The Swan Burmese Cuisine Chiang Mai
Before we moved to Northern Thailand, I didn’t realise how different Thai cuisine was across the country. I’d always associated Thai food with seafood and fried tofu, like much of southern Thailand food that makes its way across the ocean to Australia and New Zealand.
Living in Chiang Mai has introduced me to a whole range of food that is closer to Burmese cooking. Given Chiang Mai’s close proximity to Myanmar, it makes sense that Burmese immigrants brought their delicious food with them.
The Swan Burmese Cuisine restaurant is a modern Burmese restaurant, with a Thai flavour. The owners are half Thai, half Burmese, and American. It’s a restaurant suited to any diet types – meat eaters, pescatarians, gluten free diets, vegetarians and vegans.
And unlike most Burmese cuisine, the vegetarian meals aren’t made with fish sauce – nahm bplah, so it’s safe for vegans as well. It’s common in Thailand for many “vegetarian” meals to be made with fish sauce. And at The Swan, almost every dish can be converted into a vegetarian one, so if you’re not a meat-eater, don’t be afraid to ask. J
My friend Lindsey has brought me to The Swan for a veggie meal. Lindsey has severe allergies to gluten and wheat, so the Swan is a good restaurant for her. With its wide range of vegan friendly meals, it suits me, too.
The restaurant is a leafy oasis inside bustling, crowded Old City with its smoky song thaews. The restaurant is basically a shaded courtyard garden, with a bit of sunlight peeking through the plants. It’s serene, cool, and a welcome reprieve from the heat of Old City’s streets.
Lindsey is always a good sport when eating with me and will share my vegan dishes. We order several: Ner lung (veggie tofu meatballs with onions, cilantro, tomatoes, ginger and garlic), Pad pak boong (stir fried morning glory with garlic), and Nga pii chat (chili paste with fresh veggies, tomatoes, garlic and red onions).
The Ner lung arrives first – an array of “meatballs” made from a mixture of tofu, veggies and aromatic herbs and spices. I had explained I was vegan, but I’m a little considered that they taste a bit eggy. I am probably just being paranoid, as the consistency is still soft, and the balls come apart easily, suggesting a lack of egg to bind them together. They are surprisingly mild to taste, which is where the sauce gives a lovely hot kick to them. . The sauce is a satay style sauce, loaded with chilli. It makes my forehead run with sweat, but I pour the hot dipping sauce all over my tofu balls – I love the heat of Thai chilis!
The morning glory stir fry is the surprise star of the meal. I adore morning glory with garlic, and the freshness of this veggie is evident in this dish. The owners get their fresh ingredients from the markets daily, and it really shows in their stir fries. I could devour bowls and bowls of this stuff!
Nga pii chat is a dish we were curious about the look of. When it arrives it looks halfway between a hot salad and a stir fry. This one is a bit tricky for poor Lindsey, she only likes her meals nit noy phet – a little spicy, whereas I like mine phet – spicy! This one is more on the phet side of the heat spectrum. If you love hot Thai dishes, make sure to order this one.
I also noticed an array of Western meals like ham and cheese sandwiches, and burgers on the menu. So if you have friends or family who need a break from South East Asian cuisine, but you still want your Burmese and Thai food, this is a good place to hit up.
Location: 48 Chaiyaphoom Rd, T. Chang Moi, Chiang Mai 50300 — Thapae Gate, on the outside of the moat near the Amora hotel.
Contact: Call: 082 893 6670 (They do reservations and take away) Email: [email protected]
Opening Hours: 11am – 11pm, 7 days a week