On my last trip to Chiang Mai, Thailand, a Thai friend and I were looking for somewhere new to eat. While going through the Lonely Planet guidebook, we saw a good review for Ratana’s Kitchen in the Thae Pae Gate area of Chiang Mai. As we were a five minute walk away and it sounded nice, we decided to give it a try.
Let’s say, I’ve had my good experiences and bad from Lonely Planet recommendations, but Ratana’s Kitchen was one of the best restaurants we ate at in Chiang Mai.
Location of Ratana’s Kitchen – Conveniently located on one of Chiang Mai’s busiest main streets, Ratana’s Kitchen is in a small Thai-style building, with a white clapboard front and a couple of small windows. From the outside, it’s difficult to see how interesting Ratana’s Kitchen is, but once you get inside it’s obvious.
Small and cozy, with tiny tables and chairs, bookshelves, the TV playing Thai soap operas and a warm atmosphere, you feel like you’re sitting down in your own kitchen let alone Ratana’s.
There are a few tables outside on a tiny patio next to the main road but, as Chiang Mai is always so hot, I avoid eating outside most of the time during the heat of the day.
The restaurant is at 320-322 Thapae Road in Chiang Mai, just a few blocks from the famous Tha Pae Gate, close to the book and gift shop that’s built around a tree.
Food at Ratana’s Kitchen – Known as being one of the restaurants in Chiang Mai where you can get a good mix of Thai and Western dishes, Ratana’s Kitchen manages to give you lots of choices for both menus and does all of them very well.
Western Food: When my food arrived at Ratana’s Kitchen (I ordered Western), I immediately guessed the restaurant had to be owned by a Westerner. Unlike many Thai restaurants serving ‘Western food’ but just not quite getting it right, Ratana’s Kitchen serves perfect dishes, and few Thais by themselves can achieve that. I discovered later it’s owned by a Western-Thai couple, so my delight was confirmed.
With a large menu of Western dishes (around 50), you get a few American choices such as hamburgers or spaghetti, but the vast majority of Western food at Ratana’s is British – something I couldn’t help but delight in.
Bangers and mash (sausages and mashed potatoes), a full cooked English breakfast, which was a typical ‘fry up’, baked beans on toast, fish and chips, sandwiches, salads, and soups, all of this plus more is on their Western menu. So much in fact, it took me at least ten minutes to choose.
I finally ordered the ‘bangers and mash’ and was delighted to get large portions of both mashed potatoes that were creamy and lump-free, and some of the tastiest sausages I’ve eaten in Thailand. All perfectly cooked, I might add.
Thai Food: The Thai menu is just as large and, my Thai friend declared, just as difficult to choose from. Noodle dishes, rice dishes, pork, chicken, beef, soups, spicy food, some not-so-spicy, and all at prices no more expensive than any other Thai restaurant.
My friend went with an order of seafood tom yam soup and a side order of rice. When it arrived, the portion was large and, for her, delicious. She did however add a lot of chili to it as she said Ratana’s Kitchen is known for its tourist-style food, meaning it’s toned down in spice which the Thais don’t like.
After our main courses, we shared an order of mango and sticky rice, the Thai national dessert, and quite possibly one of the nicest I’ve eaten.
Prices at Ratana’s Kitchen – Of course, Ratana’s Kitchen isn’t a gourmet restaurant. It’s nothing more than simple down home cooking with a great mix of both Western and Thai dishes. That’s why, price-wise, it’s inexpensive particularly for the large portions you get.
For two people with main courses, desserts and a soft drink or iced coffee or tea, expect to walk away from Ratana’s Kitchen having spent no more than 200-250 baht ($6.60-$8.30) – an average of $3 or just a bit more per person, and a very good deal.