The Tha Nam (Riverfront) Restaurant and Guest House is aptly named. Located on the banks of the Mae Ping river, and within walking distance of the city centre, Tha Nam provides a romantic setting for al fresco dining by day or by night. The main building is an H-shaped structure of century old teak houses comprising a guest house, gift shop, art gallery and tour counter. Outside, under a canopy of towering ancient trees, tables are placed along the riverside terrace, providing diners with excellent views of the sleepy Mae Ping as it meanders along on its way through the city.
Dotted throughout the garden terrace, and within the main building itself, are numerous wood carvings of fascinating figures and animals from Thai folklore. The amalgam of teak houses and a public school, all of which once stood in Lampang, and were transported to Chiang Mai by the establishment's proprietors, Mr Pichien and Mrs. Napasnun whose hearts were set on bringing a piece of Lanna history to this serene riverbank setting for the benefit of visitors to Chiang Mai. And so Tha Nam Restuarant and Guest House was born. As years passed, this idyllic setting inspired Khun Pichien to follow his dream of becoming a fine artist; most of the paintings on display and for sale in the art gallery are his work.
The guest house has several rooms, the best of which has a private open air terrace on which one can relax with a book, or simply ease back and watch life on the river.
Dining at Tha Nam during the day is a truly refreshing experience. Birds sing among the giant trees that provide cool retreat from the sun, while gentle breezes waft ashore from the river and play among the lush garden plants.
At night, diners are led to their tables by the light of flickering torch flames and candles as moonlight reflects from the nearby Mae Nam Ping. Should you be planning a romantic diner for two, you would do well to make your reservation to coincide with the full moon; Tha Nam has the perfect ambience with its eastward facing garden. Village folk musicians play discreet background music from the second floor terrace as you dine on the delicious fare served up by the restaurant's efficient and pleasant staff.
The Tha Nam Restaurant lies at the southern end of Changklan road, where for the past fifteen years it has built up an enviable reputation among Chiang Mai residents, both local and expatriate, for fine northern and central Thai cuisine. Entire families often dine together, feeling very much at home in these warm and friendly surroundings.
When the Food Editor visited Tha mam Restaurant, Khun Wilairat recommended the following delightful dishes, ending the meal with a dish of fresh tropical fruit.
Among the top recommended dishes welcomed by northerners anytime of year, is a popular appetizer or side dish of Hor D'oervres Muang. (Muang means northern city). The combination plate is arranged with Zai Oua, a roasted northern sausage made with spices: kafir lime, lemon grass, red shallots, parsley root, galangal, tumeric, garlic and others, eaten with spring onion leaves. Another sausage in this dish is Naem , as well as steamed pork sausage or Moo Yaw. Along with the sausages will be boiled vegetables, pork rind and dipping sauce of minced pork with tomatoes and chilli paste known as Naam Prig Ong. Those who prefer more spicy dip can order Naam Prig Noom made of green peppers and spices.
Gai Muang Tord: a healthy golden color of roasted village chicken that is very tasty with sticky rice. Kua Kae Gai is a dish of chicken pieces fried with a variety of green vegetables with a simple northern curry paste that does not call for coconut cream or milk. Three popular central region foods such as Yaam Pla Doog Fu, a Thai style salad of crispy smoked walking catfish with green mango slices topping, Pla Tubtim Neung Zee-Ew steamed ruby fish with Chinese soya sauce and Gaeng Som Pae-Za Pla Chorn , a mild spicy sour soup of tamarind juice, vegetables and the whole serpent head fish.
Lately, Mr. Pichien and Mrs. Wilairat have developed a beautiful guest lodge, the Tharnthong Lodge, located between Baan Huay Kaew and Baan Mae Kampong subdistricts in Mae Orn District, sitting high in the eastern hills of Sankampaeng. The lodge is 1,400 meters above sea level, and therefore cool and pleasant throughout the year. A gentle stream flows through the verdant grounds of the lodge, and many guests enjoy stretching out on lounge chairs while listening to the many nesting birds and music of the gurgling water.
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