Enjoy Khao Yai's serene beauty with great food from some of its newest restaurants.
MOON DANCE BISTRO
Thanarat Road, km 20
Open Wed-Sun, 11am-9pm
Most credit cards accepted
Thanarat Road, km 20
Opened in August 2010, Moon Dance Bistro offers an international selection of gourmet-style comfort food at reasonable prices amid the serene setting of the tropical hills.
In the daytime, the bistro's brightly lit, glass-wrapped dining room is popular among diners who look for frigidity from an air-conditioner. But as soon as the sun sets, the spacious roofless terrace, with the capacity to seat up to 100 diners, becomes a cool spot for a long leisurely dinner.
Culinarily directed by a passionate young Thai chef, educated and trained in Europe, the bistro's cuisine basically blends local home-cooked favourites with Western comfort classics.
My list of recommended dishes, based on my recent visit, starts with the broccoli soup with pan-seared scallop (280 baht). Presented in a modern cappuccino style, the smooth, pastel-green cream soup, in which a supple and naturally sweet imported giant scallop came bathing, offered a subtle taste and was one of the best I've ever had.
The Caesar salad (220 baht) is truly worth ordering here, too. A neat display of romaine lettuce leaves were dredged with rich and creamily salty house-blend dressing that went greatly with a battered and deep-fried chicken fillet, which was brittle on the outside and juicy on the inside.
Another delectable starter was deep-fried egg rolls with phad Thai stuffing (150 baht). The ever-crispy tubes filled with tofu, shrimp and vegetables were accompanied by a bowl of gooey, sweet and sour tamarind-paste dipping sauce. When the sauce and the egg roll intermingled together, they interestingly represented a flavour reminiscent of a phad Thai noodle dish.
Left: Guay tiew khua gai , or traditional Chinese fried flat noodles with chicken.
Right: Smoked barbecue pork ribs.
For main entree, there are two very different options that you should not miss. If you'd like to have it a Thai way, go for guay tiew khua gai, or traditional Chinese fried flat noodles with chicken and egg (150 baht). With a pleasant wok-burn aroma, the dish that we had could easily beat that of the best khua gai specialty shop in Bangkok.
Meanwhile, for those in a Western mood, the barbecue pork ribs (380 baht) are a perfect choice for sharing. The professionally prepared ribs, being braised, smoked and then grilled, yielded a perfectly tender chew, and a pleasantly unique flavour that was not at all overwhelmed by the sweet barbecue sauce.
For dessert, we passed on the likes of the honey toast and went for the crispy crepe with fruit flambe and vanilla ice cream (180 baht). It featured a crumbly crepe (which tasted very similar to almond crisps) that intermingled nicely with a generous portion of house-poached peach and vanilla ice cream.
CAFE DES ARTISTS
The cafe’s dapper design—a mix between a modern bistro and coffee house. Hotel Des Artists
Thanarat Road, km 22
Open Thur-Sun, 7am-9pm
Most credit cards accepted
The cafe’s dapper design—a mix between a modern bistro and coffee house.
Hotel Des Artists
One of the most recent additions to Khao Yai's gastronomic scene, Cafe des Artists takes up the space of the expansive front lawn of a boutique hotel and boasts a culinary character that matches the hotel's personality: homely and visually charming.
The restaurant is under the supervision of a Le Cordon Bleu-educated chef. The impressively sized menu focused mostly on European fare, with a section dedicated to Thai favourites.
For appetisers, you might want to try the grilled, bacon-wrapped prawns on skewer (150 baht), which came dredged with tasty honey mustard dressing.
Meanwhile, another dish which also proved delectable was the extra large New Zealand mussels baked with spicy tomato sauce (150 baht).
Left: Baked New Zealand mussels with spicy tomato sauce.
Right: Sirloin steak with green peppercorn sauce.
For main course, we were fairly satisfied with the sirloin steak with green peppercorn sauce (480 baht). Accompanied by French fries and Mediterranean-style grilled vegetables, the stylishly stacked steak arrived quite rare and topped with caramelised onions. All the side items and condiments were really tasty, but the problem fell on the centrepiece, which needed to be recooked, unfortunately, to medium. The lean steak returned to our table with a perfect look but a rather tough chew.
From the menu of Thai favourites, we chose the best-selling fried rice with crispy sun-dried pork and green chilli paste (110 baht). This rice dish, nicely crowned with a voluptuous boiled egg and escorted by a colourful assortment of fresh and boiled vegetables, was expected to represent the sharp pepperiness of the northern Thai-style green chilli dip, yet it was found somewhat mild and would better suit the palate of farang diners than Thais.
The restaurant's chocolate lava cake (120 baht) wrapped up the meal delightfully.
THE SMOKE HOUSE
Set on the second floor of the Gothic-style castle, the Smoke House’s sophisticatedly-lit dining room reminds of a Medieval dungeon. The House Khao Yai
Thanarat Road, km 6
Open daily 11am-11pm
Most credit cards accepted
Set on the second floor of the Gothic-style castle, the Smoke House’s sophisticatedly-lit dining room reminds of a Medieval dungeon.
The House Khao Yai
When The House complex was launched in the first quarter of last year, it had quite a disorientating effect on visitors to the neighbourhood. Its colossal Medieval castle-like architecture made passers-by wonder if they really were in a tropical country.
One of the vicinity's largest dining establishments, The House comprises of four sections _ The Smoke House restaurant, Wine Connection wine boutique, The Lighthouse bar and The Deli bakery shop _ and has a capacity to seat as many as 650 diners.
The dining zone is divided in to two main parts: the commodious, multi-level outdoor terrace, graced by a breezy air and natural view (also with live music 7-10pm nightly), and the air-conditioned Gothic-style dining room that evokes the sense of a Medieval dungeon, located on the second floor of the main tower.
As its name suggests the restaurant focuses on a variety of smoked barbecued meat.
Left: The best-selling smoked ham ribs.
Right: Pizza with mixed sausages.
Roughly between 2006-2010 my colleagues and I had been regular customers at a ramshackle smoked-meat shop called Ban Rom Khwan, where we favoured its smoked ham and sausages, so we were thrilled to see our once-beloved take-home vendor transformed into this monumental, talk-of-the-town eatery.
Arriving at the restaurant at 5pm on a Saturday, we were able to easily pick a table for our party of five. And our dinner kicked off with a complimentary basket of bread, which consisted of mini baguettes, mini curry puffs and French bread slices.
In terms of food, you'll get the same level of gastronomic satisfaction from here as you'd expect from Disneyland _ agreeable but never excellent.
The first order to hit our table was my all-time favourite, smoked pork neck ham (280 baht). All I can tell you is that my take-home-and-reheat version of the restaurant's best-seller tasted a lot better than what was served in front of us.
The ham looked like it had been deep-fried, not grilled, before being sliced and served. So, even though the flavour was quite the same, the texture, with a crunchy exterior, proved less juicy.
The same goes for the smoked ham ribs (280 baht), which exuded crispiness more than succulence.
We sampled the Smoke House signature pizza with mixed sausage (450 baht) and were fairly satisfied with its hefty toppings. The baked spinach with cheese (150 baht) was also delectable.
The restaurant has quite an impressive selection of bakery items. Made daily on site, approximately 10 choices of cakes and cheesecakes are on offer from a display fridge each day. You'll never regret trying the crepe cake (139 baht).
KHRUA PHAK KLANG
The restaurant’s contemporary modern exterior gives a contrasting sense to its style of cuisine. Phan Suek-Kud Khla Road
Moo 9 Phaya Yen sub-district
Call 086-895-7272 and 036-346-221
Open Thur-Tue, 9am-9pm
Visa and MasterCard accepted
The restaurant’s contemporary modern exterior gives a contrasting sense to its style of cuisine.
Phan Suek-Kud Khla Road
Running through the vicinity's rolling hills, the Phan Suek-Kud Khla Road, a short-cut parallel to the main Thanarat strip, is also home to many notable eateries.
Khrua Phak Klang seems to be one of the newest joints along the route and hasn't yet received much media attention.
The restaurant looked contemporary modern from the outside but once you step inside you'll find it's quite difficult to describe. The sizeable, scarcely decorated dining room looked as if it had a mix of uses between a souvenir shop, a hotel lobby and a restaurant with a large private dining-meeting room.
Food-wise, the restaurant serves up traditional Thai fare, mainly the specialties of the Central region (Phak Klang in Thai language). We tried quite a few dishes from the menu's recommendations, and found several hits and a few misses.
On the hit list was stir-fried vermicelli with acacia and shrimp (180 baht). The clear noodles were well-tossed with white pepper, soy sauce, shrimp, garlic, chillies and tips of the thorny cha-om plant. This backyard vegetable deliciously provided a delicate crunchy texture and pungently strong aroma to the dish to make it truly addictive.
Left: The phrik khing pla duk krob or crunchy cat fish wok-fried with sweet red curry.
Right: Deep-fried fish with nam pla wan .
Another wise choice is khanom jeen nam phrik (60 baht), or Thai-style fermented noodles with sweet peanut curry and assorted vegetables. This delightful dish would receive a perfect 10 only if it had been presented with the right variety of vegetables _ water mimosa, water morning glory, krathin (lead tree leaves), banana blossom and deep-fried bai leb khrut (fernleaf aralia).
Unfortunately, the same assortment of vegetables that was served to us didn't go so perfectly with the tasty sweet curry, which was apparently khanom jeen nam ya (the fermented noodle with pound-fish curry).
The restaurant's phrik khing pla duk krob or crunchy cat fish wok-fried with sweet red curry (150 baht) was scrumptious. Served with properly boiled string beans on the side, this dish was great with rice.
If you come in a group of two or more, I recommend that you order deep-fried fish with nam pla wan (250 baht). The fish was served in crispy golden brown cubes making them easy to eat and accompanied by a bowl of gooey sweet fish sauce dredged with deep-fried thinly sliced garlic.
About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter