This brand new vegetarian restaurant and health food shop is bright, colourful and cosy, with a sunny second floor terrace, rotating artwork on the walls, live plants on the tables, and free Wifi. Warm and friendly owner and head chef Aye works his magic in an open kitchen, so that he can interact with customers and show off the cleanliness of his workspace. Aye raises his own chickens for eggs and grows much of the produce in his own home garden, including butterfly peas, which he mixes with brown sugar to make the traditional indigo-coloured juice. The menu is simple but delicious, and the food leaves you feeling nourished and healthy. We were particularly delighted by the rich and spicy curries, which come loaded with fresh seasonal vegetables and served with nutty black rice. For dessert, try the rejuvenating raw chocolate balls, made from Balinese cacao. Ancha also offers a full bar, and a variety of natural health and beauty products. Bring a bag of clean used clothing or blankets to donate to ethnic minority groups and receive a free beverage!
Open Tuesdays – Sundays, 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. (Closed Mondays)
Opposite Nimmanhaemin Soi 13 (beside Hillside Condo 2)
2nd floor above Naboon Creation
083 581 1689
Just in time for holiday gift-giving: a brand new English bookshop on Nimmanhaemin! The Booksmith, which has another branch in Bangkok, offers a selection of English and Thai books, as well as an assortment of gifts and stationary. The space is small but airy, with a clean and classic design. And for those who still haven’t jumped on the Kindle train, it has that lovely new book smell that no electronic sense of convenience will ever be able to replace. The Booksmith specialises in oversized art books, the kind that you can craftily arrange on your coffee table to look posh and cultured when guests come. From graphic design to architecture, it’s all here. The fiction section is slim but sharp, with a special shelf for bestsellers, and there is a small used book section as well. The owner, Sirote Jiraprayoon, is the former director of Bangkok’s largest bookstore, Asia Books, so he definitely knows what he’s doing.
Open Mondays – Saturdays, 10 a.m. – 9.30 p.m. (Closed Sundays)
11 Nimmanhaemin Road, Soi 3
080 441 0888
A sophisticated little bar focusing on whisky (a change from the ubiquitous wine bars), The Arch serves up a limited, but slowly expanding selection of single malts as well as blended whiskies: Glenmorangie, Glenfiddich, Johnny Walker of every colour as well as a modest selection of wines, beers and spirits. The Arch is all about slick and soft black leather, gleaming wood, brick walls and shiny mirrors; it’s intimate, cosy and way cool. Somewhere to go for a quiet drink after work, an intimate chat with a hot date or to enjoy premium whiskies with a bunch of good friends. Intriguing little aluminum cubes are used in lieu of ice to cool down the whisky, for those purists who don’t wish to dilute, though ice cubes are also available for the more traditional. Wedged between the popular Why Not? and Hateya restaurants, you can order food from both outlets to go with your water of life. Sláinte!
Open daily 6 p.m. – midnight
Nimmanhaemin Soi 11
081 783 5240
Sushi Bento is a Halal Japanese all-you-can-eat buffet – first time we’ve ever reviewed one of these! What this means to you and me is that alcohol and pork are strictly off the menu. The Bangkok owner started off as a street vendor, but as his business grew he decided to move to Chiang Mai to open this restaurant. Chomp down on cheezy rolls (sushi stuffed with mixed vegetables and cheese), jelly fish spicy salad, sashimi, beef steak with Japanese rice, teriyaki grilled fish and a variety of sushi. Admire the pretty Japanese packaging and sigh with pleasure at the cost.
From Huay Kaew Road you will see a Japanese restaurant with bamboo trees in front of the bar. Bento Sushi also has a second branch on the G Floor of Central Plaza Chiang Mai Airport, at the Food Centre near Tops Supermarket.
Malin Plaza in front of Chiang Mai University
Open daily 3.30 – 11.30 p.m.
Welcome to Kid’s Paradise. Named after the German owners’ 7-year-old son, Nic, this unique restaurant concept offers everything a child – or a parent in need of a break – could ever want (even pint-sized potties for little bottoms)! An all-natural bamboo playground sits on a big green lawn behind the dining area, and features a giant boat-shaped structure hung with wooden swings, hammocks, rope ladders, and slides. There’s a smaller play area and sandpit for the youngest set, and plenty of seating for parents who like to keep a close eye. The restaurant itself features two separate menus, with a variety of tapas, steak, pasta, wraps, pizza, salads and paninis for the adults, and a whimsical array of foods with funny faces for the kids -Monsterburger anyone? Nic’s is the perfect place to spend an afternoon or even host your youngster’s next birthday party, with group packages starting at just 1,800 baht. No kids? No problem. Nic’s is open late and features a full cocktail menu for the grown-ups.
Open Tuesdays – Fridays,
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. and Saturdays – Sundays 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. (closed Mondays)
87 Moo 1 T. Nong Kwai, Hang Dong
087 007 3769
You can’t beat a slice of homemade cake to go with your afternoon cuppa. Charlotte, otherwise known as Rasta Mama, is the other half of the Rasta Couple (Rasta Papa being the owner of Rasta Café on Charoenprathet Road). She is a skilled baker with a top-notch home delivery service. Grab one of her brochures to find all sorts of interesting goodies such as honey and vanilla cookies (a Swedish classic with a twist), three-type chocolate cake with ganache, chocolate meringue pie, orange and whiskey cookies with chocolate chips and apple cinnamon cake. Customer favourites include the gooey passion fruit cake, jam finger print cookies and sticky chocolate cake. Rasta Mama can even tailor-make cakes to individual tastes and diets, including gluten, paleo or wheat-free with low sugar or fat. And it’s not only cakes and cookies for sale; Rasta Mama Bakery produces its own fruit jams from homegrown produce, including passion fruit, strawberry and pineapple. Contact Rasta Mama for birthday and occasion cakes, tea parties and gifts. Minimum order 300 baht.
085 720 9596
At this brand new shop – with its choice location right on the Sunday Walking Street -minimalism is the name of the game. Resident designer and business owner Nuttapong Gulsatit is a man who values quality over quantity, so you can rest assured that each item for sale at this sleek and tiny space has been crafted with great care and attention to detail. After receiving his Masters in Business in Bangkok, Nuttapong decided he was ready to try something new, something he’d always been fascinated by: lighting design. This has become one of the shop’s two specialties, and the beautiful handmade lamps sold here are all artfully designed by Nuttapong himself. The other main offering is bedding, of the extra cosy 100% cotton variety, designed by his business partner in Bangkok. Prices are relatively low in relation to quality, with lamps starting at just 2,500 baht, and sheet sets under 1,000 baht.
Kad Klang Vieng 71 Rachadamnoen Road, T. Phra Singh
089 458 0616
Looking for a peaceful place to rest your head? Look no further than Soulmates Retreat, a brand new hideaway 20 kilometres outside of Chiang Mai, stationed amidst the lush foothills and spectacular views of scenic Doi Saket. Here is where traditional Northern Thai style meets luxurious convenience, where rooms decked out with all the modern amenities are housed inside gorgeous Lanna style teak houses dotted amongst the trees. Owned and operated by Australian Leigh and his partner Ahn, this intimate sanctuary provides an ideal home base for those looking to explore the myriad attractions of Northern Thailand—from elephant camps to zip-lining courses to hill tribe treks. Rent a mountain bike to explore the rolling hills and verdant rice paddies that surround the resort at your own pace, or just kick back, relax and enjoy the resort’s offerings, which include yoga classes, massage treatments, and an enormous infinity pool.
31/1 M.8 Ban Wang Tarn, T. Luang Nua, A. Doi Saket
(Eng) 081 002 0377, (Thai) 087 942 0740
Wine bars are no longer the snobby venues of trendy city streets, as we have shown in the past few months in our City Buzz offerings. Adorable and charming wine bars are opening up in satellite neighbourhoods all around Chiang Mai from Sansai to Hang Dong. If you live in the Wat Jet Yod area you are in luck because Ton Nao, a cute little wine bar and restaurant, offers some excellent wines around the 400-700 baht a bottle mark. Try the Portuguese red which is really rather exceptional for its price. Wine by the glass is served all day at an eminently reasonable 80 baht a glass, as is freshly made Thai food at lunch. This is a no-frills wine bar. You won’t be seeing wall-to-ceiling displays or any walk-in cellars. It is outdoors, it is simple, and it is inexpensive. Feeing daring? Check out their homemade whiskies infused with flavor: rose, cinnamon and clove – sure to warm you up if winter ever arrives.
Lunch 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. Dinner 5 – 11.30 p.m.
105 Moo 2, Potharam 1 Road, Jet Yod
081 733 6648
Ever think you’d find your own quiet little Parisian garden right in the middle of bustling Chiang Mai? Well, here it is. Nakara Jardin, the Ping Nakara Hotel’s long-awaited French patisserie and café, has finally arrived. Located right next to the Ping River – no judgment here if you want to pretend it’s the Seine – this tranquil sanctuary is awash with flowering trees, white cast-iron bistro tables, a charming gazebo, and a fountain that looks like it was plucked straight from one of the King Louis’s gardens. Settle down on the shady terrace for a French feast of lemon crab pasta or foie gras ravioli with truffle cream, or nibble on some lighter fare, including soups, salads, breads, and a mouth-watering selection of homemade cakes and crepes. Nakara Jardin is open for breakfast, brunch, and lunch, and provides the perfect location for hosting a special event or simply enjoying an afternoon tea on the terrace. Bon appétit!
Open Mondays – Sundays, 10 a.m to 5 p.m. (Closed Wednesdays)
135/9 Charoenprathet Road, behind the Ping Nakara Hotel and Spa
Temporarily housed inside the tiny Green Oasis Guesthouse for the past four months, local celebrity, food stylist, and Thai cookbook extraordinaire Chef Duang has now moved on to greener pastures – literally! His new open-air eatery will feature a large organic herb garden in the back, where diners can sit amidst the flora and munch on a variety of delectable meat-and-MSG-free dishes, including the famous herbal Thai salad, drizzled with what may be the most delicious salad dressing in Chiang Mai – a concoction of coconut cream, sesame oil, roasted peanuts, and homemade tamarind sauce. Everything here is made from scratch, including the bread, cakes, muesli, yogurt, and fresh fruit juices. Sip on a rare blend of gac fruit and pineapple or the addictive hangover buster known as G.O.D., made from chlorophyll, coconut water and honey. Want to learn his secrets? Stay tuned. Chef Duang has recently teamed up with a local expat to publish his very first English-language cookbook. P.S. Anyone who arrives at Brown Rice on a bicycle gets 10% off for being green!
Open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. (closed Wednesdays)
85/5 Samlarn Road, T. Phra Singh
086 918 8428
It all started quite modestly many moons ago with a bunch of business owners along Soi 1 Nimmanhaemin getting together for a few days to showcase their latest products. Today, the Nimmanhaemin Arts and Design Promenade is one of Chiang Mai’s biggest annual draws, with hoards of shoppers from Bangkok and beyond coming up annually to see the latest designs available from Chiang Mai’s creative minds. Pop by daily, from late morning to midnight, to see what is on offer in the dozens of stalls featuring a range of businesses and designers from large export companies to clever art students. There is plenty of food, drinks, and entertainment all day long and at night the little stage will be featuring concerts, panel discussions and fashion shows. [If you can find a car park] this is a charming little event, perfect for Christmas shopping and to see some of the city’s most creative products on offer.
5th – 10th December on Nimmanhaemin Soi 1 (though frankly the entire area joins in the festivities so simply wander around Nimmanhaemin to get into the spirit)