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Bangkok - Third time's the charm (I hope!)

Geoff Dec 4, 2012 11:54 AM

For a variety of reasons, had two trips to Bangkok cancelled in the last four years. Scheduled to be there late this month and am looking forward to eating very well. Am doing research and as always am grateful to all of your posts and anyone willing to respond here. Want to focus almost exclusively on Thai food. Not afraid of anything. I imagine a fair amount of skytrain travel.

Staying at the Sukhothai. We have six dinner and five lunch "slots," plus grazing as we're out and about. From past research, i have a long list of places to consider. General strategy is no lunch reservations but stay very casual (and air conditioned, mostly!) wherever we find ourselves in town. Or, be in a particular neighborhood to visit but target a particular place. Does that make sense to you?

Will make dinner reservations. On a recent nontrip we had reservations at Thanying, Supatra River House, Blue Elephant, and Baan Khanitha and Gallery. What do you think of these places and do you think it makes sense to try again? Recommendations for two more in that similar vein?

Am of course reading all posts but always very, very happy to get comments/thoughts/recs. Thanks in advance.

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  1. k
    klyeoh Dec 5, 2012 07:16 AM

    Those are all pretty posh Thai restaurants on your list, and pretty popular amongst expats & foreign tourists - with prices to match.

    If you're into those, you may also want to consider these options:
    - Benjarong, Dusit Thani Hotel,
    - Bussaracum for Royal Thai cuisine - don't miss the rhoom, kratong thong, and chor muang (pic below), 139 Pan Road, Silom, Bangrak. Tel: +66 2714 7804. http://www.bussaracum.com/menu
    - Bo.lan in Khlong Toei. Tel: +66 2 2602962.
    - Jok's Kitchen (private dining), 23 Soi Isara Nuphap, Plub Pla Chai Road, Pom Prap Sattru Phai. Tel: +66 2 2214075
    - Mahanaga, Khlong Toei Nua, Watthana. Tel: +66 2 6623060
    - Patara Fine Thai Cuisine, 375 Soi Sukhumvit 55, Thong Lor 19, Khlong Toei Nua, Watthana. Tel: +66 2 18529601

    For mall eateries, look out for branch outlets of Laem Charoen Seafood, Kalpapruek or Coffee Beans by Dao.

     
    14 Replies
    1. re: klyeoh
      Geoff Dec 5, 2012 10:02 AM

      Thanks - I seem to be following you all over Chowhound - many great recs from you for Singapore too. i have a very long list of places from past research that i'm looking at again, and i recognize it's almost crazy to just ask "where do you like to eat?" But......if you have a ready made list or thoughts of places you like for Thai food, and no they absolutely do not have to be posh at all, i'm all eyes/ears. thanks!

      1. re: Geoff
        k
        klyeoh Dec 5, 2012 06:35 PM

        Bangkok is a pretty special place for me as my maternal grandparents are both Bangkok-born Thai-Chinese - they moved to Singapore in the 1930s, part of an influx of the Chinese diaspora from Thailand into Singapore at the time. That's why, till today, the ethnic-Teochew (called Taechew in Thailand) Chinese food in Singapore bore heavy resemblance to that in Bangkok.

        I still visit Bangkok at least annually to visit relatives & friends there, and Bangkok's a mere 1.5 hour's flight from Singapore.Whilst I don't read or write Thai, I speak enough to get by in a restaurant or to navigate a taxi driver.

        Do you have any specific Thai dish which you're hankering for, or you're okay with the generic offerings from family-style Thai restaurants? S&P restaurant chain is another one which offers good value for money, and whose renditions of standard Thai fare (tom yum, pad Thai, etc) will blow the versions you'd have tried in the US out of the water :-D

        1. re: klyeoh
          Geoff Dec 6, 2012 11:13 AM

          Very interesting, thanks for sharing that. we don't have a particular dish/dishes we crave. What we want is good food, big flavor, and spicy (as much as us farangs can take, anyway) is good.

          Sukhothai is also recommending Nahm (at Metropolitan Hotel), Bo Lan, and Issaya. Thoughts?

          Also, a strategy question. Depending on the weather (we do this in Singapore too) it could make sense for us to do a "nice" meal at lunch and leave the street and super casual stuff for evening, after dark. Do you/others think it matters one way or the other?

          THANK YOU!

          1. re: Geoff
            k
            klyeoh Dec 6, 2012 03:49 PM

            I'd not tried Nahm in Bangkok, but only been to its soon-to-close original London outlet a couple of times. I liked the place very much actually, albeit the high prices - authentic flavors & high quality produce. Still, the fact that David Thompson himself will be cooking in Bangkok is very exciting indeed.

            Bo.lan has had mixed responses from Chowhounders - if you do go, I'll be very interested to hear what you think.

            Your plan to do a big nice meal at mid-day sounds pragmatic. Besides, most street places (e.g. In Yaowarat/Chinatown) only open in the evenings anyway.

            1. re: klyeoh
              c
              cacruden Dec 6, 2012 03:56 PM

              Did not hear that Nahm London was closing, surprised, but at this point with book sales etc. he might not need the money and the hassle.... Australia and Thailand are much closer....

              I am actually quite happy to see him come here and reside.... there are too few Thai cookbooks of any breadth (in addition to his two books), so being here will give him a chance to improve them. The (english) world needs more Thai cookbooks :o

              1. re: cacruden
                k
                klyeoh Dec 6, 2012 06:21 PM

                I was tipped off about Nahm London's impending closure by our UK Chowhounds during my recent London visit. David Thompson cited difficulty to procure quality ingredients needed for Thai cooking there - the restaurant also lost its Michelin-star last year. Sad, it wasn't cheap, but I really enjoyed its lobster tom yum and guinea fowl kaeng khaew wan in the past. But as the world gets more globalised and Londoners are travelling more & experiencing "real" Thai food in Bangkok, they'd start asking why Nahm London's offerings are pretty 'standard' stuff, exhorbitantly expensive.

                Here's one of the news items on Nahm's impending closure next week:
                http://www.australiantimes.co.uk/news/uk-australian-news/aussie-chefs-london-restaurant-nahm-set-to-close.htm

                I bought my copy of David Thompson's Aharn Thai cookbook a few years back in Bangkok. I'd been a fan of David Thompson's ever since I first tried his cooking at Darley Street Thai in Sydney back in the early-90s. Then, in the 2000s, Sailor Thai at the Rocks in Sydney became my go-to place for Thai food. I think Sydney has some of the best Thai restaurants in the world outside of Thailand. Singapore's Thanying is okay but over-priced, whilst KL's Erawan is also up there with the best outside Thailand (http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/858864).

                1. re: klyeoh
                  Curt the Soi Hound Dec 6, 2012 06:34 PM

                  "Lobster tom yum" and "guinea fowl kaeng kheaew wan"

                  Yup, pretty standard stuff! I'm sure they ate their fill, here in Thailand ...

                  Perhaps Bo.Lan's "bite of somtam on a weathered plank" might please them more.

                  1. re: Curt the Soi Hound
                    k
                    klyeoh Dec 6, 2012 07:31 PM

                    LOL! Yup, my eyes popped when I first saw those items on the menu. But my first trip to Nahm at that time happened on my first evening in London, right after a 5-week stay in Dublin. After more than a month of Irish food, everything at Nahm *really* tasted SO good then.

                  2. re: klyeoh
                    c
                    cacruden Dec 6, 2012 06:47 PM

                    Ya, Lobster Tom Yum must have been expensive :o I remember seeing them loaded live in the hold of an aircraft I was on enroute through Halifax NS (my parent's city). In Halifax, those things were cheap (steamed at supermarket, then eat in backyard), in London.... lobsters were incredibly expensive.... I can understand the difficulty getting things like thai eggplants, sweet thai basil, and holy basil that do not age well in a northern climate city. My gut though thinks those are all excuses. London is a great city to visit, but living there.... not so much.... probably just got tired of it and wants to be located somewhere better ... whether it is here or in his native country Australia where he can source the ingredients much easier. He has lived here before for many years -- and speaks and writes Thai.... so he just probably wanted to go back to a better lifestyle.

                    1. re: cacruden
                      k
                      klyeoh Dec 6, 2012 07:40 PM

                      " My gut though thinks those are all excuses. London is a great city to visit, but living there.... not so much.... probably just got tired of it and wants to be located somewhere better "
                      ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

                      You're spot on, cacruden. I think the London dining crowd also tired of it as well, moving on to newer eateries and dining trends (this year - it's American cuisine!), and losing the much-coveted Michelin star was the final straw for David Thompson.

                      You do get very authentic flavors in London's Thai restaurants these days, even the pea eggplant (Thai: มะเขือพวง) is relatively easy to come by. But local Thai spots are quite affordable & very accessible nowadays:
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/780882
                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/773270

                      1. re: cacruden
                        PhilD Dec 7, 2012 04:16 PM

                        Cacruden - I read a more in depth interview with DT about his problems in London. Apparently he sourced a lot of great stuff in Thailand only to have much of it confiscated by customs in the UK as it wasn't allowed to be imported due to agricultural regs. He also found a lot of the good fresh stuff just didn't travel and by the time they got it is was fairly average quality. I know the EU does ban fresh Kaffir Limes and leaves so not surprised other things don't get through.

                        I always found Nahm in London was a pale shadow of Darley Street Thai in Sydney (and agree with Klyeoh) that Sydney has some great Thai food - and it is getting better despite DST and Sailors Thai having faded into history. I like the food at Nahm in Bangkok but didn't like the service it really detracted from the meal, I also liked Bo.Lan but view the two meals as different enough not to be directly comparable.

                2. re: Geoff
                  c
                  cacruden Dec 6, 2012 03:54 PM

                  IMHO, (been to Nahm twice, Bo Lan once) Nahm had better food than Bo Lan, Bo Lan had better ambience. I don't believe adjusting spiciness is accepted at Nahm, if a dish is too spicy you are expected to order something else :p Never been to Issaya.

                  Nahm is David Thompson's restaurant, Bo Lan was opened up in Bangkok a year proceeding by a protege of David Thompson.

                  I believe that the Sukhothai Hotel is located a short walk to the SE corner of Lumpini Park, (as of 2 years ago) at the NW corner of the park on the west side (same street that the skytrain runs along) there is an outdoor parking lot with street food vendors that was pretty popular. They will bring a menu (english) to your table, but I am not sure the same menu covers all vendors or if different areas of tables they bring you different menus :o

                  There are probably a lot more street food vendors (south) in that area since at night there are a lot of hungry girls that need to be fed :o Not sure about the restaurants and lunches though - never been at lunchtime.

                  Night time will definitely be cooler to eat outside. Actually right now the temperature at night is quite comfortable (for me anyway, but then I don't find the daytime temperatures to hot yet).

                  1. re: Geoff
                    h
                    helen b Jul 17, 2013 11:09 AM

                    Has anyone on here been to Issaya Siamese Club? Geoff, did you end up going? It looks gorgeous but am wondering, with Nahm, whether we're already ticking the posh box and whether it would be better to do a more typical Thai family restaurant. Plus I have a primal need for curried crab. No frills and furbelows. Just curried crab...

                    1. re: helen b
                      Geoff Jul 22, 2013 11:32 AM

                      We went to Nahm but not Issaya. If you want "posh" Nahm definitely fits that bill...........and we had a really lovely and amazing meal. No farang spicing here - huge flavor, big spicy, beautiful space. Highly recommended.

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