Hole-in-the-wall bistro serves up authentic Northern fare
Sandwiched as it is between Sois 3 and 5 on Nang Linchi Road, you have to be careful not to miss Eats Payao restaurant, and boy will you be sorry if you do. From the moment you step into this small sophisticated bistro and bar and receive the warm welcome from hosts Khae and Gavin, you sense that all the five-star reviews you’ve read online, and word-of-mouth recommendations you’ve heard, are about to be confirmed.
Khun Khae’s fashion design roots are immediately evident in the décor as her own art—including a large print showcasing Northern hilltribe fabrics—catches your eye before drawing you on to several more eye-catching paintings, showcasing more locally based talent. The art complements the dark, pastel-pink walls and bright red Bo Sang umbrellas hanging from the ceiling, while the cool music (Django Reinhardt, for instance) playing in the background completes the warm, welcoming mood.
The food that followed was even warmer and more welcome, as we roamed all over the menu and were never disappointed. We began by sampling two of the Khao Soi dishes—including Khae’s own creation, a dry Khao Soi. The delicious Khao Soi Beef (B120) comes with thinly sliced discs of diaphanous meat (a clever presentation), while the succulent Khao Soi Crab Meat (B280) variant was surprisingly delicate. All the meats, in fact, were incredibly tender, especially the Gaeng Hang Lay (B150), a spicy pork belly curry with peanuts which has a superbly tangy barbecue flavour that didn’t overwhelm but did demand you eat more.
The homemade Payao Sausage (B90) are spicier than your average Northern sausage, and like many of the dishes they’re prepared from an old family recipe, in this case using extra herbs and spices and successfully sacrificing sweetness for spiciness. Next up, the Larb Moo Kua (B150) was satisfyingly piquant and was taken to another level of scrumptious by its deep-fried liver. It also comes with fried intestines and pork rinds, as is the traditional style, which is yet another example of the authentic touches that lift the bistro’s offerings above the norm. Meanwhile, their Nam Prik Noom/Ong (B100), flavoured with grilled eggplant, garlic, and onion, had a delightfully creamy taste and texture, providing a perfect accompaniment to the larb.
For beverages the restaurant offers plenty of beer, wine, and other drink options, however a glass of their organic South African Pop Song sparkling wine (B300) makes for a pleasant palate cleanser.
The secrets to Eats Payao’s burgeoning success are many, but mainly hinge on the family recipes Khae inherited from her late grandmother, which are often enhanced by the freshness of the produce used (much of which is sourced from the family farm in Phayao province). When added with the authenticity, personal touches, the simple rustic presentation, and a pair of owner/hosts doing what they love while clearly loving what they do… well, you know the old cliché—it’s a recipe for success.
By Gary Anthony Rutland
95/3 Nang Linchi Rd.
Open: Tue-Sun, 11:30am-11pm
Tel: 094 303 5833