When I was invited to visit Hoi An’s Chiang Mai Mountain Restaurant, I jumped at the chance to sample some Thai food. Although Vietnamese cuisine is probably my favourite, I’m a firm believer in variety being the spice of life and it never hurts to break things up a bit. Due to teaching most evenings, I booked a lunchtime slot at the restaurant. Arriving at Chiang Mai Mountain around half past twelve on a sunny Thursday afternoon – with my hungry boyfriend in tow – we were greeted warmly by the Thai chef and her Vietnamese waitress, both of whom spoke excellent English. We were given the choice of sitting inside or outside, so we chose outside. Although many restaurants with outside seating areas in Hoi An are filled with umbrellas, or covered with corrugated iron, Chiang Mai Mountain’s was shaded nicely by the restaurant building itself which made it feel far more open than other spaces.
Once we were settled, we ordered some drinks from the usual suspects of fresh juices/smoothies, soft drinks and cocktails. I chose a coconut and my boyfriend went for a banana shake. Oi, the Thai chef, informed me that she buys each coconut to order from the nearby market so as to ensure freshness. My coconut was definitely fresh and the staff even offered to open it for me after I’d finished the water, so that I could eat the flesh. The banana shake was equally as fresh and was free from added sugar, a rarity in Hoi An.
Although the menu didn’t have a huge selection of items, there were enough dishes to give a choice for perusing without being overbearing. I struggled to choose between the Pad Thai and glass noodle salad with seafood, but in the end the latter won me over, with my boyfriend chose the fried pork with garlic. The dishes took long enough to arrive that we could tell they’d just been cooked, but not so long that our hunger got the better of us. My salad arrived topped with an array of seafood, including squid, prawns and a welcome addition of cashew nuts. Despite being rather salty and full of onion, my dish was definitely satisfying – especially for a salad. The pork with garlic was just that, al beit a little dry, but it tasted good and did the job at filling my dining companion. A surprising highlight of the meal was a side order of rice, which came in the shape of two delightful hearts.
Chiang Mai Mountain Restaurant has a pleasant set-up in terms of layout and décor, which is similar to a number of other restaurants in Hoi An – with subtle nods to Thailand such as bottles of Thai soy sauce on each table – but stands out from the rest due to its location in Cẩm Châu. Although they’ve only been open for about a month, the people behind Chiang Mai Mountain are targeting nearby resorts and expats, which is a smart move on their part due to the current lack of neighbouring competition. The street in which the restaurant is situated also allows for easy parking due to being relatively quiet, a huge plus for those who are as terrible at parking a moped like me!
Chiang Mai Mountain Restaurant has got a lot going for it with nice touches such as complimentary iced water and fruit, as well as decent portion sizes, but the prices were fairly steep compared to restaurants outside of the centre. Either way, I’d return to Chiang Mai Mountain to sample their Pad Thai (and for another delicious coconut).