Fried Noodles in Soy Sauce
with Chicken (front)
Braised Beef Brisket with
Massaman Curry (NT$280)
Doi Tung: Thai curry and other cuisine done right
By Douglas Habecker
Translated by Angel Pu
596, ChongDe Rd, Sec 1, North Dist. (opposite Carrefour)
Hours: 11 am-2 pm, 5-9 pm
14-person private rooms.
Credit cards accepted.
10% service charge.
Two of the first things to make an impression on visitors arriving at Doi Tung Thai Restaurant are an exotic-looking outdoor Thai "sala" rest pavilion and an official Thai Ministry of Commerce "Thai Select Thai Cuisine Seal of Approval" certificate. While Doi Tung is one of a handful of Taiwan eateries to have its cuisine's authenticity thus certified, visitors need no additional convincing once they've enjoyed a meal here.
Open now for two years, this classy-looking, 170-seat restaurant is run by Dr. Raymond Chang, who was born in northern Thailand into an exiled KMT family from Yunnan province, and moved to Taiwan in his high school years. He still regularly returns to Chiang Mai to visit family, buy ingredients and find new culinary inspiration. This has helped ensure his exceptionally-authentic ingredients and flavors.
The long menu is filled with savory selections but Chang takes special pride in being a Thai curry specialist. He explains that these are divided into water-based and milk-based varieties, which both include green, red, yellow and massaman (or black) curries. He also touts Thai curries' cornucopia of natural ingredients: onions, ginger, garlic, peppers, lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, coconut sugar, fish sauce and other items.
An exceptional place to start sampling is the Braised Beef Brisket with Massaman Curry (NT$280), which is stronger-flavored but not overly-spicy. This southern Thai, Malaysian-influenced curry variety, incidentally, was ranked No. 1 among CNNGo's "World's 50 top most delicious foods" last year. More mundane-sounding but no less tasty are the other red, green and yellow curry choices.
Another particular specialty at Doi Tung are the Northern Thai-Yunnanese dishes, a unique cuisine category which Chang says makes up about 20 percent of the menu (the rest divided between food from Thailand's four regions). Among good representative dishes is the Deep Fried Chicken with Chilli Sauce (NT$150 small, NT$280 large).
Of course, all the usual Thai favorites are also available, such as Pad Thai noodles and the thicker, chunkier Fried Noodles in Soy Sauce from northern Thailand. The wide menu diversity includes many vegetarian entrees, stir-fried dishes, some glass-noodle hot pots, and tasty Thai desserts and drinks.
Try any or all of these and you'll probably agree with the Thai government's assessment that Doi Tung and its food are positive promotions for that country and its culture.
Left: Deep Fried Chicken with Chilli Sauce (NT$150/280)
Right: Red Curry Chicken (NT$180)