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I've been visiting Chiang Mai for the last four years. The food is consistently delicious albeit slightly pricey. Unfortunately, however, the rice portions are not large enough for one person and are therefore not sufficient to complement the main dish. It is a shame that they are saving on the rice as the rest of the meal is brilliant.
N (Unverified), 30/09/12
Remember that beach in Thailand? Sand under your tanned toes, longtail boats bobbing lackadaisically under a setting sun? Forget it. Have Chiang Mai Kitchen's coconut soup and save yourself the air fare, carbon footprint and ill-advised tattoo.
Simple, fragrant, filling and refreshingly (but not exclusively so) veggie friendly - I had forgotten how startlingly popular Chiang Mai Kitchen is and foolishly, I'd forgotten to add a 'please seat us upstairs' to my booking. An error clearly, with the downstairs tables being a little more cramped and a steady stream of toilet-goers edging politely past our chairs. CMK are forgiven however, with the whole back page of the menu reserved for enough meat-free delights to get even the most carnivorous of our party salivating.
Once we had (finally) decided on our courses, the starters arrived promptly and very prettily on pristine white plates embellished with fresh fuchsia flowers. The king prawns (I'm assured) were perfectly cooked, soft in their shell of crispy batter and there were certainly enough of them, piled high on a liberally garnished platter. I myself had the (aforementioned) coconut and mushroom soup. Next time I will order this again, only twice. Topped with a healthy dose of coriander; chunks of oriental ginger, lemongrass and spring onion were slowly excavated from the bottom of the bowl as everyone at the table couldn't help but taste it.
With no sense of being rushed, our plates were whisked away as soon as the last prawn was gone, to be replaced with Khoa Krati (chicken coconut curry), Ganeng Phet Lychee (red curry) and a raw vegetable salad with a spicy peanut sauce. The curries were, once again, beautifully presented but lacked something of the aromatic simplicity of the starter courses. The lychee curry, ordered for its surprising and surprisingly spice-friendly fruity ingredient, had a 'one chilli' rating with a soft fiery undercurrent that was easily calmed by some coconut rice (£3.50 and more than enough to share). The chicken arrived luke warm but the dish was lauded as flavoursome nonetheless and I once again lost more of my dinner to eager triers of my satisfyingly crunchy peanut dip.
While waiting for our desserts, an ebullient member of staff kept us entertained with tales of his mother's haggling for his shirt (shiny, stripy, very purple). This same smiling waiter was later heard uttering a string of very colourful expletives as he rushed downstairs. 'It's the new coffee machine', a waitress added with a knowing glance at the kitchen door. 'It's got everyone on edge. So many buttons.'
The desserts themselves were presented in glass goblets and the sorbet, served in a large frozen lemon, resembled something of an ice sculpture. And while the non-alcoholic drinks selection is disappointingly a little sparse, the newly printed menus boast Chang beer on every page - do not be fooled, it really isn't that nice. The restaurant could do with sprucing up their floral decorations in a similar fashion - the one underneath the ancient fireplace looked a little tired, all the more so in contrast with the sparkly elephant tapestry that shields the facilities.
Sadly not a coconut shake in sight, but otherwise as authentic and tasty a selection of Thai cuisine as I've had this side of Bangkok - and at only 1000 baht each.
Ash Bond (DI Reviewer), 17/08/12
We go here regularly because it is a perfect little restaurant - the food is excellent, the service is friendly and the prices are very reasonable.
Just a wonderful place to eat amazing Thai food, rivaled only by kitchens in the real Chiang Mai. The building has kept its old world charm, so if you are visiting from elsewhere, it is definitely worth a visit to see the architecture and setup.
You will need to book most night to get in, but the Man and I love it. So much so that Chiang Mai Kitchen catered our wedding cocktail party. Manager Margaret is just a dream. The place runs like clockwork. Go. You won't be disappointed. I promise.
Joroley (Unverified), 02/06/12
Excellent restaurant. My wife and I tend to go at lunch time when they are a little less busy. The food is first class, the service is excellent, it's a delightful place to spend lunch time.
seashell (Unverified), 21/01/11
My boyfriend and I ate here tonight. I had read good reviews, and it certainly had better curb appeal than its neighbours. It started well - satay chicken and beef skewers, good, jasmine tea good. Service fast, though we had been asked if we could eat within 1 hour which we said would be fine. We could smell fresh paint and had an air freshener block next to our table which smelt just as strongly. The tableware (plain white plates, paper tablecloth) was very basic, though the candles were nice.
We orderd pad thai, and chicken green curry with coconut rice. Rice and curry were OK, not amazing. The pad thai was just awful. For £9.00 it had 3 king prawns, and stingey though that was, that was the best thing about it. It was basically thin noodles tossed in sweet and sour sauce, with some egg, chicken bits and beansprouts thrown in. This is not how a pad thai is supposed to look or taste. The problem is that everyone is clearly accepting it so I blame the undiscerning customer as much as I blame Chiang Mai.
I was going to mention that I was unhappy with the pad thai when they took the plates, but was not even asked if everything was ok with the meal, during it, or when they cleared the plates. It was not a pleasant experience, and we shall not be returning!
benrichardson (DI User), 08/04/10
If you want a ‘treat’ and the best Thai then go to Chang Mai - although it’s pricey.
Ben (Unverified), 08/04/10
I've been here with friends several times over the last 5 years, and never had a bad experience. It's my favourite restaurant in Oxford. The service is really good, the food is fantastic and the prices are pretty good too.
JW (DI User), 24/02/10
A group of us went for dinner just after Christmas. Well, what can I say? The service was terrible as was the food, and it took an absolute age to get to us. The waitress was rude as was the actual owner.
lady t (Unverified), 09/01/10
My partner and I have been 3 times now, and we have never been disappointed. The food is the best I have ever had, the staff are friendly and service is just brilliant. I can't say enough good things about this restaurant. We will be going back again and again, we are always looking for different reasons to go ;-)
P.S. The scallops are just sublime.
Archieboy (DI User), 27/09/09
We went to Chiang Mai for the first time last night for our wedding anniversary, having heard some glowing reports of it. Having previously lived in Hackney where one of our local pubs did Thai food way better than any I have tasted before or since (and all for between £5 and £7 for a main course, including rice...!) - except that cooked for us once by a Thai chef girlfriend of one of our friends - our expectations were high.
It was a Tuesday night outside of University term time, but the restaurant was still very full. I had booked some weeks before, so we were shown to a good table in one of the upstairs rooms. I was pleased about this, as the downstairs room seemed drafty and less atmospheric (and the toilets are directly off it).
Ruth (Unverified), 01/10/08
I have visited The Chang Mai Kitchen on several occassions, and have never been disappointed. I would highly recommend the Pad Thai, either the meat or the vegetarian version, which are a true likeness to the wonderful cuisine I became accustomed to when in Thailand itself!
The staff are friendly and attentive, and the atmosphere is always buzzing.
Zena (Unverified), 26/08/08
Went here on friday for the first time, and the food was so good!!! Really great service and the food was fantastic. Had the thai red curry which was just hot enough, and had some nice wine and the rice served in half a pineapple is a must! You get enough rice for three people and it is very yummy. Also had to try the coconut ice cream and was not disappointed! Overall, I would definitely go back. It seemed really popular with students which meant by about 10pm it got really busy with some big groups.
Tess (DI User), 03/12/07
Really enjoyable and delicious everytime! Really friendly staff! The coconut ice cream is a guilty pleasure! This is truly one of the best restaurants in Oxford.
foodie fan (DI User), 07/10/07
Definitely an excellent choice of restaurant. The food is fantastic, highly recommended. The service is friendly and yet professional, they are happy to advise those unfamiliar with Thai food.
tania (Unverified), 29/03/07
You will not get a better meal anywhere! I have been a regular at the Chiang Mai for many years and the food has been brilliant on all occasions.
The restaurant is set away from the High Street down a little alley. The building itself is small, with tables upstairs and down to sit approx 30 or so. I would strongly advise that you book a good few days in advance for an evening sitting. If you are going for lunch then it is not normally needed.
There is a great range of dishes, as well as Thai beer and a variety of wines and soft drinks. During the day there is a lunch menu that runs at a reduced price, or you can choose from the normal menu which is at a standard price. The alcohol does bring the price of the bill up somewhat, but if you are sensible you can have a reasonably priced meal - but even if it was triple the price it would be worth it!
Lolly (Unverified), 12/03/07
Simply the best Thai food outside of Chang Mai itself! Set in a medieval listed building, and offering heavenly cuisine, with ingredients flown in from Bangkok, you would need to travel far to beat this.
Rachel (Unverified), 14/08/06
Chiang Mai is Thailand's second largest city. It is pleasantly located on the banks of the Ping river and set in a green, fertile plain at an elevation of 300 meters above sea level. It is also a restaurant in Oxford, just off the high street. After wandering down the dark alley and opening the large oak door you are welcomed by a scattering of small Thai people. Naturally it would be quite a surprise if they were tall Thai people, so there were no surprises there. We were led up the stairs to a lovely room with a huge fireplace from which I craved fire instead of dried flower arrangement. My (delightful) companion may correct me, but I think it is a Tudor house. Diners are spread around the available rooms within. This makes it quite intimate which is good when fellow diners are nice This evening they were ok and I'm sure they thought that about us too. To start I had scallops in a rich chilli sauce. It was superb. The sauce was so good that I invited my companion to dip her spring rolls in, which she did. For the main I picked out Jungle curry. I enjoyed it, but when first reading the menu I had already planted seeds of thought that led me to believe it would be served in a bowl hewn from the log of a (jungle!) tree, with perhaps a small monkey model and a couple of parrots as decoration. The disappointment felt by my slightly surreal sub-conscience will not affect my overall rating of the restaurant however. My companion enjoyed her "Neua Kra Ta" (steak sizzling hotplate/special sauce) remarking that it was both "favourable and flavourable", "very tasty" and "very sizzly". The "sizzle" factor for this dish was high!
James Blunt (Unverified), 20/12/05
Chiang Mai is not your typical Thai restaurant. No fake elephants for a start. It is set back from the High in an old Tudor style building, white with dark beams and wood floors. I've never been to a Thai place to look at elephants, so I can only see this as a huge bonus; attractive, quiet surroundings and delicious food. I have heard people credit this as the best Thai within 30 miles of Oxford. I haven't been to them all, but it really wouldn't surprise me. The service is friendly, unassuming and relaxed, it's not as expensive as people would have you believe and the food has exotic sounding names (all translated) that emerge, like butterflies, as some of the best restaurant food going.
To start, we opted for the sateh, two chicken, two beef with a rich and spicy peanut sauce (£5.75). It was definitely not a bad choice, although I'm not sure that a bad choice is possible unless you have nut or seafood allergies. I moved on to Gaeng Ped Phed Yang (£8.50). I have no idea how to pronounce it, but I pointed and was presented with a roast duck curry with a spicy tomato sauce with pineapple and lime. I also ordered rice and veg, - a steaming pot of white rice with mange tout, broccoli and carrots mixed into it. My friend, ignoring my warnings about the evils of seafood, tried Tom Yam Poh Tek (£5.95), a hot and sour seafood soup with lemongrass, chilli and lime. Also ignoring my looks of horror as she pulled out things with suckers and tentacles, she gave it a wholehearted thumbs up, and we both shared ice cream as a less spicy but delicately flavoured finale.
The whole meal was washed down with a couple of bottles of the light Thai Singha beer, £2.50 for a large bottle. There is wine available, house wine is £10.50, but nothing seems to work quite as well as the beer for me. There is an entire separate vegetarian menu, with delights such as Pad Pad King (£6.75), stir fried veg, ginger and Fung Gu mushrooms, amongst others. This is the kind of food that you really have to go out to try, and if you can't get to Thailand, Chiang Mai is the closest you'll get. But, be warned, it seems that everyone else knows this too and the place usually packs out every evening by 8.30. Make sure you book in advance, work up an appetite and linger until they shut - they'll let you.
Abby Chicken (Unverified), 01/07/03
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