Julie and I, like so many others, fell for Chiang Mai’s unique markets, amazing coffee shops, laid-back culture and the convenience city necessities in a smaller town than bustling Bangkok. It also appealed to us for its local cultures, history, as well as the local flavors.
Exploring the city by scooter, we rode over to the Wat Gate area of Chiang Mai located along the east side of the Mae Ping River for lunch at 137 Pillars House. Known for its delicate balance of old world elegance of the Orient with that of modern luxury, 137 Pillars House is within walking distance of the unique galleries and shops that line the Mae Ping Riverbank. Most of these shops and galleries are located in old ornate buildings that have been renovated into very chic showrooms.
There are many restaurants, bars and coffee shops located along the riverside, but on this day, we were headed straight for “The Dining Room” at 137 Pillars House for it’s unique historical significance and amazing cuisine. As we arrived on our scooter we were welcomed by their friendly team and escorted through the beautiful property. Impressed with the well manicured gardens, ponds, spectacular swimming pool and stunning banyan trees, we were even more blown away by the beauty of the famous 137 Pillars House. The teak house, built in 1889, has an extensive history, and was once the head quarters for the East Borneo Company. More importantly it was the vision of Panida Wongphanlert and her family that made this property what it is today.
Before our lunch we toured the grounds and got a glimpse of the history in the simple museum under the raised house. It was interesting to see the old photos of the property and how one woman’s vision brought this piece of Thai history back to life again.
Walking into the “The Dinning Room” we were impressed with it’s elegant decor, yet comfortable and cozy atmosphere. We were led to a table large enough for six people, but intimate enough for just the two of us. Julie sat at a fabric draped daybed, that drew your eye upward toward the softly glowing decorative lanterns. Truly a romantic atmosphere during the day and probably even more so by night. The restaurant offers an extensive menu comprised of authentic Thai and seasonally-inspired international dishes. All their dishes are prepared with fresh organic ingredients. Both Julie and I were welcomed by the lunch staff and given recommendations on the chief’s favorites. The menu options were all mouth-watering, but we took our server’s recommendations, which did not disappoint.
Julie enjoyed the Chicken curry, sweet potato served with crispy French Baguette and I devoured the Northern dry curry, slow cooked lamb shank and edamame. Both of our dishes were exceptional, well presented and so tasty. I would add that my lamb shank was the best I have ever experienced. The meat was so tender that it slid off the bone and seemed to melt in my mouth. The unique taste of Thai spice was absolute bliss. After our entrees we shared a deep fried kataifi wrapped banana with black sesame ice cream. This would not have been our first choice to try, but with a resounding recommendation from our waiter we decided to give it a try. The dish was sweet goodness and something we’d definitely choose next time!
Our lunch at the 137 Pillars House was sensational and we would recommend it to any traveler/couple looking for an Orient experience with deep Thai history, culture, exceptional cuisine and romance. It’s easy to see why Owen Wilson chose 137 Pillars House as his home for the nine weeks he was in Chiang Mai filming “The Coup” last fall. 137 Pillars House is open for lunch and dinner to outside guests. Reservations are recommended.
The Honeymoon Couple were invited guests of 137 Pillars House, however the views and opinions expressed are solely our own.