decent thai food and rather uppity service at this hard-to-find restaurant (what is the thai equivalent of bistro?). back to thailand programming – we have a lot to get through, people! – and no better way than with this place, renowned amongst the prowlers of tripadvisor (such a mixed bag) and readers of lonely planet.
we had a (mis)adventure in getting to this place – we just could not find it for more than an hour, at which point the partner was getting a little testy. every second person we asked gave us contradictory directions (probably should have waited to ask a third person), and in the end we found a tuk-tuk that truly knew where it was.
the food was decent, prices reasonable – but we might never come back, and here’s why.
let’s start with the good: we felt like we were truly eating proper thai food. never mind that the other customers in the store were all caucasian tourists, which usually indicates a lack of so-called authenticity – the food was well-seasoned and expertly cooked, the flavours bright and fresh and vibrant, the portions decent.
the walls are lined with cut-out newsheets from international papers, and you’re furnished with a crazy-large menu (english available) with all the permutations of thai food you could possibly want. the lady boss sits at her table in the back of the restaurant – and she ain’t getting up; you shout your order over to her (while being respectful, of course).
we started off with their renowned banana flower salad, and it was delicious. if you’ve never tried this, the tender banana flower bud is cut into thin slivers (rather feels like a very crunchy cabbage) and tossed with nuts, a creamy sauce and other accoutrements I’d be hardpressed to identify. suffice to say it was incredibly tasty – I love anything with nut sauces (rich and creamy), and it was incredibly refreshing.
you must know by now that I have high esteem for the way the thais and viets saute their vegetables, and this was no exception. the portion was on the small side, but the chinese broccoli (or kailan) stems were crunchy and crisp, the prawns fresh, and everything fragrant from garlic.
do you also have that affliction that makes you order calamari when it’s on a menu? we do, unfortunately, and it didn’t serve us well this time. the squid was fresh, but the batter was greasy and not quite crisp enough.
but the green beef curry was plenty good. creamy and highly savoury, and chockful of brinjal and slices of beef; the latter was slightly stringy and dry, but not unexpectedly so – rather like the sort of beef you’d get in a good rendang. there were lots of bitter pea-like brinjals (makheau phuang), which I thought gave good contrast to the otherwise rich dish; if you’d rather not, there are sweeter quartered baby brinjals in the mix.
so good food – but half the meal was spent with the partner thwacking away at the table because he had seen a baby cockroach (we still aren’t sure if it was one or many more) peeking out the unsealed slits of the wooden table. when the lady boss arose from her rather uppity languidness to inquire – and we told her – she rather shrugged it off (thereby incurring the never-coming-backness of the partner).
I feel like the restaurant/bistro is best analogised with the dusty plastic flowers on the tables – it could be incredibly vibrant because the food really is quite delicious, but it’s worn out at the edges and slightly unattractive from the lady boss’s better-than-thou superiority and the rather unfortunate incident of the cockroach(es).
prices are reasonable – seeing as how most of us come from rather price-inflationary cosmopolitan cities – but on the high side by bangkokian standards, which might explain the lack of locals in here. worth a visit (I hope you escape the dreaded brown pest) if you’re off visiting the palaces, but skip the walk-and-ask-for-directions and go directly on a tuk-tuk, and skip dessert – there’s some fantastic mango sticky rice nearby.
146 Praeng Phuton Rd
tel +66 2 221 4082
$$: four dishes for about fifteen singapore dollars