Before I first arrived back in Ubon two months ago I emailed ahead of time to a friend to let him know when I was back so that we could catch up.
He had previously spoken about a restaurant and coffee shop not far from his house and suggested we meet up there for a mid morning cuppa. The place is called Heanmai Steak House and this is my review.
The location is not great if you are just visiting Ubon and staying at any of the popular hotels in the centre of town but for locals with transport it is worth checking out.
From the big intersection near Chayangkun road and Big C, head east on Ubon-Trakan Rd which is also known as the ring road. Drive for two kilometres then turn right (no traffic lights) onto Ratcha Patsadu road. When looking for this turn, immediately on the left hand side there is a three or four story white building with a large AIA sign. Next to that building is a dilapidated, one story building with a sign announcing it as the Playboy Club (the mind boggles!). Many people will remember this road as the one with all the garden centres lined up one after the other. About five hundered metres down Ratcha Patsadu road on the right hand side you will see this sign.
The first thing you notice is the lovely outdoor seating area. There is seating for about 25 people here and being elevated and open it catches the breeze well so even on a hot day it can be quite relaxing.
The place was designed and built by the owner himself and he has spent a lot of time making things just right. There are some beautiful pots with blooming flowers scattered all around the place.
If you prefer your meal without the sounds of passing traffic or perhaps there is a large group of you then there is also a very nice indoor dining area with air conditioning.
We had just enjoyed the buffet breakfast at the Sunee Grand Hotel only an hour before so while not looking for food, a coffee was definitely in order so I ordered a Latte. Now that I no longer have anything to do with Peppers Bakery and Cafe (on a business level) I cannot be accused of being biased when I say that Peppers still has the best coffee in Ubon without a doubt but this place served what was certainly a very acceptable cup of coffee. The price cannot be beaten at just 25 baht (80 cents).
Of course within half an hour Seerung was flicking through the menu with the look of a Thai person who has not eaten for 90 minutes and decided to order the yum taley (spicy glass noodle salad with seafood). By this time I was deep in conversation with the owner so when she placed her order with the waitress, the owner quickly stood up, apologised to me and said he had to go to the kitchen as he was also the cook.
The look of distress on my wife’s face was priceless! You see the owner is an Englishman and as any of my readers who are either Thai or married to a Thai will attest to, Thai people are very intolerant when it comes to any other nationality attempting to cook Thai food. Most believe that if you were not born and bred in Thailand then you can’t possibly master good Thai cuisine.
She stuttered and stammered and almost broke into a sweat as she fought with her innermost demons on whether to cancel the order or not. I for one was happy she didn’t as I would have been embarrassed and as it turns out she was glad also as the food turned out to be quite delicious and a more then generous serving. It was a very reasonable 55 baht ($1.90).
Here are two photos that I took at random of their menu to give you a rough idea of some of the things that are available.
Here is a photo of the owners Eddie and Tookta in their kitchen which is immaculately clean and set up so that you can watch them in action cooking you up a steak, sandwich, hamburger, a western breakfast or some Thai food.
They are a wonderful couple and despite his accent are a pleasure to talk with! Next time you are in the area drop in and see for yourself.
They are open 7 days a week from 9am – 9pm. No website yet but you can find them on facebook or send them an email (heanmaisteak @ hotmail.co.th)