Bangkok and road trip to Nakhon Phanom report
I was recently in Thailand for a wedding, here are thoughts on places we ate in Bangkok as well as along the way to That Phanom, in Nakhon Phanom province. You'll have to excuse the lack of Thai food in Bangkok, but we currently live in central Europe where decent Asian food is rare and we wanted to try and get a wide swath of everything as we knew our time during the road trip would focus on Thai food.
We stayed in Bangkok at the Muse Hotel on Langsuan and had heard the lamb kebabs at the SpeakEasy were great bar snacks. Our first night we headed up top to the SpeakEasy, ordered some beverages, lamb kebabs, tuna cubes, calamari and crab cakes. Although the restaurant was very expensive, not a surprise given the neighbourhood, the kebabs were excellent. A very nice spicy Indian seasoning, tender charred cubes of lamb with a great coriander chili dipping sauce. The seared tuna cubes in sesame were also great as were the crab cakes, but the "salt and pepper" calamari was a bit disappointing as it lacked any salt and pepper.
We only had breakfast one morning at the hotel and was glad it was just one, horribly over priced for a mediocre spread of the usual suspects (both Western and Asian).
The next two breakfasts were at Central World's two different Vietnamese places. First was the Viet French bistro on the 5th floor across from the theatres. We both had a bun dish with spring roll, salad roll and grilled pork as well as side orders of salad rolls. Both dishes were great although lacked the usual fish sauce/chili based dressing we are used to receiving on other bun dishes. Our 2nd day we went to Miss Saigon on the 3rd floor "food balcony". Had a beef Pho, a Vietnamese omelet and two orders of salad rolls. The Pho was very good although the broth lacked a bit of the seasoning we're used to (star anise, coriander, etc...) but the salad rolls were far better here than the place on the 5th floor.
Our final breakfast/lunch was at a nice little Chinese place across the road from the Hotel next to the 7-11. We enjoyed some great fried rice, quick fried shrimp and gai lan in oyster sauce. It was great to get some Chinese flavours as we've been without them for a long time. Nothing fancy or "wow" about this place but it did satisfy a serious craving.
Our second dinner was the bride and groom's choice and they wanted Italian, Kleyoh was kind enough to provide some recommendations and they chose Angelini's at the Shangri-La hotel. This was a magnificent space, great views of the river and exceptional service. Everyone was very happy with their pasta dishes, I ordered the oso bucco and while it was very good, it was really no different or better than I would have made at home. The wine list was good, we enjoyed a very nice prosecco and a great Nero D'avola from Sicily (not cheap, but why would it be in Thailand).
Next dinner was at the CH recommended Somboon on Suriyawong. Boy are we glad we made a reservation as the lineup was significant when we got there. We were ushered up to the 3rd floor and seated amongst the masses of hardcore seafood fans. We ordered the fried crab in curry sauce, grilled fresh water prawns, spring rolls and some great stir fried greens. The food came out fast and hot and we thoroughly enjoyed everything that hit the table, I would not hesitate to return to Somboon on any future trip to Bangkok but will do so with more than two people so we can try more food.
Our last dinner we headed down Langsuan towards Lumpini Park and stopped at Yaki Ten for some Japanese Yakitori. We ordered up a storm of food, including chicken and pork skewers, gyoza and a couple of maki rolls for fun. I'm not a Yakitori expert but this place served great food, no complaints or issues with anything that hit the table and was especially happy with the salmon skin roll as it was a great taste of something we used to always order back home in Canada.
The road trip begins.
Khao Yai wine country was the first stop, PB Valley winery, Sasima Moonlight Villas and Krua Khao Yai as recommended on this board. Lunch at PB Valley was quite good, although the scenery and atmosphere were the greatest highlights. A very beautiful and peaceful part of the country we had not experienced before. We had a wide variety of small plates and some chicken tom yum. The smoked pork ribs were great with a nice turmeric glazing, the crab with spicy green mango was also good, the cheese selection acceptable given where we were and a very good, although not spicy enough, tom yum soup for the group. We did have a couple of bottles of their higher priced Rose, it was tasty but lacked the fresh round fruit taste that I prefer in a Rose. We bought a few bottles to go for the road trip… I was shocked by the price of the wine at the winery... but again this is a highly specialized product in a part of the world not known for wine so I didn’t complain (much).
Dinner was at Krua Khao Yai, we had some fried small fish, seafood salad and numerous other dishes I can no longer remember. It was a great casual place, although we got there a bit late and the staff were eager to see us fed and depart so they could close up.
Breakfast at Sasima Moonlight Villas (which I highly recommend for a stay in wine country) was mediocre but a good attempt to satisfy everyone. There was some western breakfast brought to the room, including eggs, "sausage", ham and toast as well as a Thai rice porridge. The only complaint was no coffee except the ubiquitous Nescafe 3 in 1. A stop at an Amazon Cafe on the highway was mandatory after that.
Next stop was Khon Kaen and the Glacier hotel (close to the Pullman). We had dinner at the "We're Wine" place about 150 metres from the hotel. Surprisingly they had a great Chilean Pinot Noir on the wine list, we had more than a few bottles of this. After the wine there was a wide assortment of food brought out including raw spicy shrimp salad, cooked spicy shrimp salad, an interesting flat spring roll, fried prawns, etc... Everything was good, not outstanding, and we enjoyed our time at the restaurant.
Breakfast at the Glacier was ok, some decent fruit, a good fried rice with Chinese sausage, and good coffee.
Our last stop for the wedding was That Phanom, in Nakhon Phamom and the ThatPhanom Riverview hotel. A sparkling brand new hotel with views of the Mekong from a few rooms, one of which was ours. The hotel was basic but extremely clean, the AirCon powerful, and the staff always helpful.
The big family wedding dinner was held at a place 2 doors down (south) from the hotel on the same side of the street as the hotel, I did not get a translation of the name. The food was all pre-ordered by the bride's family and included some wonderful steamed fish with garlic and chili, cashew and chicken, larb (pork), sum tom, spicy seafood salads, tom yum with river fish, and on and on. It was a great meal and a good opportunity for both families to meet and take some photos.
We returned the next night with all the friends of the groom for dinner and essentially repeated the menu from the previous night but with a few more beer Leo's than when it was just family :-)
Our last meal in the area was the wedding breakfast feast in the bride's village. It was a great feast, with more steamed fish, wonderful whole braised chicken in "soup", tom yum with fish, soy sauce steamed chicken, spicy seafood salads and a wonderful beef in a spicy red soupy sauce with tiny eggplants (?) which was the highlight for me. The wedding and feast were a lot of fun for a bunch of Canadians who had not experienced anything like it before, and we really enjoyed the traditional Issan wedding band that was hired to play the procession, ceremony and part of the feast. I had never heard that style of music, did not expect the electric guitar, but did truly appreciate it.
Thanks for reporting back. Sounded like you had a busy schedule! I'm glad that you managed to dine at Angelini's, one of my fave Italian spots in Bangkok.
Also interesting to read that you enjoyed the beef dish with pea eggplants (ma-kheua phuang/ มะเขือพวง) upcountry. Always great to have local friends show you some genuine local eats.