Dining at Huen Phen (Chiang Mai, Thailand)

I had no plan coming to this restaurant, I came down from my room of the guesthouse I was staying to check on the food I ordered online. I was told by the receptionist that the service was only in Bangkok. I was hungry already and I don’t plan to dine outside. They told me to walk around 200 meters and I would find a restaurant. And so I went and didn’t bother to go back to the room to take my cell phone and camera. I didn’t know that I will be welcomed by an extraordinary, unique ambiance that made me regret for not taking my gadgets with me.

The restaurant is not prominent and one would hardly find it unless one would look for it on purpose. The front side is like a street side eatery and the signage is not that big to be noticed right away. The entrance is a narrow patio with plants on both sides.

Huen Phen is divided into different dining areas with the antique furniture as dividers. It is decorated by different ancient looking wood sculptures of different animals and figures in Buddhist religion (unfortunately I don’t know them by the name). All decors are not only looking old but the wood itself is already decaying and the dust gets hardened on the surface. I noticed that the chandelier at the center is covered with hardened dust on the trunk and on the frame. The wall fans which are not antique are so dusty and with spider webs. I don’t know if it was neglected or it was left that way on purpose to go along with the ambiance.

Image from http://www.christao408.com

One partition in the dining room are old windows made of wood that looked worn and torn from heavy rains and extreme heat of the sun. Chairs and tables are all antique looking, I remember those chairs in my childhood days, with rounded wooden seat and metal back rest formed into two coils of opposite directions.

Image from sulit.com.ph

And what impressed me was when I discovered that the table where I was seated was originally of a sewing machine, the old manual one with  a pedal and wheel and was converted into a table.

The table cloth was embroidered with hand having elephant design and the table runner was decorated with handmade patchwork with sequence and beads. The colors are combination of navy blue, red, fuschia, yellow and green. The same colors to be seen on the costumes of the tribal people in the mountains.

Contradicting to the ambiance are the wait staff who are young male in early to mid 20’s, wearing dark blue T-shirts, denim jeans and rubber shoes. The hairstyle of the waiter who served was similar to that of Naruto, the Japanese cartoon character. Another thing that amused me was all of them were of similar height, around 5 ft tall except for one which is around 5’7”.

The food I ordered was fried rice with sausage. When it was served, the rice was wrapped in a scrambled egg, like a thick omelette with rice stuffing and light soup with meatballs and tofu.

Image from www.sanjosefoodblog.blogspot.com

The food was not that impressive except for the presentation but I don’t want to make a conclusion as I tried only two items from the menu. If I happen to be in Chiang Mai again, I would still go back and try other food on their menu list.

They don’t accept credit cards, when I showed my credit card the waiter stepped back and gestured his hand saying “NO”, looking scared.

The restaurant is located at Rachamanka road approximately 200 meters from Rachamanka House where I stayed.


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