Trip Report - Bangkok
Summary of my wife and I eating in Bangkok during our short stay as part of a trip to various places in SE Asia.
Venue: Sukhimvit Soi 38
Address: Near Thong Lo BTS Station
Total Bill: 160 Baht (~ £3 GBP / $5 USD)
Soi 38 is a quiet street off Sukhumvit road, right next to the Thong Lo BTS station. There are probably 10 or so stalls and street-front eateries.
When we arrived at around 17:30 the street was pretty dead, with not many people around - but by the time we left around an hour later, the place had more of a buzz about it, with many locals eating at the stalls and shops.
First up, we visitied the BBQ pork stall - I ordered one "BBQ pork" to share, and got a large portion of rice with BBQ pork and sliced BBQ sausage. The pork was perfect, with a crispy crust and succulent meat, and the sausage was coated in a tasty sweet glaze. A bargain at only 50 baht.
Next, just opposite we visited a street-front shop selling a "Chicken Rice". I love the Hainan version and had been expecting that here - but instead we got a Thai version... but this turned out to be a good thing! Instead of the usual thick, sweet, soy sauce, the chicken came with two sauces: a Thai sweet chilli sauce, and a very spicy, sour chilli sauce. There was also two styles of chicken - one boiled, one fried. The chicken was really succulent, and the sauces were amazing - especially the sour chilli sauce. As with the "normal" Hainan version, A small bowl of clear chicken soup also came with it. A real bargain at 50 baht - highly recommended!
Finally, the mango and sticky rice stall. This was my first time trying this, so I wasn't sure what to expect... wow... delicious! We shared a large plate of sticky rice coated in thick, rich, coconut cream, with a whole slice, mango. The combination was really wonderful. This is a really rich dessert, and I'm glad the 2 of us shared a plate - there is no way I could eat a whole one myself :) This large portion of delightful, flavourful, richness was another bargain at 60 baht.
Address: 42 Soi Pichai Ronnarong, Sukhumvit Soi 26 Road
Total Bill: 2700 Baht (~ £55 GBP / $88 USD), including one beer and one mojito
Bo.lan is a much-hyped, upscale Thai restaurant around 500 meters down Sukhumvit Soi 26, just beside the Four Wings hotel. We went on a Thursday night, and the place was quite full. They have indoor and outdoor seating areas, and the decor is quiet nice, though not as nice as I had expected from all the hype.
To kick off proceedings I ordered some rice wine with panadanus water - this was a fun aperitif, kind of a Thai version of tequila with salt and lime. There was a small glass of a spiced Thai rice wine, a glass of panadanus water, some small pieces of sour fruits, a line of salt, and a line of ground chilli. The idea is you drink some rice wine, then the panadanus water, then you dip the fruit in the salt and chilli. It was a bit of fun, and I thought teh flavours worked together really well.
We both ordered the same appetiser (there was only one on the small menu) 'bolan before'. The waitress described this as an amuse bouche, but for me an amuse bouche is something free of charge, that you don't order, designed to get your palate going before the main event. So, _not_ an amuse bouche! Anyway, it consisted of five small items, all make with pork, prawn, or pork and prawn; a tiny noodle salad in a glass, little parcels of meat etc. It was beautifully presented, but was only 'good', with a couple of the items actually a bit bland.
Next up were the two mains, along with some brown rice. One of the mains was a green beef curry - this was really dissapointing, and was borderline bland; it lacked seasoning, and ws not in the slightest bit spicy. There were some halved chillies in there (not Thai ones), but they had no heat to them. The other main was stir fried pork with corriander. The pork was undercooked and chewy (pretty unforgivable in such a place), but the sauce was really delicious, with the prodominent flavours being tomato, garlic and coriander. Also, not in the slightest bit spicy.
Overall, quite a disappointment. Seriously overpriced for rather poor, bland food; and when I say bland I don't just mean the usual Thai fiery chilli heat was missing - dishes were underseasoned and generally a bit bland. The stalls on Soi 38 a couple of night previous had been far supeior, for 6% of what we spen at Bo.lan!
Unless you like bland food and your idea of fun is burning your money, I'd give this place a miss.
Thanks for the reviews, especially of Bo.Lan. I have been wanting to eat there, but maybe I will pass. I used to live on Sukhumvit 38, so I am very familiar with the stalls at the end there. I love the mango and sticky rice.
I think the slightly higher prices are because there is frequently a lot of foreigners eating there. Not that it's expensive of course....
Address: 24 Sukhumvit Soi 35
Total Bill: 517 Baht (~ £10 GBP / $17 USD)
Gedhawa is a small restaurant that mainly serves up northern (Lanna) Thai food, with around 10 tables, a few hundred meters up Sukhumvit Soi 35. It's quite a nice looking place, with part of the seating in a kind of courtyard surrounded by lush vegetation.
Most (but not all) of the items on the menu have an English translation.
We ordered northern sausage, green mango salad (a firm favourite of mine), a yellow curry and some rice. The sausage was good, but didn't blow me away - we'd had far better a couple of weeks ago in Chiang Mai. The mango salad was a real delight - fiery, fiery hot with Thai chillies, and that amazing sour dressing. I've tried maming this myself at home (with 'a bit unripe' mango rather than green, which I cannot get), and it's never as good as it is in Thailand. The yellow curry was pretty good, though I admit my mouth was still on fire from the mango salad which meant I probably couldn't taste it properly ;) It was loaded with veg and a few bit of fish and had quite a pungent fish sauce smell about it, but didn't taste 'fishy' (which is just as well, because I don't like 'fishy' fish :)
Overall I'd say it was a good meal, but it didn't wow me, and I don't think I'd bother going back.
IMHO, carts, stalls and small shops are really a great source. When someone cooks just one item, it is usually done well.
For the chicken rice, the sweet, more orange sauce is used with the fried chicken. The darker, spicier sauce is for the boiled.
At 50 baht per dish it does appear that Thonglor has a heavy expat / HiSo influence. The area is quite popular. The food may not be affected, but the prices seem so. We are only talking 10~15 baht per dish, but it's interesting to read the difference.
re: Curt the Soi Hound
Soi 38 was definitely our best meal in Bangkok, and I totally agree about them doing one thing, and doing it really well.
I did think that 50 baht was a bit expensive by Thai standards, but considering it's just off Sukhumvit, right next to a BTS station I don't mind paying a 'premium' of 15 baht or so ;)
I don't remember, but I think it may actually of been one of your previous posts that tipped me off to Soi 38, so if so, thanks :D
As an aside, some people have a real thing about eating at stalls, thinking they are unhygienic, but I've always been fine eating from them all over Asia. In fact, the only place I've ever got food poisoning was from a 5 star hotel in India!