City Buzz

 |  December 25, 2012

Formerly owned by the son of Anna from ‘The King and I’, the lush plot of land on which 137 Pillars House stands is rich with culture and history. Today, the resort redefines tasteful luxury, providing all the modern conveniences in a beautiful Lanna-style package. 30 beautiful rooms surround a saltwater pool and the striking ‘green wall’, beset with 14,000 live plants (someone counted!). Inside the beautifully refurbished teak house, which dates back to the late 19th century, you will find the resort’s newest feature, Palette. Decorated with monthly exhibits from up-and-coming Thai artists, the restaurant boasts an inventive menu of small dishes light enough to allow for a full four course meal. Accompanied by a vast array of specially selected wines from the cellar, every course is a delight, from the tangy tuna sashimi with miso lime sauce to the creamy and mellifluous cauliflower mousse to the perfectly grilled beef tenderloin with port wine braised shallot puff pastry and spring vegetables. For dessert don’t miss the heavenly Baked Alaska or the uniquely flavoured twist on the traditional Thai mango sticky rice dish, which comes with homemade black sesame ice cream garnished with edible gold leaf.

Open for dinner every night, 6 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Na Wat Gate Road Soi 1
053 247 788

To nourish your body, your mind and your soul, Free Bird Café is the place to go. First of all, 100% of the proceeds from the café and the accompanying shop go to Thai Freedom House, an inspiring free learning centre for Burmese and indigenous refugees. Secondly, everything on the menu is vegetarian, healthy and delicious -traditional Thai, Shan and international dishes with most of the fat and oil removed, but all the flavours miraculously retained. Prepared by master chefs who also happen to be Shan refugees, the menu features no less than ten different types of salad. Can’t pick just one? The Salad Sampler provides a heaping plate of three for only 100 baht (highly recommended: Burmese Green Tea Leaf). Looking for something a bit heartier? Try the Savoury Pumpkin Ginger Curry or the Trail Mix Pancake. Craving cool and creamy refreshment? Order the Black and White smoothie – a delightful blend of cacao, almond, vanilla and coconut cream. Best of all, after its third move in one year, the café and the centre are now together again in one building, conveniently located just outside Chang Puak Gate.

Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 9 a.m. – 5 p.m.

116 Maneenoparat Road 

081 028 5383

As spectacular as the drive to Pai is, the winding mountain journey could do with a break or two, and 32 Coffee Hill (so named as it sits on kilometre 32 on the road to Pai) is the perfect pit stop. This charming resort, restaurant and coffee shop serves up its own locally grown coffee along with tasty baked goods while offering plenty of photo-ops for the shutter-happy. Vast lush gardens with sweeping views, wending paths serenaded by birdsong, and luxurious individual villas decked out to the nines nestle amongst the hills. Delicious food is served in a restaurant offering a treetop vibe and the coffee shop itself is so popular during the cool season that there are often queues backed up for hundreds of metres along the main road. You don’t stop off at 32 Coffee Hill because you have to; you stop there because you really want to.

195 Moo 4, Papae, Mae Tang

053 047 581

Wow. That’s the first word that comes to mind when we think of Tengoku, the Japanese eatery thrice named one of the Thailand Tatler’s Best Restaurants of Thailand. After a recent expansion, the restaurant’s lovely gated courtyards have been joined by a new dining room, complete with magenta couches and a purple accent wall covered in exotic masks. But let’s talk food. Perhaps the most unexpectedly dazzling dish on the menu is the natsudeng kaku, or eggplant with miso sauce. It may sound demure, but the caramelised richness that explodes in your mouth when you take a bite is the stuff of dreams. Other delights include the beef tataki, a cold dish of raw sliced Australian ribeye on a bed of spring onions with raw garlic and piquant pongsu dipping sauce, the stir-fried mixed mushrooms in butter and the sushi foie gras. Oh my, the sushi foie gras. Round out your meal with the kaiso sarada, a salad of three kinds of fresh seaweed served with a divine ginger dressing, and of course a bottle of saki to wash it all down. Oishii!

Open daily, lunch 11.30 a.m – 2 p.m., dinner 5.30 – 10 p.m.

Sankampaeng Road, across from Mandarin Oriental Hotel entrance

053 851 133

Yes, that is the name. We double checked. Curious branding aside (the owner collects interesting decorative items, including some really lovely arm chairs), this is a beautiful new French restaurant filled with intriguing objects d’art. Expect classic French fare with some innovative dishes thrown in.  The menu is limited, but intriguing. Tender as a baby’s bottom lamb, fairy light cod and more gamey duck dishes are the menu highlights and there are plenty of starters to get the juices flowing. Prices are not cheap, but neither are they bank-breaking, with mains ranging between 350 and 600 baht per dish. A great deal, however, is the cheese platter, exquisitely presented with grapes, figs and dried apricots with a basket of steaming fresh bread for only 180 baht. The perfect accompaniment comes from a fine wine cellar with old and new world wines starting at an eminently reasonable 750 baht per bottle.

Open Tuesdays – Sundays (Closed Mondays)

5.30 pm. – midnight

Nimmanhaemin Soi 7

081 993 1959

At the newly opened Chiang Mai branch of BTC, a travel agency, you can expect a lot more than a hotel or a tour booking. This sunlit locale serves up some of the best Israeli food the city has to offer.  Big, spacious, and filled with white oversized couch-style seating, flat screen televisions and free wifi, BTC is a place you won’t mind spending a few hours. The travel service counter is backed by a large wooden bar serving any kind of cocktail you desire, along with a variety of fruit shakes and coffee drinks. Menu highlights include the rich and creamy hummus, which comes with just the right amount of zest to accompany the fluffy homemade pitas and perfectly cooked falafel (crispy on the outside, moist on the inside – a balance that few restaurants get just right). Every Friday at 9 p.m., tables are pushed aside for Salsa Night, where one hour of instruction is followed by an evening of dancing.

Open daily, 8 a.m. – midnight

86/1 Sridonchai Road, Chang Klan (across from Pantip Plaza)

053 235 6145

This three-in-one venue has it all. Bann Silom is a charming Thai restaurant offering real Thai flavours, including delicious kaeng som, spring rolls and nam prik as well as Thai spaghetti dishes such as nam prik pao and krapao. Poon Coffee serves up aromatic Arabica at seriously reasonable prices _ starting at 30 baht a cup _ as well as yummy drinks such as their green tea latte, creamy iced tea and old fashioned ice creams. This cute  coffee shop is a perfect place to cosy up in the winter season with a good book or use their free wifi, whether indoors or out. SS Guest House is a great value little domicile for visitors to the city, set up to give guests a real homey vibe. With only six rooms, including one dorm for six, prices start at just 200 baht per person per night. There is something for everyone at this lovely little complex.

41 Boonruengrit Road, off Huay Kaew Road 

085 036 3585

If you are looking to rent, buy, or sell property in Chiang Mai – be it condominium, house, land or business that you seek – More Property Agents can help put you in the right direction. Whether you are looking for a place within the city limits or out in the great country beyond, More Property Agents are there to listen and respond to your needs. Call an agent and name your specs or browse at your own leisure with their helpful online search tool, which allows you to specify location, property type and area, and brings up results from their large and ever-changing database of properties. The business is western run and specializes in finding investment properties with good yield returns as well as renovating older buildings into studios and one-bedroom apartments. If you value personal service, these are the agents for you, as they guarantee individual attention for each and every customer via their friendly Thai or British real estate experts.

Suite 3104, 3rd Floor, Pantip Plaza, Changklan Road

081 881 1512

Searching for a tranquil place to live in the heart of Chiang Mai’s vibrant and stylish Nimmanhaemin district? Currently in construction, this brand new condominium will quench your thirst for a convenient and luxurious lifestyle. Designed with modern flair, each of the 70 fully-furnished one bedroom units will feature prime views. Spacious, sunny rooms will include large windows, balconies, wifi, air conditioning, bathtubs and, if you choose to indulge in the electronic package, LED TVs and DVD players can also be added. When a day at work causes too much stress, you’ll have plenty of options to help you unwind. Wash away your anxieties in the infinity pool, take a soothing soak in the Jacuzzi, detoxify in the steam and sauna rooms, read a book in the honeycomb garden, run it out on the private jogging track, or sip some vino at their very own wine bar. Expected time of completion is in 2014, but units are available for purchase now.

Nimmanhaemin Soi 2

053 223 223