Asia

No more noodles: Chiang Mai's best alternatives to Thai cuisine

For almost all visitors to Thailand, the delicious and varied food is one of the highlights of their holiday. For many, however, there comes a time when they simply need a change from Thai food. So, if you’ve eaten enough green curry to float a small ship, and the thought of another noodle makes you want to throw yourself in Chiang Mai’s ancient moat, you’ll be pleased to hear that the city has an excellent selection of wonderful dining alternatives.

Enoteca

With 20 years’ experience as a chef, including tenure as head chef at Favola in Le Meridien Chiang Mai, the passionate and affable Filippo has stuck out and opened his own restaurant which has, in a few short months, established itself as a firm favourite with locals and expats alike.

It has a wonderful, almost rustic, feel as you dine surrounded by the hundreds of bottles of wine that make up what could be Thailand’s finest wine collection.

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Of course the excellent wine collection and ambience would be lost without an equally impressive menu and Enoteca does not disappoint. The array of classic Italian dishes is made from the highest quality ingredients delivered fresh from Italy every few days and matched with hand rolled pasta made onsite. The menu also includes a frequently changing selection of wines by the glass, enabling diners to sample the delights of the some of the bottles which adorn the walls.

Although outside of the centre of town, Enoteca is worth the short journey to see real-life Chiang Mai, away from the tourist trail, and is one of the most highly recommended restaurants in town.

David’s Kitchen at 909

Currently ranked number one on the world’s biggest travel review site, David’s Kitchen has recently moved to new premises closer to the centre of town. The restaurant exudes class and style without being stuffy. Staff address diners by their first names and are charming and enthusiastic.

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The excellent food is French in style and can be selected a al carte or from a reasonably priced set menu.   Amidst the traditional meat dishes with a twist – think roasted rack of lamb with ratatouille jus or pork chop with cherry sauce – you’ll find a good selection of fish dishes and excellent pastas.

Two of the owners, the eponymous David and his wife Pim, mill around the restaurant, talking time to talk to each and every guest in their relaxed and easy style.

Favola, Le Meridien Hotel

The Le Meridien has an enviable location in the heart of Chiang Mai’s night bazaar but offers a cool, classy interior in contrast to the hot and hectic streets which surround it. Favola, the hotel’s flagship Italian restaurant, is a fashionable, contemporary venue which wouldn’t be out of place in Milan or New York.

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With an open kitchen, and friendly staff who are knowledgeable enough to make recommendations according to your taste, Favola serves up dishes quite clearly made with love and passion. Most ingredients are imported from Italy and transformed by Chef Matteo into familiar classics and inventive and mouth-watering original dishes. The restaurant has a particularly enticing repertoire of fine cheeses and cured meats.

Ideal for an intimate dinner with a loved one or with a group of friends exploring the impressive wine collection and sampling the best grappa collection in town.

The Restaurant, Anantara Hotel

Situated by the river, with outdoor deck seating as well as a stylish indoors section, The Restaurant, offers a perhaps unusual combination of Italian, Indian and grill dishes.

Choices like grain-fed Australian steaks, Waygu burgers and New Zealand lamb rack, the excellent quality of the meat and variety of seafood dishes will delight carnivores.  The Restaurants boasts its own tandoor, a traditional Indian clay oven, and chefs from different parts of India prepare regional specialties.

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There is a small vegetarian selection on the menu; the vegetable curry is superb as is the taste sensation that is the black truffle and toasted walnut ravoli .

For something a little different, try the very palatable Thai wine from the hills around the beachside town of Hua Hin.

Italia, Sala Lanna Hotel

A must for romantics!

A walk through this small, boutique hotel takes you through the indoor restaurant, past the open kitchen to the beautifully illuminated riverside dining area.

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Flavourful starters include Norwegian salmon and Greek salad with organic leaves from the hillside fields of King’s Royal Project. Perfectly al dente risottos vie with wafer-thin pizzas to tempt your palate or you can opt for a grill dish, like the beautifully presented New Zealand lamb rack.

If, after a feast, you’re feeling a little guilty, you’ll be reassured to know that you can opt for a dessert of low sugar cheesecake, which is as delicious as any sugar-filled version.

Le Coq d’Or

No round-up of Chiang Mai’s finest restaurants would be complete without the granddaddy of them all, Le Coq d’Or. For 40 years the restaurant has served up French cuisine in an old, colonial-style house built and formerly owned by a retired British consul. The house has been added to over the years, most notably with the addition of a wrought iron and glass extension, the ‘Glass Room’ which provides a lovely dining environment complete with double bass and organ players in the corner.

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The menu includes a large selection of seafood dishes along with a grill selection, escargots and they can even turn their hand to something vegetarian on request. If you still have room, there is a delicious desert menu too.

One very nice and unique touch is that the restaurant will pick you up from your hotel in an old London black cab.

Candice Bain is Founder at Desert to Jungle.

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