For years the phrase “family restaurant” struck terror in my heart, conjuring images of screaming wild children, soggy fish fingers and harassed shouty parents. It was a phrase that seemed to be a euphemism for “bad food but some broken colouring crayons available”. Back in the UK I have experienced some truly dreadful family restaurants, so I thought it worth while to point out a few places in Chiang Mai that serve good food, don’t have broken crayons or shouty parents but are excellent for children and grown ups alike.
Antique House Restaurant. Charoen Prathet Road
We have been eating at this restaurant for over 6 years which is reassuringly the same every time we go. The staff are friendly, the manager is friendly, there are swings and slides for children, little ornamental ponds full of fish, very good interesting menu with lots of traditional northern Thai food and it’s set in and around a beautiful old teak house. Actually, apart from the food, one of the best things about the restaurant is the live music, it’s just right; not too intrusive but nicely complimentary. There are 3 different musicians every night. The guy that comes on at 8pm (and has been every night for at least 6 years) is our favourite, he sings and plays guitar and parents of a certain age from all over the world will be able to hum along.
It’s one of those places where if you want an easygoing friendly evening out, where children can play on the swings or feed the fish, where you can talk with friends or just listen to the music by yourself and know it won’t cost you a fortune, you won’t go far wrong.
- What I ordered last time: Fish Hor Mok (little steamed parcels of either spiced fish,pork,chicken), Catfish Pad Ped (spicy curry with pea aubergines), shared Tom Kha Gai (spicy coconut soup that I’ve become addicted to) and rice.
- What Teddy (my 10 year old son) ordered last time: Pineapple rice with prawns (comes looking great in a “real” pineapple), French fries (I gave in) and shared Vegetable Tempura, banana split ice cream.
Khaomao Khaofang Restaurant. Ratchapuak Road.
No matter how old you are when you walk into this restaurant for the first time, you’ll say “wow”. It’s a 10 minute taxi ride out of town down the Hang Dong Road but well worth the trip.
The restaurants tag line is “the imaginary jungle” and they’re not joking. There is something rather Disneyworld about it; the manicured flower gardens, little bridges over picturesque streams, huge waterfalls, a gigantic lake and a magnificent carp pond and again it does consistently serve good Thai food. This is our children’s favourite, popular for birthdays, with Thai families, ex pats, everyone really. There’s always a party atmosphere.
On holidays it can get very busy but most of the time it’s relaxed, friendly and easy going, dining either outdoors next to a big lake or under the huge open sided domed roof. First time I came here I thought it would cost a fortune, but it didn’t. In fact after we visited 3 times they gave us a 10% discount card. Make sure you get yours.
I won’t tell you how the water appears in the wash basins in the toilets but our children have been fascinated by it for years. The huge scale of everything and sharp eyed staff seem to absorb even the most excitable of birthday children.
- What I ordered last time: Chicken Panang Curry, Spicy banana flower salad, shared some steamed Tab Tim fish and rice.
- What Teddy ordered: Deep Fried Corn Patties, Shrimp Pad Thai (beautifully presented) and stole some French Fries from his big brother (I gave in again). The Birthday Ice Cream is fantastic for sharing.
The Fish Restaurant. Canal Road opposite Mae Hia market junction.
If you have children between 1 and 10, and you like fish and sea food come here as often as you can. It’s a big popular restaurant especially with Thai families filling up quickly every night of the week from 5pm onwards, there’s an indoor air-conditioned seating area but most people prefer to sit outside around the big lake in the front. As well as very good fish and sea food, and fast efficient service the real attraction for children is a big indoor adventure play area complete with a ball pool.
- What I ordered last time: Stir Fried Black Crab, Steamed Pomfret Fish with ginger (it was excellent), vegetables and rice.
- What Teddy ordered: Crab meat omelette, vegetable fried rice and shared some fried squid.
Hope you enjoy yourself, with or without children.