A recent hop to Chiang Mai in Northern Thailand reminded why this is one of the Asia’s great food cities. With khao soi seemingly on every street (more to come on that), day and night markets, impromptu food stalls, food trucks and restaurants, you’re never going to go wanting for something great to eat. An evening dinner at the elegant and beautiful 137 Pillars fell squarely in the category of fine dining, in the simply-named Dining Room restaurant.
The look inside is a mix of drapes and dark woods, unsurprisingly as the original house which forms the center of 137 Pillars, dating from 1880, was the original home of the East Borneo Company.
The lighting was particularly fetching, too:
The menu is obviously Thai-based, but also features Asian classics such as udon, Vietnamese spring rolls or Singapore chilli crab. Given the location we went strictly Thai, kicking off with two decent cocktails, a Siam Sunray with vodka, lemongrass, ginger and kaffir lime and another fruity concoction whose name escapes me: (280 baht each)
From the starters, four dinky betel leaves under a mixture of sweet and sticky duck, cucumber, chilli and shallots. Fragrant and delicate, the perfect warm-up before the main event.
Gaeng Hung Lay Gae (590 Baht) was a northern dry curry of slow-cooked lamb shank and edamame beans, the meat fall-apart tender, the spicing just right, the beans an unusual but effective counterpoint. Local nutty brown rice meant none of the excellent sauce was wasted.
Dessert was not especially local but showed a skilled patisserie hand with a dainty trio of sharp lemon curd tartlets (210 Baht)
In a town where you’re spoilt for dining choice, 137 Pillars is an undeniably romantic getaway with warm hospitality. A peek in one of the rooms showed exactly what to expect if you can stretch to staying there: