laden with Japanese cucumbers, chopped dates and other goodies seasoned with paprika and cumin and drizzled with olive oil; citrus roots and fennel under the sea which adds salmon, baked beetroot, orange, organic mizuna and wild rocket leaves to the mix; Swedish skagen prawn on toast; smoked salmon with liquid gold (oozy egg yolk); and a Turkish chorizo lavash. Prices sit at 150-250 a dish, eminently reasonable, and there is a solid wine list with great by-the-glass offers as well. As they quite rightly say themselves, the TT Kitchen is ‘a cosy spot for good eating, drinking and relaxing’.
Open Mondays – Saturdays, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m. (Closed Sundays)
21 Sirimankalajarn Road, Soi 11
053 222 379