Leave the streets of Chiang Mai for a day. Leave the busy food stalls of the city for one time, and step into the culinary paradise called The River Market Restaurant. Situated in a enviable location, right on the Ping River, the restaurant is not only appearance. The impressive menu, the traditional architecture and a perfect service, make The River Market one of the best restaurants in Chiang Mai.
Do you love Thai cuisine? You’ll love this place! Continue reading to discover what we’ve eaten and what we suggest you to eat!But first, we ask for a second of your time: click here and like our Facebook page! Thank you!
History of the restaurant
The River Market has been open for 5 years. The owner took care personally of its construction, since he followed all the steps by himself. All the wood used to build the place came from Baan Tee, a town east of Chiang Mai that specializes in recycling old buildings and sells used wood. 95% of the wood used in the construction of The River Market was recycled and almost all of the structures were built with hand tools. 35 workers lived on the site and worked on the building and a few still work in the kitchen up till this day!
The original idea was to build a beautiful structure that would capture the image of the old Chiang Mai. The building has been designed with Lanna and Burmese influences: It’s designed to breath, with hot air rising and leaving through the cupola at the top. This keeps the building cool even in the hottest times of the year.
Why the River Market?
You are asking why you should choose this restaurant among the hundreds that you could find in Chiang Mai. Well, here’s why:
– it has the best location in town. The placid river is just in front of the terrace, making the setting quite romantic. There is a nice garden between the terrace and the river, from where you can rest after lunch or dinner, let the kids play or just enjoy the view;
– the menu is extensive, and it combines Thai traditional flavors with innovative elements;
– the dishes are delicious;
– the prices are affordable!
What to eat
The menu of the River Market Restaurant is long enough to keep you looking at its pages for a while. It’s divided into many sections: Starters, salads, from the earth, seafood, inviting the ancestors, and so on. We would suggest you to choose a dish from each section. Beware: You’ll be hungry at the end of the post!
Our starter was these delicious steamed pork dumplings. The minced meat was evenly spiced with black pepper and topped with fried garlic. Take a dumpling, toss it into the soy sauce and let it melt in your mouth.
Tamarind glazed ribs
When the traditional cuisine meets the international ones, often something good comes out of it. This was the case of these great ribs. Soft and full of meat, the sweetness of the marinade was balanced perfectly with a hint of sour (from the tamarind) and salty flavors. The result? A great dish!
Green papaya salad with soft shell crabs
Here is a pillar of Thai food. The traditional papaya was enriched by incredibly fresh crabs. They had been fried, before they topped the salad. Together with small dried shrimps, fish sauce and tomatoes, this is a must try at the River Market Restaurant. All the flavors of South East Asia in one single dish! Not only was it very good, but it also looked beautiful. Look at all these colors!
BBQ prawns with garlic
It’s not easy to choose which was our favorite dish, and these prawns made our decision almost impossible. You know, you don’t really expect such great seafood in Chiang Mai, that’s not exactly close to the sea. And even though, these shrimps were among the best ones we had in Thailand. Big, very well cleaned, cooked perfectly on the charcoal. Topped with garlic, peppers and some fresh mushrooms, they made us crave for more. Another signature dish of the restaurant!
Northern Thai style chicken curry
A traditional dish “from the earth”, it had everything that you’d expect from a good curry. The lemongrass and the basil gave it an intense, fragrant perfume, while tomatoes and chilies completed the deal. Eat it with rice for a complete experience!
If you want to try the international cuisine, the River Market Restaurant is also the right place. The choice of non-Thai dishes is quite big, and we gave a try to the lamb kebab. It was served with grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes and two different dips. One spicy and the other made of yogurt and mint. The lamb was marinated in lime juice, mint leaves and a bit of lemongrass. A touch of Thai in a typical middle Eastern dish. Overall, it was again no mistake. The meat was so tender and well cooked that it was melting in our mouths.
“We wanted to have a Thai restaurant that would serve delicious and quality food at a reasonable price. The River Market isn’t the cheapest restaurant in Chiang Mai but it does offer value. The restaurant serves traditional Thai cuisine using quality ingredients. Old style recipes using new techniques. Many of our staff were taught to cook by their mothers and their grandmothers, and a few by fathers. This is the essential ingredient. Old style done new.” – Said the owner. Well, we must say that they have succeeded.
You can’t find these dishes in the streets of Chiang Mai. We love street food and we eat at the food stalls whenever it’s possible, but sometimes we like comfort. You know, just sit at the table and watch the river flow. So, do yourself a favor and leave the streets of Chiang Mai for a day, or a night. Your belly will thank you!
Have you ever been to The River Market Restaurant in Chiang Mai? What dish would you try among the one we proposed? Let us know in the comments!