Sunday, March 25, 2012

Mae Salong

We had a minor windfall on our joint 4-D bets amongst my in-laws during the CNY festivities in Sungai Petani. The winning was just enough for a dinner for the extended in-law family. And we did just that. When they mentioned this Thai restaurant, my wife and I thought the name was My Sarong. It turned out to be Mae Salong which is a small village in Chiang Rai Province in northern Thailand. 

I will not attempt to provide directions to get there. I was totally lost in the many twists and turns in the outskirts of Sungai Petani. But I can provide the address - 199-F Kampung Bakar Bata, 08000 Sungai Petani. The co-ordinates are N03* 06.887' E101* 34.629'. 

Mae Salong is a mini theme park of sort. It covers a big area and the whole place is beautifully done. It has water as the theme. The whole place is built around a large pond, with fountains, water running down roofs, bridge walkways and even a functional water wheel that channels water from the pond to surrounding areas.

Everything is made of wood, with a lot of plants giving the place a very natural aura. The furnitures are naturally done. The tables are large slates of timber and the seats are benches fabricated from crude wood. They are housed in many attap huts located around the water. Even the wash basins are dug-out timber pieces. I truly admire the handiwork.

They do have an air conditioned dining room in the main building. What struck me was that this air cond room is below the water level. Very well thought of.

I liked the authenticity of the place. And it is apparently very well maintained too. I did not expect such a beautiful place in Sungai Petani. 

The place was fabulous. But the food...

Well, we started the dinner with the usual plates of tit bits that comprised of peanuts and crunchy ikan bilis. It was very tasty. The ikan bilis was very fresh. It was one of those once-started-cannot-stop kind of tit bits.

The fried glass noodle (tong fun 冬粉) was rather soggy and bland. There were prawns, chicken, egg and some veges in it. It looked very good but the did not have the taste to match.

This was a Thai salad. It had strips of mango, cucumber, tomato, peanut, etc, in a sour and spicy sauce. The flavor was a little too sour for my liking.

The other salad was milder. I believe this was the mango salad. It essentially had the same ingredients with some ikan bilis. I thought this salad tasted better the the first.

The otak otak was not bad at all. It was baked in a metal foil. In it was good portions of fish and other seafoods. The flavor was aromatic, seasoned with some basel leaves.

The la la (clams) did not appeal very much to me. It was steamed in a spicy soup which was rather sourish. The flavor was so-so.

The pandan leave chicken was also very average. The flavor was not something I could remember. The portion of meat in the pandan leaves was small.

This was a most ordinary plate of omelet. Nothing worthy to write about.

This vege is the leaves of the sweet potato. It is a popular alternate to kangkong. It was stir fried in sambal balacan. I liked the flavor. It was a little too salty but with rice, it was tolerable.

I had no interest at all in the prawn dish. It did not look good and I thought it was not worth the effort to use my fingers to de-shell them. So I gave it the skip.

The final dish was the fish. Like the la la, it was steamed in a soup. But unlike the la la, it was not sourish. The snapper was quite fresh. But the flavor like most other dishes that evening, was just average.

All in all, I was not impressed with the meal. I thought the quality and flavor of the food did not live up to the aura and splendor of the place. On that night they had an elaborate lion dance to commemorate CNY. I did not have the presence of mind to snap some pictures of the lions. That was probably their first day of business after the festivities. And with a maddening crowd, this could be one reason why the food did not live up to expectations.

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