Fusion food and future plans

Chang Mai’s latest restaurant is restored in a beautiful old house and the owner of the restaurant is a Dane who is a bit ahead of his time.
     It was originally a pensioner dream. Something he would have loved to do once he was old and rich enough and had the time to make things comfortable around his guests. But then some good friends found an empty and very interesting house along the canal which was close to the Thapae Gate of Chang Mai, and they immediately asked Hans B. Christensen if it wasn’t for him?
     It was and the Danish designer just turned 40 before realizing his dream about becoming a restaurant keeper.
     “The right house on the right spot and so I thought, why not now?” the new restaurant keeper says. So far he has had great success with exporting his ceramics through the company called Rice, and he is also a joint owner of the three Cocoon shops in Bangkok.
     The friends always referred to the house as “The Durian House” while there were always a crowd of salesmen selling durians in front of the gate. Hans B. Christensen decided to keep the name, however he wisely threw away the word in the middle, and in May Chiang Mai’s latest restaurant “The House” opened up to the public.
     “The house is from 1937 and we have preserved the old style in correspondence to all the new trendy restaurants, which all look the same with their old wooden baseboards and sophisticated light. With paintings and lamps from different decades we try to create a house similar to a home, which has a look of many generations having lived here.”
     So far they have been quite successful except for the three antlers that are hanging above the kitchen door. Even though it needs to look like a home, the craniums of dead animals are maybe a bit too much for the guests to take.
     However, “The House” is trendy in other ways: It is the first restaurant in Chang Mai with fusion food and the menu card for example includes lettuce with tangerine sauce and crispy glass noodles, tortilla with chicken, Asian vegetables and Greek yoghurt, crab and lobster cake with miso sauce and a tasty seabass that has been twisted in such a manner that Austin Power would have called it “gene-mutated and good-tempered.”
     “There is nothing wrong with the Thai or the Italian restaurants downtown but why compete with them? I have always liked fusion food and food from the Pacific Rim and then I found a chef that actually loves cooking it,” Hans B. Christensen says.
     Pom, the chef is Thai and has worked in South Africa and at The Peninsula Hotel in Bangkok. He enjoys experimenting and was in his element last week when the Danish restaurant keeper had invited a Danish chef over for a week to introduce some new dishes with local ingredients.
     “The Danish chef has worked at River Café in London, which is my favorite restaurant and he has also worked at Amokka in Copenhagen. It was interesting to see his new ideas,” Hans B. Christensen continues.
     “The House” has already become a success, not at least among the “local foreigners” and the upper Thai middle class. That is people who once in a while would like to eat something else than pad thai and pizza and who do not want to have their dinner destroyed either by a tone deaf Whitney Houston-wanna-be or Ramazotti-songs playing on repeat. People who enjoy sitting in a nice relaxed room and having different food without having to pay unreasonable prices.
     The Danish restaurant keepers plan is to make “The House” a rallying point for regular guests even though tourists of course are also welcome. So far the house also includes a shop and in October he opened a wine and tapas bar for those who do not feel like a big meal. New ideas have been brought to the agenda such as events with visiting chefs, coffee tasting and the menus.
     “I always learn something new and get new ideas from the guests. The other day, for instance, a visiting tea enthusiast introduced us to some of the fantastic types of tea that grows in the area. Earl Grey and Darjeeling have been trashed while we can do it much better on a local basis,” Hans B. Christensen states.
     His restaurant opened 25 years earlier than planned but not a day too early in what is the second largest city of Thailand.

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