Framed by low, sprawling branches of an old rain tree, the panoramic view of the Mae Ping river draws your eye through the floor-to-ceiling greenhouse glass panels of Deck 1 as you walk into this sleekly modern restaurant, which is situated across the road from, and is part of, the Rarinjinda Wellness Spa Resort in the historic Wat Ket quarter of Chiang Mai.

This luxury hotel and spa was developed around a 140-year old wooden Lanna home, preserving the original structure and giving it a new purpose as a meeting space within the premises. It is lovely to see how the architects of this venue worked with the natural surroundings of the area to showcase both its natural and historical beauty. This development was also the recipient of an Architectural Conservation Award from the Association of Siamese Architects.

The quiet sophistication of the venue, combined with its superb menu and impeccable service makes Deck 1 one of the favorite watering holes of Chiang Mai society. A nice mix of Thais and expatriates usually gather to enjoy the view of the sun setting over the river and the western mountains in the distance. As evening falls, large traditional lanterns hung on the rain tree are lit. They cast a soft light onto the wooden deck and the riverbank, and are reminiscent of the ephemeral wishing-lanterns that float into the sky at the Yi Peng  festivals.

The impeccably trained service staff make Deck 1 a great venue for a business dinner, a catch-up with friends or a truly romantic evening. Its daily opening hours of 7 a.m. until midnight give an indication that this restaurant caters to the clientele of the spa, and its light, fresh international fusion menu certainly reflects a healthy focus with creative new twists on old favorites.

Appetizers such as the crab salad and fresh rice paper summer rolls feature the bright flavors of crab, shrimp, cucumber, watercress, basil and coriander. The pan-fried salmon is served with a delicious wasabi mashed potato and a wakame seaweed cream sauce.

Traditional favorites such as tomyum goong are also featured on the menu, and the thick yet light coconut broth of the tomyum is wonderfully satisfying, punctuated with the deep orange of succulent prawns and green kaffir lime leaves.

The menu also introduces diners to classic Lanna food with its northern fried rice with sliced Chiang Mai sai ua sausage served with a spicy green phrik noom sauce, bringing humble yet delicious peasant food to a new generation of food lovers.

For dessert, simple fresh panna cotta and tiramisu makes a nice contrast to the complex fusion flavors of the preceding courses.

The drinks menu tempts with refreshing mocktails such as the Lychee Mint Frappe. Creative cocktails such as saucily suggestive Sex on the Deck (vodka, tequila and Cointreau) make the perfect accompaniment to your dinner or just for enjoying the company of a loved one while savoring yet another breathtaking sunset over the ancient Mae Ping.

Written By Sehra, E-Table Chiang Mai