Bangkok Chow Report
I just returned from a quickish trip to Bangkok and thought I would post my thoughts on some of the places where we ate for the benefit of others.
Naj: Our concierge recommended this place when I asked him for a restaurant where he would take his own family. I have serious doubts that he would ever actually do so, since there were very few Thais here (though there seemed to be a lot of expats there) and it was rather pricy, but nevertheless the food was pretty good. The setting is a nice restored old house on Convent Road across from the Bangkok Nursing Home Hospital and the service, though slow (abominably so, in my opinion) was friendly. Laab with duck was very good, as was the chicken with green curry and basil.
Curries & More: A friend who lives in Bangkok took us here one evening and it turned out to be surprisingly good. It's right near the Conrad Hotel off of Wireless Road, and has a remarkably extensive menu. The soft shelled crab curry was excellent, as was the chicken in pandanus leaves. Also a very big wine list, though we did not partake.
Old Siam Food Court: During a walk around Chinatown we got hit by a rainstorm just around lunchtime so we ducked in here. On the 3rd floor was an old-style food court that reminded me of a Singaporean hawker center. No English whatsoever was spoken here, or otherwise in evidence, but the vendors were very friendly and eager to help us out. Through the miracle of pointing and smiling we all managed to get a range of interesting and delicious food for ridiculously low prices. Unfortunately I could not even begin to tell you what these dishes were called!
Wat Phra Kaew Ferry Terminal Market: This is the market just in front of the closest ferry terminal to the Wat/Grand Palace. There are loads of vendors here, each of whom has something different. I grabbed a little roasted banana leaf filled with sweet rice and fruit and a bag of unripe mango with a side of chili paste and sugar. The sweet rice thing was just sweet enough and just the right size for a quick sweet tooth, while the fruit with chili was a gustatory revelation! The chili paste was an intriguing mix of spicy, salty and sweet, and was a perfect foil for the sourish sweet taste of the green mango. I must figure out how to make this chili paste myself!
Khrua Rommai: The best meal of the trip, the last meal of the trip, and the only one that was attributable to other 'hounds! I was looking for something authentic and rustic for our last meal, and this sounded promising, based on the review that another 'hound posted some time ago. Getting there took some doing, since our hotel was lightyears away, but it was well worth the effort! The restaurant is in a garden setting in a residential street near Sukhumvit (on Sukhumvit Soi 36, actually) and is run by a lovely family who are very helpful, given their limited English. The menu is broad and features Isaan (northeastern Thai) cuisine. The stir-fried morning glory was exceptional, as was the chicken lab and the chicken pa hot curry. The only uninteresting dish was nam prik moon (simply poached vegetables with a green chili paste). Definitely get the sticky rice (as opposed to normal long-grained rice) to accompany!
Viz Wat Phra Kaew Ferry Terminal Market, where you said, "The chili paste was an intriguing mix of spicy, salty and sweet ..."
It's called nam pla wan: Boil 2 cups of palm sugar with 1 cup fish sauce (nam pla) till the mixture's sticky/thick. Turn off the flame & simply stir in about 10 small hot chillis (prik kee noo) finely chopped, 4-5 small shallots (finely sliced) & 2 Tbspns dried shrimps (grounded).