Fern Restaurant, on the main road of Mae Hong Son near the night market, is a funny place. The main dining area is immense, with a smaller area in the front and a large recessed section in the back that seems targeted to tour groups. However, it’s no longer high season, and we’ve had the restaurant mostly to ourselves on our visits.
The LP describes Fern Restaurant as “Mae Hong Son’s most upscale restaurant, but remember, this is Mae Hong Son.” This doesn’t quite give you the correct impression though. While the prices are higher than most in town, they still average under 150 Baht (<$5), and the setting is much more relaxed and low-key than you might expect. The staff are clearly used to foreigners, speak excellent English, and provide great table service. The tall ceilings, endless pitchers of ice water, and strategically placed fans provide welcome relief from the heat.
The food at the Fern is mixed. Our first meal was a bi-polar experience. We loved the fern salad, a house specialty mix of ferns, carrots, tofu, and peanuts with a chili-lime-coconut dressing. The dressing, reminiscent of that used in the wing bean salad at Bon Kitchen, is so addictive that we used the cabbage garnish and our leftover rice to soak up any remains. On the other extreme, the northern curry was a pungent, sour soup that we couldn’t force ourselves to finish.
Since then, we’ve always included the fern salad in our meal and it’s consistently delicious. Their green curry is also quite tasty, almost at the level of Rom Jinda’s. The red curry was decent but not as good as the green curry. Take a pass on ginger chicken with black mushrooms unless you like very bland dishes.
Overall, Fern Restaurant is worth an occasional visit if you have an extended stay in Mae Hong Son. While Rom Jinda offers a more intimate atmosphere, better food, and generally cheaper prices, the Fern can provide a nice change of scenery along with an enjoyable meal of green curry and fern salad at around 200 Baht.
Two dishes not to order: northern curry and ginger chicken with mushrooms
Khunlum Praphat, across from the library
Mae Hong Son, Thailand
Daily: 10:30AM-midnight (Lunch, Dinner)