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Dec 14, 2007 09:38 AM

Help me with Bangkok, please!

I have not been to Bangkok in 20 years. Will be spending 5 nights there next month. I am hoping to receive some advice on whether these should make the cut, and suggested dishes, if they do:

Chote Chitr (have the Apple article with some suggestions..)


Somboon Seafood

Ran Jay Fai

Baan Klang Nam

Taling Pling


I will be dining solo; budget is fairly generous. Please feel free to chime in with recommendations other than these if many thanks!!!

Also, read about Anna's on a recent post...opinions??

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    1. Hi Erica,

      i'm a former Manhattan-dweller (Union Sq) and moved to Bangkok a few months ago after having visited several times in the last few years.

      I haven't yet been to some of the favorites on your list (e.g. Chote Chitr), but:

      -- Somboon...went there several times on my first couple visits to Thailand but not since i've moved here...curried crab is yummy...lots of tourists (esp. Japanese and Taiwanese)...bright and crowded...if you cab there though, i'd recommend giving your cabbie an address nearby Somboon but not telling him you are going to Somboon's itself: the reason is that cabbies have been scamming tourists by taking them to counterfeit Somboons...but overall, it has good seafood but not necessarily a must...

      -- i didn't care for Harmonique the one time i went there two years ago...the atmosphere is cute enough, but i found the food so-so and the service rude...

      i'll try to think of some other favorites to add...honestly though, most of my favorite restaurants in BKK are street food stands or small outdoor places that are only open for lunch...

      A decent solo moderately upscale place is called Lemongrass, on the soi just east of the Emporium: nothing earthshattering and a bit farangish, but comfy for a solo diner and good food...

      Solo dining is also not so easy here, as Thais seldom dine solo at anywhere other than street'll be seated and no one will mind and they'll be quite friendly: but it's not like NY or Japan where you can grab a seat at the bar and feel totally comfy...(on the other hand, its nowhere near as bad as Seoul, which i thought was the worst solo dining city i've been to in the world)

      13 Replies
      1. re: Simon

        Simon thank you so much for the info. Your move to Bkk sounds so exciting..I bet you are eating well. is Somboon a sort of Chinese/Thai seafood palace-type place? Maybe I would be better off with the Seafood Market, that is also mentioned on the very long post from last year..I think I was there about 20 years ago and always thought the seafood was spectacular but of course, much has changed since then..

        On that other post, someone wrote about making certain that the Somboon that the driver takes you to has a neon "dee" after the Somboon..does this make sense to you??

        I can imagine that Seoul would be rough on a solo diner. When I visited last spring I dined with a family member living there and without his language skills I would have been totally lost...that is one difficult city to navigate for non-Korean speakers..!!!

        1. re: erica


          i remember that Somboon/driver warning post here, but it's also a common tale of woe of tourists in BKK...not sure about the "dee" (i think maybe you want the one without the "dee" as i don't remember seeing one at Somboons -- but best to search for the post to clarify, or just give the taxi driver an interesection nearby to go to but don't say "Somboons", and if he asks you if you are going to Somboons say "no no, i am meeting friends" ("Mai chai! Pop-gan puan") or better yet say "Mai chai, i don't like seafood!" ("Mai chai! Mai chawp ahaan-talai!")....*smiles*

          My problem dining solo in Seoul wasn't so much the language (i'm happy to point to what other tables are eating or point randomly at an indecipherable menu and take what fate gives me)...the problem was the layout of restaurants (and bars!) with only seating for groups...i had a seafood pancake actually refuse to seat me because they said they only seat parties of two or more (even when i told them that i would definitely order and consume whatever a two-person order would be)...i ended up walking around hungry and angry a lot, although i did love the samgyetang, which is a perfect meal for one, so i ate that several times...

          Back to BKK, there is a morning/breakfast street food soi that i particularly love called Soi Pradit, that runs between Surawong and Silom, about half the distance between the Patpong and the ChaoPraya River (very close to the Surawong branch of Somboon actually)...there are thousands of street food-filled sois in BKK obviously, but i find this one, which i think is hopping between around 8am and 10am, especially good, w/ particularly diverse options (a vegetarian stand because its proximity the Hindu temple, a couple Muslim stands, plus all the stewed pork and curried catfish etc of BKK Thai if you find yourself in that neighborhood in the morning, it's worth checking out...

          Do you know what neighborhood you will be in?...lots of my favorite stands are yummy but might not be worth a trek across town, because there will likely be something comparable that's closer...

          You should also try to eat some authentic Isaan food in a real Isaan-run place.

          1. re: erica

            oh, re: SeafoodMarket vs Somboon...yes, Somboon is Chinese/Thai seafood -- it's pretty casual/plain inside, so i wouldn't call it a palace...Seafood Market is fun and the crab, fish, etc are incredibly fresh, but it's prob pretty daunting for the solo diner.

            Seafood Market is about as big as a football field inside: you buy your fish in one area like at a grocery store, then your beer/wine/whiskey on the other side, and then tell/co-decide w/ the waiters how you want each kind of fish or veggie cooked (stir-fried w/ garlic, steamed w/ lime, deep-fried, w/ curry, etc) and you pay for the food, the alcohol, and the cooking all's fun and tasty and the staff speak decent English since they seat thousands of tourists and expats each week, so its not hard to navigate...but if i was going solo, i'd prob hit Somboon instead.

            1. re: Simon

              Thanks, Simon. Just any locals dine at Seafood Market?

              1. re: erica

                i've only been to Seafood Market once...i went w/ three locals, but it was their first time there too (and they loved the food, even though they considered it kind of expensive)...but despite many tourists, i'd say that some locals prob do go there, as well as some Thai tourists from other parts of the country...

                But from what i've heard, "Lek Seafood" (under the the Chong Nongsi BTS) is much more local than either of the places we've been comparing...i think it's outdoor, cheaper, and 99% Thai...haven't been yet, but will add a review if i make it there soon...

                1. re: Simon

                  Thanks, Simon. Somewhere on one of the long threads here there is info on Lek as well as a photo of the let us know what else you discover. I will be there in early January..

                  1. re: erica

                    there is a great Isaan lunch place (semi-outdoor/awning, metal-picnic tables, under 3 dollars for a *huge* meal for one/two) that's near Soi Langsuan...if you are going to be in the neighborhood during lunch times, i can give you some detailed directions on how to find's a local lunch place that has the best somdam, grilled chicken, and nam tok moo (grilled pork salad) in the neighborhood...i eat there at least 3 times a week and am usually the only farang, although once in a rare while i see some people who look like they wandered over from the nearby US or Dutch embassies...

                    1. re: Simon


                      I think I know the Isarn place. It's just off of a soi and alleyway that connects between the Regent Hotel on Ratchadamri to Lang Suan. I agree that the NE food there is superb, and super cheap. It was always curious to me how few Isarn places there were in Bangkok. Most of the falangs you would see there were American Embassy staff. I was one of them and billeted in a high-rise apartment building on Lang Suan. Others lived in another building on that cross soi/alley running next to the Regent Hotel.

                      Across Lang Suan from where that cross soi/alley comes out was Pan-Pan Restaurant which had excellent Italian food when I was there, and at the Lumpini Park end of Lang Suan on the left was a large and famous Thai/Chinese place. Also at that end of Lang Suan was a very good Vietnamese place.

                      1. re: ThaiNut

                        interesting...i think we are talking about two diff Isaan joints though: the one i go to is on Langsuan Soi 5, between Langsuan and Soi Tonsin, closer to Tonsin...i've never seen the one between Ratchadamri and Langsuan, but i'll use Pan Pan as a landmark and look for it...

                        the other places i go for Isaan are that street stand that's off Soi Convent (maybe Saladaeng Soi 1?) and occassionally the soi 36 places (Vientienne Kitchen, et al) are fun though it's sort of a production to go there...

                        Sidenote: PanPan, Admakers, and one of the Chinese places (maybe the one across the street) will be closing in the near future as they've lost their leases...(maybe to make way for more highrises)...

                        1. re: Simon

                          Your Isarn place on Lang Suan Soi 5 must be somewhat new. I knew those sois well as I used them to go from home to rear gate of the embassy. But then we left there about 5 years ago.

                          To get to the one I mentioned, from Ratchadamri walk down the soi next to the Regent Hotel. There will be high-rise apartments on each side. Where is looks like this soi ends there is one Isarn place on the right and the kai-yang cooking used to occur right outside the door. But if you keep on going another few feet and then duck down an alley on the right in about 30 feet you come into another Isarn place that was even better.

                          At the end of this soi are some pole barriers to keep out cars (but not motorcycles) and this path snakes around to come out on Lang Suan kinda across from Pan-Pan.

                          That's too bad about Pan-Pan and Admakers going down the tubes. They were both good places. Progress!

                          If I were magically transported to Bangkok for one meal there is no doubt I'd jump on the Skytrain and head for Suda's, about 100 feet down Sukhumwit Soi 14. Their curried crabmeat and Tuna in garlic and black pepper is to die for! Incredibly cheap too!

                          1. re: ThaiNut

                            hmmm...i'm peering out my window now and looking for that soi...there are tons of construction projects going on around here, especially between Ratchadamri and Langsuan (at least four high rises in progress)...i wouldn't be shocked if your Isaan place actually moved to Langsuan Soi 5 and maybe we are talking about the same one...except for the big Langsuan/Rathadamri route to the BTS (the one that passes that mini-mart), i've never noticed much foot traffic in the areas you mentioned...but i shall explore: i'm going to Japan tomorrow for ten days, but searching for your Isaan place will be my project when i return...

                            Will check out Suda's too...

                            1. re: Simon

                              Here's another route, as best I can recall. From Lang Suan the
                              soi/alley entrance is sandwiched between a store that sold Chinese ceramic jars and figures and a store that, when we were there, was a fine restaurant that turned into a flower shop that turned into a bakery. Another guide to the soi/alley entrance is that from the Garden View Apartment building on Lang Suan going towards Phloenchit, it is only about a block. But... like you offered, it could be that the whole area has been torn apart.

                              and please let me know what you think of Sudas

          2. See my December 17 post under "Bangkok Eats Questions". Have a great trip!

            3 Replies
            1. re: lgussow

              Thanks again, everyone! I leave this week and am very excited to plunge right in to all the great chow that awaits!

              1. re: erica

                How did your trip end up? I'm headed to BKK in ten days and curious to hear your thoughts.

                1. re: VealParmGuy

                  You absolutely must make a beeline for Chote Chitr. My lunch there was bout the best of a month-long trip to SE Asia. I still lust after their smokey eggplant and their mee grob. Just order lots of is cheap. The owner can be less-than courteous but who cares, right?

                  I looked at Ran Jay Fai but they were not open for serving when I was there. They open at 3pm. My guess is that it is also a must.

                  Unfortunately, the traffic is so horrendous that it is not as easy as one might like to get around in I did not try as many places as I would have liked on this trip.

                  I did have a superb seafood dinner at Pen; I had the grilled prawns and the fried morning glory which was an excellent combination. Very nice poeple; no other westerners when I was there. Again, if it had been easier to move around, I would have gone back.

                  I never did get to Somboon! I have a reason to return..maybe next year!

                  Also looked at Lek Seafood under the Skytrain Chong Nonsi stop. this looked like it had lots of potential, as had been discused here. But I went in the middle of the afternoon and they seemed to be closed for service..very easy to find and easy to reach on the Skytrain.

                  I am happy to answer any other questions....