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Best Food Neighborhood in Bangkok


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Another interesting option in the budget range is the Atlanta. It's down Sukhumvit Soi 2 (almost down to the Tobacco Monopoly). I haven't stayed there, myself, but I checked it out a couple of years back as I'd heard so much about the art deco lobby and its history.

The rooms are "basic" and don't live up to the lobby, but the place is a good deal, and reputable. They keep the rest of lower Sukhumvit out of the premises.

The only down side is this is going to be a little bit of a hike back up the soi to the Nana BTS, and there's nowhere great to eat down the soi (one okay Italian place, but that's not what you're there for).

For neighborhoods for eating, though, I'd say move back up Sukhumvit towards Asoke and beyond. Otherwise, the Silom has a lot to offer, too, and you'd be tied into the BTS there, as well.

The Giant Swing area that Import Food has the guide for is great eating, but you are sort of stuck out there. The same goes for Yaowarat, although the underground will get you to Hualampong.

Now I've got to go and start studying your Tokyo writeups!

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Another interesting option in the budget range is the Atlanta.  It's down Sukhumvit Soi 2 (almost down to the Tobacco Monopoly).  I haven't stayed there, myself, but I checked it out a couple of years back as I'd heard so much about the art deco lobby and its history.

The rooms are "basic" and don't live up to the lobby, but the place is a good deal, and reputable.  They keep the rest of lower Sukhumvit out of the  premises.

The only down side is this is going to be a little bit of a hike back up the soi to the Nana BTS, and there's nowhere great to eat down the soi (one okay Italian place, but that's not what you're there for).

For neighborhoods for eating, though, I'd say move back up Sukhumvit towards Asoke and beyond.  Otherwise, the Silom has  a lot to offer, too, and you'd be tied into the BTS there, as well.

The Giant Swing area that Import Food has the guide for is great eating, but you are sort of stuck out there.  The same goes for Yaowarat, although the underground will get you to Hualampong.

Now I've got to go and start studying your Tokyo writeups!

Peter, as our Sukhumvit expert, are you familiar with this place:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/110108_Realtime...008_real012.php

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Peter, as our Sukhumvit expert, are you familiar with this place:

http://www.bangkokpost.com/110108_Realtime...008_real012.php

I read that article on the New Srifa last weekend, and was interested. BK Magazine also gave it a review and spoke well, and I trust their write-ups more than most.

I checked out the web site, too.... www.newsrifa33.com .... it is pretty spiff (although I gave up on waiting for the intro to load). Blog, history (didn't load right), and plenty of menu items in English and Thai (so you can practice your reading).

The BK piece noted that this was a new trend of old khao tom shops recreating themselves. Sino-Thai, the food can be excellent, and this'll be fun to see more of.

Now, if I can just get down soi 33 (The Dead Artists) without getting distracted......

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history (didn't load right)

They didn't use unicode fonts.

I switched to "Windows Thai" and it worked.

The first menu item was "raw" crab.

Just a couple years back a BKK women's club had a few member acquire worms from somtam pu!

Edited by Stupid_American (log)

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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just a quick update, as this is the first time i've had internet access here in bangkok. staying on sukhumvit soi 19, which is proving to be a fantastic location for catching either the metro or the BTS. already eaten at my choice, polo fried chicken, chote chitr (twice), thip samai, raan jay fai, dalat aw taw kaw, kor panich. i found the chatuchak market and the mbk center food court to both be kind of disappointing. beyond all that, though, this city is truly street food heaven! i am walking around a lot, and snacking (read: stuffing myself silly) between meals. passing so much wonderful food all day, it is impossible to resist. i picked up "thai hawker food", which has been great for getting some great items on the street. i have to admit, i underestimated the wealth of street food this city offers. it is really amazing. that's all for now. off to dinner at thanying. tomorrow, celadon for lunch. after that, who knows. 'til next time!

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Tupac,

One of my old favourites was Likhit Gai Yang beside the Rachadamnoern Muay Thai stadium. They burnt down a couple of years back, but I heard they rebuilt. If you're doing the fights, it's a good stop. Just remember, ask first. They switch nights between Racha and Lumpini.

Lumpini stadium has some good eats outside when the bouts are going on, too.

Cheers,

Peter

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Thanks, Peter!

I actually spoke with one of the staff at my guest house about muay thai the other night...

Her: Have you ever watched muay thai?

Me: No

Her: Well, invite two not-so-good friends out for drinks. Buy them drinks. Then more drinks. Start stupid argument for them. There you go. Muay thai.

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Tupac,

One of my old favourites was Likhit Gai Yang beside the Rachadamnoern Muay Thai stadium.  They burnt down a couple of years back, but I heard they rebuilt.  If you're doing the fights, it's a good stop.  Just remember, ask first.  They switch nights between Racha and Lumpini.

Lumpini stadium has some good eats outside when the bouts are going on, too.

Cheers,

Peter

When we were kids in Bangkok back in the 60's, Likhit was one of the first restaurants my dad took us to. I still remember the hordes of mangy cats underfoot and thinking that they were what was on the plate.

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Tupac,

One of my old favourites was Likhit Gai Yang beside the Rachadamnoern Muay Thai stadium.  They burnt down a couple of years back, but I heard they rebuilt.  If you're doing the fights, it's a good stop.  Just remember, ask first.  They switch nights between Racha and Lumpini.

Lumpini stadium has some good eats outside when the bouts are going on, too.

Cheers,

Peter

When we were kids in Bangkok back in the 60's, Likhit was one of the first restaurants my dad took us to. I still remember the hordes of mangy cats underfoot and thinking that they were what was on the plate.

One of my fondest memories is of watching the old granny that tended the gai yang (grilled chicken) chewing up food and spitting it into the dog's mouth.

I think she may have passed away.

Great chicken, and some outstanding yams. The fighters (that lost) drowning their sorrows in maekhong, regency, or whatever else was on hand. And the crab in clay pot with vermicelli was excellent. And the oyster salad, and the raw prawns in nam pla.....

I'm hungry again.

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Tupac,

Ask your Thai staff what they think of the restaurants mentioned in the Bangkok Post Pick of 2006 Thai mentioned upthread: don't have to visit, but do get an opinion. Sometimes a good restaurant experience also is worth it for certain types of foods.

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just for anyone who happens to be searching through this thread later on, i'm gonna go ahead and say: DO NOT GO TO PEN... a completely empty restaurant at 8:30 on a saturday night doesn't exactly corroborate the claims i read of this seafood restaurant being where thai people go to celebrate.

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just for anyone who happens to be searching through this thread later on, i'm gonna go ahead and say: DO NOT GO TO PEN... a completely empty restaurant at 8:30 on a saturday night doesn't exactly corroborate the claims i read of this seafood restaurant being where thai people go to celebrate.

Tupac,

Where and what is this place? I hadn't heard of it. I thought at first you were warning us off of Cambodia's capital city (an horrible thing to do), but it appears that isn't it.

Was this someplace down on the river, or was it one of the "seafood market" places?

Please advise,

Peter

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It's a seafood restaurant I first about HERE in the New York Times. A quick report over on chowhound is HERE, and the address/phone/etc are HERE.

On my last night in Bangkok, I went with a local woman I'd befriended. We showed up at 8:30 on a Saturday night to a completely empty restaurant. We took it as a bad sign and split.

She called a friend of hers who lives in the neighborhood to get a recommendation nearby, and the place we ended up going to was great. In fact, I'd love to get the information so I can go back next time I'm in Bangkok (there will DEFINITELY be a next time). She wrote HUA PLA CHONG NON SI on my paper. From what I gather, the first two words mean "fish head" and the others refer to the neighborhood. A few Google searches have turned up nothing on the place, and I certainly don't have a clue what road we were on. It was only a very short cab ride away from Pen, and a short ride after the meal back to the BTS station (Saphan Taksin, was it?). Anybody know of this place, by chance?

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Any local taxi driver should know Hua Pla Chong Nonsi. It's in the southern part of Chong Nonsi, on Rama III. Although my in laws love they place, I have renamed it "Salt Soup Restaurant".

Next trip you will have to try Lek Seafood. It is very convenient, located directly beneath the Chong Nonsi BTS platform. I'm sure your friend knows it.

For Bangkok eats, check out my Cheap Eats Bangkok

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[...] I have renamed it "Salt Soup Restaurant".

You like it that much, eh? :biggrin:

I imagine that the things we ordered were pretty foolproof:

- a mixed grill of freshwater prawns, scallops, mussels and clams

- a plate of fresh crab meat sauteed together with egg and spring onion. (This was particularly good.)

- a plate of tempura-like deep fried morning glory. Or was it water mimosa? Stupidly, I don't know, as it was new to me, but I think it was one of these two. Some pieces were longer leaves; and some pieces were about the size and texture of, say, green beans.

- some kind of fish (bass?) stir fry with spring onions and small black things (beans?)

My description of ingredients I don't know makes me sound like an absolute moron! Haha. :biggrin:

Next trip you will have to try Lek Seafood. It is very convenient, located directly beneath the Chong Nonsi BTS platform. I'm sure your friend knows it.

Thank you for the recommendation! I will definitely check it out next time.

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When we were in Bangkok, we ended up at Lek Seafood more than once. Really good, really cheap, and definitely full of locals.

As for morning glory...the first time I had it in Thailand I was confused because it looked like ong choy---what I think of as water spinach. Later on I read that, indeed, what the Thai call morning glory is indeed the same thing.

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Dinner the first night was at My Choice restaurant. My thoughts on the dinner are below, and photos can been seen HERE...

They say that you can’t trust a skinny chef. But you can trust a fat food critic — provided they are as uncompromisingly witty and endlessly knowledgeable as Jeffrey Steingarten. That was my hope, anyway, after reading both his books (each wonderful, by the way). His essay on Thailand in It Must Have Been Something I Ate quickly mentions a small restaurant in Bangkok called My Choice, and my timing in reading this could not have been better. My own little food foray into Asia was just a few days away, and that city was to be my last stop. So as I stepped off the plane that first evening in Bangkok, I had not yet booked a hotel and I didn’t know a single word of Thai, but at least I had a dinner plan.

Walking in the door, I encountered an ambiance that is the very definition of “hip.” If the shiny plastic table covers, lush fake greenery, and mismatched chairs weren’t enough, there were six — count ‘em… six! — other beautiful people there to see and be seen. Take, for example, the decrepit old white guy (think George Carlin) with the cute Thai “girlfriend” half his height and one-fourth his age… they were so happy to be there that they said not a word to each other the entire meal! The food must be that amazing, I thought to myself.

Well, somewhat surprisingly, it was. This dinner turned out to be a great introduction for what was to be a glorious week of eating in Bangkok. It was also my first indication that the best food in Bangkok is to be had either on the street or in restaurants such as this one, with decor befitting a prison, a mechanic’s shop, a dilapidated 1960s-style hotel lobby, or perhaps some beautiful combination of all three.

Without a translator or a knowledge of Thai sign language, I was sadly unable to say “Please fill my table with the most delicious food your restaurant offers.” So I resorted to the next best thing — the “Recommended” section of the menu. Seeing such tried-and-true family favorites as fried fish intestines and stir-fried fermented egg, I knew making just a few choices would not be easy. But noticing the hot and spicy ratings ranging from 0 to 3 stars, I simply choose three dishes with a range of different spice levels.

The first to arrive was yam thua phu, a spicy winged bean salad (#2 on the menu, and a spice rating of 1* for those playing along at home). This delicious salad included winged beans, fried shallots, peanuts, chicken, shrimp, coconut milk, nam pla (fish sauce), sugar, lime juice, dried chilies and who knows what else. Crunchy, tender, crispy, hot, cool, salty, sour, spicy and sweet all at once, this dish did what great Thai food often does — it left me running out of adjectives to describe the harmonious complexity at work. These were my first few bites in Bangkok, and I was already smiling.

Next came the silent killer, gaeng tai pla. Poetically translated on the menu as “fish viscera sauce chili soup” (#17; 3*), I now know it by another name: the absolute spiciest thing I have ever eaten. There were a lot of flavors at work in this soup: shrimp, cauliflower, winged bean, kaffir lime leaves, kaffir lime quarters with the rind removed, baby corn, fresh hot peppers, long beans, lemongrass, ginger, garlic, shallot, tamarind, dried chilies, shrimp paste, and of course fish (mackerel, from what I’ve read) viscera. The chili paste that served as the soup base gave it a dark chocolate color and a fiery kick that only intensified as I continued to eat it. The sticky rice and sliced cucumber served alongside the soup did little to douse the flames. Nevertheless, the soup was delicious, so I decided to grin and cry and sweat and turn red bear it. I would highly recommend ordering this soup, but consider yourself warned: a native Thai person may ask you later on, as they did me, “Wait… you ate that? So spicy!”. They mean it.

My final choice was, thankfully, a bit more tame: stir fried coconut tip with shrimp (#30; 0*). While there were no phantom chilies hiding in the mix here, the flavors were still quite balanced. No small feat for a dish that I’m pretty certain would be overly sweet if I’d ordered it in a Thai restaurant in the United States. While I’m not sure what exactly was in the sauce (by this point, my taste buds had been assaulted by the soup), it was a far cry from the kind of sticky-sweet, cornstarch-thickened sauces I’d been encountering during the prior week in Shanghai. A few scattered chunks of green onion also helped keep the natural sweetness of the coconut in check.

I hadn’t planned on getting dessert, but if you had eaten that soup, you would have, too. Trust me. Quietly exposing the fact that the only Thai words I had learned thus far (from the handy cheat sheet I tore from a Thai Airways magazine) were, not surprisingly, food-related, I ordered ai-tim gathi. Just like the wonderful street snack I encountered again and again on this trip, this coconut ice cream came complete with mix-ins you wouldn’t exactly find at your neighborhood Baskin-Robbins. But eschewing the basil seeds, millet, red beans, and laht chong (bright green noodles flavored and colored by pandanus leaf) one might find at a street stall, this version simply had corn and small chunks of young coconut mixed throughout. Quite tasty, and just enough of the mix-ins to keep this dessert’s texture interesting without distracting from its creaminess.

On a small soi much further down Sukhumvit Road than most tourists would likely be willing to venture, this place is a bit off the beaten path. But getting there couldn’t be easier — it’s literally a 1-minute walk from the Thong Lo BTS station — and there is certainly reward in seeking it out. There is a large menu of traditional Thai favorites to explore, and it’s location and decor ensure that the only people you’ll encounter are those who, like you, care first and foremost about the food. The price is right, too, coming in at about 355 baht (roughly $11) for a meal that (let’s face it) could have easily fed two. Definitely recommended.

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Yes, you can always tell a good restaurant by all us decrepit old white guys hanging out with our girlfriends/wives a quarter our age.

Although not half my height, she is half my weight. :shock:

The girl I spoke of was definitely not the man's girlfriend or wife. I imagine the going rate for such services is a lot higher than what this guy paid...

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Well, now I have to try to find My Choice the next time I'm in Bangkok.  Looking forward to reading the rest of your reports (and did you ever finish Tokyo???).

I'm writing some things about Tokyo as we speak, actually! It will take some time to do both places proper justice.

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(Again, for those who are interested, pictures can be found HERE...)

Heralded by so many guidebooks and food journalists (most notably the late, great R.W. Apple Jr.) over the past several years, I didn’t expect Chote Chitr to have the unassuming charm that it does. But walking past the sandwich board outside displaying the menu in beautiful Thai script and entering this tiny, five-table hole-in-the-wall, I instantly felt, even if I didn’t yet know, that I was in the right place. As soon as I sat down, the fourth-generation owner and chef, Krachoichuli Kimangsawat, came over not with a menu but with a question: “What do you feel like eating today?” The simplicity of her question and the humility in her voice told me that if I just put myself in her hands, I would be well taken care of. So I did. And I was.

The first dish to arrive was ho mok pla, red curry fish cakes steamed in banana leaf cups. Actually, to call them cakes is doing them a disservice, for they were as tender and airy as soufflés. Flavored with red curry paste and fish sauce (and, presumably, egg as a binder), and topped with thickened coconut milk, the fish was at first almost subtle. But a bite taken with the accompanying dip of vinegar and sliced chilies made all of the flavors stand up and be noticed. Sweet, spicy, creamy, and acidic all at once, this was absolutely delicious.

Then came a plate of mee krob, or fried rice noodles. Ubiquitous in Thai restaurants worldwide, the noodles are topped by a sweet-and-sour sauce that often tends too much toward the former and not enough toward the latter. Chote Chitr’s version, however, was very nicely balanced between its sweet, sour, and spicy flavors. The sourness came from both tamarind and the peel of a rare citrus fruit called som saa. A very pleasant heat came from more of those lovely Thai chilies and a bit of ginger. A few shrimp and chicken pieces scattered about were like small hidden treasures I would dig up every few bites, bringing another savory element into the mix. And the raw bean sprouts, long beans, and greens (Chinese kale?) served alongside brought added freshness.

My last dish on that rainy afternoon was yam hua plee, a shredded banana blossom salad with shrimp, chicken, coconut cream, toasted dried chilies, black sesame, fried shallots, and tamarind. Another example of delicious complexity, with mettled rather than muttled flavors. This is only my second write-up for Bangkok and I feel like I’m already sounding like a broken record, but this mix of spicy, sweet, hot, and sour was truly addictive. I happily cleared my plate. Well, all three plates for that matter.

As I walked out that first afternoon full and happy (aren’t those synonymous?), it was clear that one visit to this restaurant was not going to be enough. So I went back the very next day. Remembering me as soon as she approached my table, the chef promised three new dishes. She returned to the kitchen to work her magic, and soon my table was full of delicious food once again.

This time I started with yam makhuea yao, a salad with tender chunks of grilled eggplant, shallots, chilies, lime juice, chicken, both dried and fresh shrimp, and plenty of cilantro. Having been skinned after grilling, the eggplant was so tender as to be almost mushy, without much of the caramelized flavor it might have had if they’d simply peeled and roasted it. Nevertheless, the blandness of the eggplant was made up for with its tart dressing and vibrantly flavorful accompaniments. Having a bit of each ingredient in every bite made for one interesting mouthful after another.

A bowl of tom yum pla, a hot and sour fish soup, nearly brought me to tears. It was, frankly, one of the most amazing soups that I’ve ever tasted. The aroma when it was placed before me was absolutely mesmerizing. Beautifully redolent of lemongrass, basil, lime, and cilantro, I could have smelled it for hours, but by now my mouth was watering in anticipation. As the first sip danced across my taste buds, the aromas that had drawn me in were now bolstered with piquant chilies, shallots, galangal, tamarind, and fish sauce. Next I fished out one of the huge chunks of sea bass, which was flaky and tender. As I tried to process all the flavors, I put my spoon down for about half a second. Picking it back up, I knew that would be the last time it would get any rest before I had finished every last drop of this truly stunning soup.

For my last dish, the chef asked if I might like salmon with mango. With visions of the overcooked farmed salmon with that culinary abomination known as mango salsa that might be signaled by this combination in the US, I agreed, but hesitantly. I need not have worried. What emerged a few minutes later was a huge, bone-in deep-fried salmon steak with sour green mango, chilies, shallots, and vinegar. The salmon still had the skin on, and was given a very light dredging in a tempura-like batter before frying, giving the finished product a wonderful dual-layered crunch. It was cooked to the rarer side of medium, yielding a fork-tender and incredibly moist chunk of fish. The salad and its dressing were bright and spicy. This was huge serving, to be sure, but the vibrantly complimentary flavors meant that eating it never became boring or repetitive.

This is a special place, and one that I would have been happy to return to every single day of my trip. But the culinary wonderland that is Bangkok was beckoning, and there were other places to explore. Like the fragrant and fluffy jasmine rice that accompanied each of the two meals I had here, a visit to this restaurant would be the perfect side dish for any food-focused trip to Bangkok. If any place near me offered such a staggeringly good quality to price ratio, I’m not sure I would ever cook at home. But for now, I’ll simply have to dream about my next trip to Bangkok. And that next heavenly bowl of tom yum pla.

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