A Chiang Mai institution
around 100m from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, next to a 7-Eleven on Boonrueang Rd.
The Roomjai Kai Yang restaurant is a Chiang Mai institution and certainly our favourite Isaan (northeastern Thai/Lao) spot in town. It’s not haute cuisine but rather simple, rustic dishes with plenty of intense flavours from the liberal use of herbs and spices. This is the spot for spicy salads and vegetable dishes of, for example, bamboo shoots, green papaya and green mango, to accompany grilled meats with fiery dipping sauces. This is not the place if you’ve a low tolerance for chillies, and don’t try asking for a glass of wine to go with your meal – Isaan food is made for iced cold beer!
Among the dishes you should sample are laap, a minced meat ( here in pork/chicken/duck variations) mixed with mint, chillies, lime, spring onion, crushed dry-roasted rice and herbs, tom saep, a pork and herb soup, and moo/neua deat deow – sun-dried pork or beef coated with sesame seeds and deep fried. But Roomjai’s signature dish, for which they’re well known by locals, is the grilled chicken (kai yang, from where the establishment takes its name).
Decor is simple but comfortable in keeping with the food and Thai people’s commendable habit of judging restaurants by the cooking rather than the look of the walls and tables. Service is friendly with English menus available. More and more tourists have been finding their way here of late, seduced by the combination of great food and good prices. Most dishes are between 30 and 50 baht and a whole grilled chicken is a snip at 110 baht. Expect to pay 120 to 180 baht per person for a meal, including a couple of beers.
As we said it’s well known in Chiang Mai, so tuk tuk drivers should know how to get to Ruam-Chai-Gai-Yang. Location is around 100m from Chiang Mai Ram Hospital, next to a 7-Eleven on Boonrueang Rd. (See map.)
Open daily, 09:00-22:00, or earlier if the food’s sold out. Closed on the 2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month.
By Mark Ord
Last updated on 20th September, 2013.