Chiang Rai city has an affection for things Colonial, and this is the second restaurant that we have been too with similar affluent Colonial styles. Both these restaurants are situated along the same river, the River Kok but Chivit Thamma Da or “The Ordinary Life” in English is quite different in subtle touches and food. It is a family-run restaurant that has a concept of wholesome healthy ingredients used in home-cooked styles with an emphasis on a green environment. An interesting concept, making the best use of the location and style.
Chivit Thamma Da Restaurant has really brought to life the old English heritage concept with little touches of details in the vast garden, seating, and house decor. It does give you the feel of visiting one of those upper-class English homes back in England, especially if you visit Chiang Rai during the cold season or a warm English summer in the warmer seasons.
This is a great place to entertain either in a group, a romantic tête-à-tête for two or a typical English tea for a gathering and chit-chat. Whatever your fancy, Chivit Thamma Da accommodates it all, even the setting for a beautiful wedding lunch or dinner if you want too with the romantic setting all included.
However, if you are new to Chiang Rai, it is quite easy to miss this place as it is set inside a residential street. You cannot really see the restaurant which is quite well hidden among all the greens save for a small little sign in Thai and English just outside the gate. This is one of the top 10 restaurants in Chiang Rai and very popular among locals and tourists alike.
Well, if you have never seen what a jack fruit tree looks like, there is one at the entrance way with fruits almost ripe for the picking. I am not sure if they have jack fruit on the menu when the fruits are ripe but if they do it is probably as a typical Thai sweet dessert. The jack fruit has a rather strong smell, not unpleasant and not as strong an odour as the durian (King of Fruits)
Little attention to details such as a stone-paved patio and white washed furniture adds to the ambiance. Most places would have settled for either brick or wooden paved flooring. The stone paving correlates well with a similar stone fountain and the lush greenery just adds to the outdoors English setting. The owners of Chivit Thamma Da focuses on lots of greenery and fresh air in their environment so you are encouraged to sit and stay as long as you like.
Those who love the outdoor dining styles will not be disappointed at this restaurant. Beautiful bamboo tickets, white flowering lilies, a flowing river and comfortable seating makes it a nice spot for a drink or tea while enjoying Mother Nature at its best. An emphasis on spending time outdoors, but bear in mind that they also have very beautiful seating indoors.
The Chivit Thamma Da Restaurant has made great use of their position by the river to tie the whole concept of the decor into a beautiful presentation of an extraordinary life in the under-estimated name of an Ordinary Life! This restaurant can sometimes be very busy especially during dining hours, so it is advisable that if you are going as a group to make reservations ahead of time.
Hidden beneath the lush creepers is an open balcony dining area with old style wood and marble tables and teak wooden chairs. Whimsical knick-knacks and antiques complete the decor in this area of dining. There are several different dining spots at Chivit Thamma Da Restaurant and depending on your ideal mood setting there is a good choice for you to choose from.
Chivit Thamma Da is not just a restaurant, they also offer health spa services with a full range of spa services for those who want to relax and be rejuvenated in this beautiful setting. If not mistaken, spa services need to be booked in advance and you can get a list of their services when you call for a booking.
Comfortable cushioned seating on rattan chairs outside lets you soak in the warmth and scene of the river view while you enjoy your meal and drinks. They also have a good variety of coffees, teas and other drinks along with snacks. desserts and appetizers if you want something light. During the months of November through to January it can get rather cool or cold as temperature drops in this Northern province of Thailand and that is a good time to sit outdoors and enjoy the cooler climate.
This particular setting and the one below in the drawing room reminded me of those Laura Ashley styled designs. The seating outside afforded a nice shady place under the trees with a nice view of the flowing river. The drawing room inside with bay windows and a white decor on dark cherry wood flooring made the atmosphere more authentically “English country” in the setting. They even had blue and white porcelain and some Wedgewood pieces to complete the look.
Bay window areas are a common feature in most English homes and this was replicated to a fairly close representation of just such a place, giving you an impression that if you were here it is very much like being in England. I am not sure if that was the main idea but having seen many such homes in the past, this could have passed as a trip to England rather than in Thailand! If that was the impression, then I would say that Chivit Thamma Da Restaurant has certainly captivated that English accent very well.
They did have board games and even a game of chess to entertain you if you just wanted a drink or to wait for your table to be available. I am sure there must be a Monopoly or Scrabble game in there somewhere too! The serenity of this whole picture captivated my eyes, with a nice old Banyan tree, a thick carpet of grass strewn with leaves and the river in the background made quite a pretty picture!
The restaurant has a Thai cuisine and intercontinental selection as well as a fusion selection. Presentation-wise, Chivit Thamma Da Restaurant was impressive. What I did like was the health-conscious and emphasis on wholesome home-cooked food as well as a choice of rice for those who liked rice dishes but preferred more than just white rice. Their rice dishes come with brown Jasmine rice which was a healthier choice.
As mentioned, presentation was a top choice here. Their coffee had an interesting twist as it came in the form of ice cubes, this was a good choice which meant that the taste of the coffee is definitely less diluted as you did not need to mix normal ice into a cold coffee! So coffee lovers would find this a boon and of interest to check out this restaurant.
This round of a surprise review, we decided to try the Thai version of their menu. The appetizer was a spicy cashew nut dish that came with small bird eye chillies, spring onions and lime over fried cashew nuts. It is great as a snack or appetizer to accompany drinks. This dish did have a fairly authentic Thai flavour to it, so that got a thumbs up from me.
My Chiang Rai Fried Rice was brown rice fried with shredded pork served with half a hard-boiled egg, salad, deep-fried pork rind, Northern styled chilli paste and shredded onions with dried shrimp, if I am not mistaken. I liked that they served brown Jasmine rice and all the accompanying side dishes was interesting. The fried rice itself lacked flavour so it was best eaten with all the condiments mixed in. Could be that is the way it is supposed to be eaten because when I ate it with little bits of the accompanied side dishes as they were served, the rice seemed less flavourful?!? Maybe there needs to be some comments moderation on this but next time round I would try their Western menu!
The Thai pineapple fried rice was moderate in flavour but not enough of pineapple bits to give it a more deep flavouring of pineapple in the rice. Presentation was great with a side of salad, cashew nuts and fish sauce with some chilli if you wanted your rice spicy. The pricing of the food is absolutely reasonable and portions are just right per person even for a big eater. Listed as one of the must-go-to restaurants in Chiang Rai, Chivit Thamma Da is worthy of a visit when you do visit Chiang Rai in Thailand. I would come back for a second try!