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Mar 9, 2011 02:37 AM

Somboon Seafood Vs. Rut & Lek In Bangkok


I used to go to Rut & Lek but was told that the prices have gone up and the food standards have gone down due to the many tourists. My friends recommend Somboon Surawong instead. Any comments appreciated.

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  1. Somboon, at least the Surawong branch, exists for the tourist trade They even have tour buses pull up. IMHO, beyond it's curry crab and stir fried morning glory, the rest of the menu is a toss of the dice. We've found it very inconsistent. Plus, at the Chimchuri square branch, the curry crab was marginal!

    If you want great seafood, and good prices, head to Lek Seafood (not Rut & Lek), directly beneath the Chong Nonsi BTS platform.

    1. I agree with Curt - Somboon's as touristy as Rut & Lek.

      To attest to that: Rut & Lek once even opened a branch in Singapore - located at the foodcourt on the basement of Le Meridien Orchard a few years ago. As for Somboon, it's so well-known amongst Singaporean tourists to Bangkok that a few Singaporean seafood restaurants here have even included an item on their menu generically called "Somboon prawns"!!

      22 Replies
      1. re: klyeoh

        Thanks for the heads up guys.

        The other recommendations I got were:

        Seafood: JeNgor at Sathorn

        Beef Noodles: Ekamai Soi 18 kway teow neer

        Thai: To Sit Restaurant at Soi Ton Son

        Chinese: Lee's Kitchen at Thanon Chan

        Once again, thoughts appreciated.

        1. re: mikey8811

          Not having visited any of those, I'll stick with Lek Seafood, at Chong Nonsi.

          1. re: mikey8811

            A family fave is T Pochana at 646/10 Nai Lert Market, Pratunam, Patchburi Road. My Bangkok aunts/uncles loved organizing family dinners here as it's near their businesses at Central World, Siam Sq, etc. I always end up here during each visit to Bangkok.

            Don't miss their curried crabs (pao pad pong kari) & griled freshwater prawns bursting with roe.

            1. re: klyeoh

              Thanks again. By the way, there was this curried crab dish I once had in Bangkok which is just the crab flesh in a light coloured curry sauce. There are no shells so to speak. Is this the same dish? If not what is the one I describe? Also, I gather all these joints do the obligatory crab meat fried rice?

              1. re: mikey8811

                Not the same dish - at T Pochana, they serve the crabs shell on, but I do believe you can request them to de-shell the crabs for you (will result in an additional charge, of course). Thai-style curried crabs, I'm sure you'll know, are quite oniony, yellowish in color, and has an Indian curry powder-like taste/smell.
                Oh yes, T Pochana does a mean crab meat fried rice!!

                1. re: klyeoh

                  Pu pad pong kari is traditionally a "shell on" dish. Although it is an Asian pastime, I am also one who doesn't care for having to suck the air from the room trying to get to the meat! Most places will shell it.

                  Krua Apsorn is one of the few places that shelled crab is standard with ths dish. Their's is also the meatiest I've come across.

                  1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                    Your pic looked absolutely divine, Curt! Will make sure I make a beeline for Krua Apsorn the next time I'm up in Bangkok.

                    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                      So Krua Apsorn or T. Pochana or Lek Seafood - if I only have one seafood meal?

                      1. re: mikey8811

                        Also, where are these places?

                        Baan Klang Krung or Baan Klang Nam

                        Bua, Soi Convent, Silom Rd

                        Tee Pochana, Pratunam

                        Cote Chitr

                        Does anyone have exact addresses or directions please (i've googled but haven't found anything)? Also, recommendations for what to order appreciated.

                        1. re: mikey8811

                          For T Pochana, you can try the telephone number listed in this LA Times article to ask for directions to get there:

                          Per Baan Klang Krung,

                          My fave Bua outlet is not the Soi Convent one, but the one at:
                          S.V. City
                          Rama 3
                          Bang Phong Phang, Bangkok

                          1. re: mikey8811

                            Chore Chitr has closed.

                            Here is Baan Klang Nam:

                            Here is Lek Seafood:

                            Here is Krua Apsorn:

                            Haven't been to Bann Klang Nam. Going to Wat Chan Nok for Ching Ming. May try it then.

                            It has been some time since I visited Lek, but their gaengsom was mighty tasty.

                            If you make it up to Krua Apsorn, the crab omelet is a must try. The pictured pu pad pong kari is also a good bet.

                            My neighbor introduced us to another interesting eatery, Baan Phuengchom:

                            It's an easy walk from the Ari BTS stop.

                            It offers some tasty treats, including some unique dishes, such as woonsen with 3 smelly vegetables. Their fried banana flower is good too. I believe this was one of Chote Chitr's big hits.

                            If you decide to visit, call ahead to reserve an inside table. Otherwise, there is a good chance you can only be seated outside.


                            1. re: Curt the Soi Hound


                              Thanks guys.

                              Curt, What in detail do you recommend I order at these places? What are the last 2 pics you posted - woonsen (what's this?) with 3 smelly vegetables and fried banana flowers frm Baan Phuengchom?

                              1. re: mikey8811

                                mikey8811, I'll let Curt explain the 2 dishes in detail for you, but woonsen is basically Thai for Chinese tunghoon :-)

                                1. re: mikey8811

                                  Yes, these are from Baan Phuengchom.

                                  Woonsen is a bean noodle, with an almost gelatinous texture. I usually don't care for it, but this dish is different.

                                  The accompanying smelly vegetables are pickled garlic, cha oam and stink bean. Trust me; nothing in this dish is overpowering.

                                  Another interesting dish is Steamed Beef with Mangda Sauce. It's also a house specialty.

                                    1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                                      Thanks guys for all the suggestions.

                                      A brief trip report.

                                      Nahm - the most expensive meal of the trip. Only a farang crowd. David Thompson hasn't lost his touch from the Darley Street Thai days. The canapes were probably the best - Pomelo & grilled prawns with toasted coconut, peanuts, palm sugar & betel leaves (Meng Kiam), Blue swimmer crab, peanuts & pickled garlic on rice cakes,
                                      Smokey Chiang Mai chilli relish (nam prik noom) with pork scratchings & quail eggs. Very refined renditions. Like in all dishes, the whole melange of tastes from sour, sweet, bitter, salty and spicy came out and worked together delicately. The desserts I had never eaten before - they were all very sweet like the Thais like.

                                      Bang Klang Nam - the riverside one. Mostly tourists, ordering the same dishes. Probably the more expensive seafood place. More premium seafood stuff like grilled mini lobsters/ prawns - these had custardy orange roe, grilled scallops, prawn sashimi Thai style, Tom Yum Gung - big prawns in this one the soup had flecks of the roe, crab curry shell on, crab fried rice

                                      Som Tam Nua - man this place was packed. Mostly locals and young people who seemed to be snacking. Good versions of Northern Thai & Issan stuff. Yummy chicken wings.

                                      Krua Apsorn - very good value. Mainly a local crowd although the proprietress highlights all the foreign writeups. I can't recommend this place enough (thanks Curt). Crab omelette, curry crab shell off (easier to eat), mussels stir fried in lemon grass, young lotus root curry, fried fish with mango salad (not great), coconut sorbet (very refreshing after the meal), crab meat fried rice.

                                      Lek Seafood - OK this was good value for the seafood we got but everything was just workmanlike except for the Or Suan which was great. We had better versions of crab curry and crab meat fried rice elsewhere. If my memory serves right, Rut & Lek was tastier and used to be priced about the same, don't know about now. Lek is also quite touristy but has its share of locals too.

                                      Erawan Tea Room - great value afternoon tea set with local savoury and sweet canapes and drinks. Good also for consistent Thai dishes like Mee Krob, minced chicken on rice cakes and a very good crab roe and crab meat fried rice. Tasty coconut creme brulee but I thought the coconut flesh spoiled the smoothness of the cream. Mostly tourists.

                                      Zanotti - above average quality Italian. Mostly tourists. Grilled meats were good value. The recommended pasta dish I found soggy. Nice zabaliogne.

                                      I missed out on the MBK food court - didn't have enough time.

                                      Thanks again for all the tips.

                                      1. re: mikey8811

                                        For another option to the Somboon style place, I have been going to an old school seafood restaurant on my soi (Rang Nam). It's call 'Kuang Seafood' and has a very similar menu to Somboon, but zero tourists. Prices are incredibly reasonable as well.

                                        Here is someone else's write up.

                                2. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                                  Chote Chitr has done an about face and has now re-opened. Finally tried it a couple days ago.

                                  I guess it's settled; I have no taste. Although quite good, it is not, in my opinion, anything special. And, for this type of eatery, it's ridiculously expensive.

                                  1. re: Curt the Soi Hound

                                    Is there any way I can get an address for Krua Apsorn? What BTS is close to?


                        2. re: klyeoh

                          T. Pochana or T. Restaurant has moved from Nai Lert Market (it used to stand where Platinum Fashion Mall is now). It moved about 10 mins drive down Ratchaprarop road, close to the Airport link.

                          T. Restaurant (Seafood)
                          78/12-16 Ratchaprarop Road,
                          Makkasan, Phayathai,
                          Bangkok 10400
                          Tel: +662-247-1061-3

                          Being Thai myself, I'd say it's one of the old favourites of the locals. Great fresh seafood, especially the curry crab. You can ask for crab meat curry so it comes without the shells but I think using you hands is one of the enjoyment of eating crabs!

                          1. re: arunyila

                            Yes, I was at their new location in Feb this year - different spot, exactly the same restaurant layout/furniture: it was almost as if they lifted the entire restaurant and transported it *in toto* to this new place :-D

                            BTW, if you're looking for the most authentic Thai food in Singapore, try A-Roy in Funan Centre. I'd not been back there personally myself for nearly a year now, but it's a stalwart for Thai expats/residents/visitors to Singapore who hankered for a taste of home.

                            A-Roy used to have a branch in Siglap (now-closed). Back in 1993, when Singapore hosted the South-East Asian Games, the Thai national soccer team and other athletes dined at A-Roy EVERY DAY! :-D

                            1. re: klyeoh

                              Thanks klyeoh! I'll try A-Roy out. Haven't found any good Thai place in SG except the ones in Golden Miles complex, though I don't make it there too often.

                    2. I have been to Somboon and Rut & Lek 2 times each and I LOVE Rut & Lek! Their seafood is the best of the best and Tom Yum Kung is to die for!!!!! One complain is there is a begger keep coming during dinning...

                      1. I personally recommend T Pochana( T Restaurant) as I myself am a regular visitor whenever I get the chance to go to BKK for business trips. Their curry crab and fried quid are really spectacular. I would also recommend their steamed fish with soy sauce and their river prawn with XO sauce as these are also my favorites from T Restaurant. If you're looking for fresh and reasonable priced seafood, do not forget to stop by T Restaurant. This is the most updated address of their new restaurant I got from their facebook page:
                        T. Restaurant (Seafood)
                        78/12-16 Ratchaprarop Road,
                        Makkasan, Phayathai,
                        Bangkok 10400
                        Tel: +662-247-1061-3