Chiang Mai – which debuted last fall in Webster Groves and which takes its name from the largest city in north Thailand and the capital of Chiang Mai Province – now offers its authentic northern Thai fare for delivery and curbside pickup.
The restaurant comes from chef/owner Su Hill, who bought the space from her sister, restaurateur Ann Bognar of Ballwin’s Nippon Tei. (In that space, Bognar previously operated the Thai/Asian fusion eatery Tei Too; also there, Bognar’s son, James Beard Award-nominated chef Nick Bognar of Indo in St. Louis, began his own hospitality-industry career.)
With Chiang Mai, Hill hopes to bring a taste of her hometown to Webster Groves’ Old Orchard business district, joining such enterprises as Balkan Treat Box, The Frisco Barroom and Guerrilla Street Food.
Coming from a long line of passionate cooks, Hill (who also owns pan-Asian eatery Bistro Saffron in Cape Girardeau) brings family traditions and plenty of industry experience to the table.
“I want to do this because I really miss my mom’s cooking,” Hill says, citing fond memories of learning how to cook from her mother, who used fresh ingredients picked daily from the family garden.
“My whole family is in St. Louis,” she continues. “I thought to myself that it would be great if I could someday move up here and be with the family and do true northern Thai food. I think it will be really awesome if we can just go forward and use real Thai spice and just don’t hold back.”
Highlights from Chiang Mai’s menu include sai oua, a house-made grilled pork sausage with aromatic spices and fresh herbs including makrut lime, coriander, galangal and lemongrass. Another popular small plate ranks as perhaps the restaurant’s signature dish: sakoo sai moo, tapioca dumplings with minced pork, chicken and peanut filling, served with lettuce, cilantro and Thai chile peppers.
Entrée options include gaeng hung lay, braised curry pork with garlic and ginger. Hill also features her mother’s recipe for khao munn gai, a comforting dish made of steamed chicken with rice, chicken broth and sauces. Her larb khua, a sautéed spicy minced pork, features a unique blend of 16 different toasted and ground spices, served with steamed or sticky rice and fresh herbs and vegetables.
“I’m really proud of everything,” Hill says. “This will be great. We can bring something new to the table.”
Chiang Mai, 8158 Big Bend Blvd., Webster Groves, 314-961-8889, chiangmaistl.com