Less than impressed - Chote Chitr in Bangkok
My husband and I went to the Chote Chitr hole-in-the-wall restaurant for our first meal out in Bangkok. I had found it from a quick search on the CH boards, but I now understand that it has received a good deal of press from the New York Times, FT and several guidebooks.
Having gathered all of this international attention, and by default, foreign clients, I now think Chote Chitr is resting on its laurels and is not worth the trip.
Chote Chitr was within easy walking distance of our hotel, located just off of Tanao Road. Walking down this road, you pass several busy streetside restaurants and stalls. I understand part of the charm of Chote Chitr is that is a 'hidden gem' in an authentic non-touristy part of Bangkok.
However, it is hidden no more!
Every single one of the diners in the restaurant was a foreigner (all North Americans, in fact) which was a complete contrast to the other restaurants in the neighborhood filled with locals. I do not automatically subscribe to the idea that if a place attracts lots of tourists (or expats), it is necessarily bad, but it certainly detracted from the meal as we could have been anywhere back home in the States. It did not feel like we were in a foreign country at all.
I was really looking forward to the food, but I was somewhat disappointed. Maybe my expectations were too high, but I have had equally if not more delicious food in Thailand for MUCH less money. Bear in mind that the bill will be vastly cheaper than an equivalent meal anywhere in the US or Europe, but paying over the odds in Thailand is really unnecessary when there is such fantastic food to be had at very inexpensive prices (especially at an equivalent local hole-in-the-wall place).
Both of our curries were lukewarm, and the beef in my husband's curry was tough and chewy - he said it was simply spicy without being that tasty. Neither were particularly memorable. The banana leaf salad was the highlight of our meal. I did notice that the proprietor suggested the exact same dishes to all new customers who sat down - the shrimp 'sushi' curry and banana salad. Maybe they just make up huge batches of these dishes for the evening knowing that many new customers will simply go with these recommendations.
Ten minutes after leaving Chote Chitr, I attempted to make a purchase at a store down the street with the 500 baht bill which the Chote Chitr proprietor had given me as change for our bill. Upon looking at the bill, the store owner told me it was a counterfeit bill. He actually accompanied me back to Chote Chitr to inform the woman who had given me the bill that it was a fake. When confronted, the woman at Chote Chitr looked equally annoyed and sheepish, but promptly exchanged the counterfeit bill for a new (real) one.
I have no idea whether the Chote Chitr proprietor knew whether it was a fake bill or not, but the whole experience left a bad taste in our mouths.
I would not recommend Chote Chitr and will be looking for new places to eat in Bangkok, especially as I have realized the Dinso Road/Mahannop Road/Tanao Road is so rich in street eats.
Just as an eatery fill with tourists doesn't neccessarily mean bad food, a restaurant full of Thais doesn't always mean good food. Many sit down venues are popular for reasons other than the food. Make sure you see the patrons actually chowing down before you use that benchmark.
Many places recieve rave reviews simply because they are the only places visited. Bangkok's eateries can be a bit daunting to someone unfamiliar. Foreign reviews opens the doors to the unitiated. I just hope they head a little further outside the comfort zone.
really disappointing to hear since that's one of our favorite restaurants and it is/was a special place because of the history and the interesting dishes. thanon tanao has some other excellent eating spots, but mostly, in my experience, for lunch. hope we can find somewhere to replace chote chitr!
i have been there many times and i'll say i've never been disappointed with the food. there are some interesting things on the menu and even the "typical" dishes are more interesting and flavorful. and it's been the same proprietress and assistant every time i go. the proprietress can be a little grouchy at times though! next time i'm there i'll report back with my experience.
ps - if you do decide to go, try to go for lunch since you can get the best sticky rice in bangkok around the corner (they close at 4 so it doesn't work for dinner).
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