- Özgür Töre
Chiang Mai’s newest five-star hotel has unveiled an intimate fine-dining restaurant serving contemporary Northern Thai dishes with Mediterranean influences accompanied by spectacular vistas and a compelling design that references the city’s rich culture.
Meliá Chiang Mai, on Charoen Prathet Road in the heart of Chiang Mai, has opened its signature restaurant Mai Restaurant & Bar on the hotel’s 21stfloor with panoramic views of the city and famed Doi Suthep Temple on the mountaintop to the west.
Adjacent to the hotel’s executive lounge and tucked under the highest rooftop bar in the city, the 38-seat restaurant is a visual marvel. Diners enter the venue under an arch that pays homage to a nearby temple. In a salute to Chiang Mai's Bo Sang Umbrella Village, large lit installations of umbrella ribs cling to the ceiling. Various artworks of umbrella canopies hang on the walls, such as those made from antique Chiang Mai textiles. The carpet’s concentric patterns, in the likes of gun-metal gray, periwinkle and soft amber hues, reference umbrella tops in a striking yet subdued way.
“Given there are so many local restaurants in our vicinity that offer a great bowl of food, we knew from the outset that Mai Restaurant & Bar needed to be different with not just an aesthetically pleasing environment and a great view but also with one-of-a-kind dishes,” said the hotel’s general manager Edward E. Snoeks.
“The menu celebrates traditional Lanna cuisine in a contemporary fashion with Mediterranean touches, each dish is so distinctive due to profound combinations of ingredients and textures, and the ‘360° Cuisine’ program promotes healthy and sustainable eating based on ‘farm to plate’ and ‘plate to farm’ processes.”
Under the stewardship of award-winning executive chef Suksant Chutinthratip (Billy) and sous chef Karn Phojun, each dish from the restaurant’s seasonal menu is prepared à la minute from an open kitchen.
The recommended ‘Mai’s Samplers’ (THB 390++/USD 10.80++) comprises tasting size portions of five different delicacies:
- Crisp fried fluffy catfish and pomelo salad scented with rice field crab jus
- Vietnamese sausage and edible flowers salad roll with yellow chili puree
- Grilled green chili relish on crispy salmon skin
- Northern Thai-style pork sausage with grilled ginger and pickled cucumber
- Warm spicy tomato relish in golden-fried tortilla
Main dishes ‘Pappardelle Soi Neur’ (THB 350++/USD 9.70++), featuring fresh homemade pappardelle with creamy khao soi curry sauce and slices of seared Australian sirloin, served with homemade pickled vegetables and chili oil, and ‘Pla Salmon Nham Prik Oung’ (THB 550++/USD 15.20++), a baked salmon fillet with northern Thai-style tomato confit, sautéed gurmar leaves and pickled garlic served upon steamed pandan rice, are also recommended dishes.
Of the 28 vegetarian, vegan, meat and seafood menu options, 12 belong to the hotel’s ‘360° Cuisine’ concept, which has been designed to minimise waste and carbon emissions. Under the program, the chefs craft dishes using produce from the hotel’s nearby organic gourmet farm partnership with ORI9IN, and use every part of each ingredient possible before leftovers are returned to the farm as compost.
With 28 years of hospitality experience, Chef Billy was previously the executive chef at some of Bangkok’s top hotels. Chef Billy began his hospitality career in 1994 as a cook helper and climbed the career ladder at various hotels in Thailand as well at Lotus One in Dubai and Raffles Singapore.
After 19 years as a chef, Chef Karn joined Meliá Chiang Mai late last year from work as a sous chef at Bangkok-based Michelin Guide restaurants Baan Suriyasai Royal Thai Restaurant and Saneh Jaan. Starting out in 1993 as chef de partie at Mahanaga Thai Fusion Restaurant, his career has taken him as far as Switzerland where he was the head chef at Michelin Guide restaurant Patara.
Mai Restaurant & Bar is open for dinner from Wednesday to Sunday from 6pm - 10pm. Dishes are priced from 190 – 850 THB++ (USD 5.25++ – 23.50++).