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Thursday, October 22, 2015

Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant - Chiang Mai, Thailand

For most vegetarians/vegans who are travelling to an unfamiliar place, prior research is usually essential, to ensure we know where to find good (or any) vegetarian food in the area.  If you do your research on Chiang Mai (via Happy Cow, Trip Advisor or whatever site you use) you will find that Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant is among the most highly rated vegetarian eateries in the city.  Due to this fact, I had quite high expectations of this eatery.  The restaurant is located in the swanky Nimman area in Western Chiang Mai.  The area is literally flooded with farangs, with countless high end restaurants and cafes and a multitude of shopping malls.







Anchan Vegetarian Restaurant
Location: Nimmana Haeminda (between lane 6 and lane 10), Suthep Mueang, Chiang Mai, Thailand
Contact: 083-5811689
Opening Hours: Tue-Sat 11.30am-8.30pm.  Closed Sunday & Monday. 


From the day it opened until present, I doubt even one local Thai person has been to this restaurant.  The two times I visited, there was nothing but foreigners inside.  If you want an authentic local experience, Anchan is not somewhere I recommend.  If you want (like almost all tourists do) to be 'overseas' in theory, yet strangely desire to be back in your home country, then I highly recommend Anchan.  The menu here changes on a weekly basis (although the weekly changes are minor).  There is also an extensive drinks menu and a handful of desserts.

 
Customers place their order on a sheet of paper (a method I've always preferred).  I liked how vegan options were clearly marked with an asterix next to them.  The pricing of the dishes is considered very high by Thailand's standard.
We kicked things off with the Crispy Tofu Tamarind Sauce.  As I've mentioned previously, one major advantage Thai cooks have over Singapore (and many other countries) cooks is they have access to fresh good quality locally produced ingredients.  I loved the flavour from the chopped tomatoes in this dish.  The tomatoes were slightly tangy and sweet, not like the half unripe pale red balls of acid that you find in Singapore supermarkets.  The tofu was fried expertly, the outer skin had a delightful chewy texture.  The dish was garnished well, with fried shallots, spring onions and tomatoes really improving the overall flavour.  The only let down was the tamarind sauce, it really lacked depth in my opinion.  It was sweet, and well, that is about it.

Price: 95THB.     7/10


Next dish was the Tempura Mixed Mushrooms. Once again fresh ingredients really do triumph over anything and everything.  The oyster mushrooms were juicy and flavourful, and didn't feel heavy or oily, despite being deep fried.  The mushrooms come accompanied with some slices of fresh tomato (I love the tomatoes in Thailand) and a sweet and sour dipping sauce.  I must say objectively this dish is really over priced.

Price: 140THB.     6/10
I ordered the Massaman Curry purely as a point of comparison with my beloved Pun Pun curry.  This dish is double the price of the massaman at Pun Pun, but to be fair the portion size is much bigger.  The fundamentals of this massaman are very similar - There is very little oil, and a nice creamy nutty flavour.  They differ in a few aspects - Firstly, the Anchan massaman is significantly sweeter, not something I appreciated.  Secondly, the ingredients inside included large pieces of potato, onion, tomatoes and carrots.  The pieces of potato were a particularly welcome addition, especially due to the fact they were cooked to perfection.  Above average without a doubt, but inferior compared with Pun Pun.

Price: 120THB.     7/10




Conclusion - Is the Anchan hype justified? Yes and no.  Most farang's have absolutely no idea about Thai food (or any other cuisine for that matter), so due to the fact that most the positive feedback is from foreigners, it is almost like taking music advice from someone who is deaf.  Having said that, I do believe that the food was definitely above average, and it was clear (after peeking into the kitchen) Chef Aye is a very meticulous and clean chef.  It is farang pricing here, but once you convert baht into your home currency, I am sure you won't care.

Overall Rating
Food - 7/10
Ambiance- 7/10
Service - 7/10
Value - 5/10

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