Just outside the night market, in the center but not in the main walking area of the city is Chiang Mai’s oldest department store that has now been converted into a restaurant. It is one of the hidden gems of Chiang Mai.
Kiti Panit serves Northern Thai food in a 130-year-old teak building. It seems that the owner saw the then dilapidated building and fell in love and then found out that this building belonged to his ancestors and belonged to the family. He then turned it into a restaurant. Artists have been hired to decorate the building and to bring back the unique old atmosphere. This worked!
The wifi code and the QR code are on the table and this gives you access to the menu card. Don’t expect curries but think more of refined Thai food.
We take a 4 types of mushroom salad with sesame seeds as a starter. The presentation is great. A funnel-shaped banana leaf stands between pieces of ginger, red chillies and sesame seeds. In the banana leaf are mushrooms fried in red pepper oil with sesame seeds on top. A very nice dish, delicate and very tasty.
Thomas takes coriander salad with grilled chicken. A bunch of coriander has been cut into small pieces and sprinkled with red peppers and fried onions. Not too much red pepper so that the coriander has the upper hand. The chicken is cut into strips. A nice dish to start with.
Next we’ll have stir-fried beef with prickly ash. Prickly ash is a plant that has thorns and whose berries can be eaten. These give the beef an unrecognizable bite that makes you feel like you’re eating a piece of stone. A strange sensation, but nice. The beef is provided with a soy sauce and dried peppers from which the seeds have been removed. This makes the dish less spicy than expected in Thailand. It is served with brown rice.
We also take grilled fish with local spices. Although the fish is supposed to be grilled, we have the impression that the fish is steamed. First the fish is rubbed with a kind of red curry and then it is steamed. The fish has a good taste, the herbs could be a little more present.
We drink two different types of ice tea, a passion fruit ice tea and a lime ice tea. These are very tasty.
When we entered we did not know what we saw, you step back in time. Partly you enter an old department store, partly you enter a colonial house and partly you enter a restaurant. The tables are far apart, so you have plenty of privacy.
Various objects hang on the wall: suitcases, bicycles and paintings. In addition, there are several cupboards in the restaurant with old objects. We saw, among other things, an old petrol can. Behind the bar, the liquor bottles are in an old cupboard and there are old carafes. A lot has been thought about.
Outside is a large courtyard. Here one could also serve dishes. If you ask nicely, the owner will also show you the upper floor. This way you get an idea of what it must have been like in the past.
The service is good. Friendly, adequate and relaxed.
We spoke to people who indicated that this restaurant wants to go for a star, they are not there yet, they are recommended in the Michelin guide. Try to leave the night market behind and go eat here. It is more expensive than the night market, but the quality is so much better. Reservations are recommended and actually a must considering how busy it is here.