fair, but largely unexceptional thai cooking at this restaurant in central world, bangkok. we were walking around trying to find a restaurant that was not-too-expensive, not-too-casual and not-too-crowded, and found it here – but we also got found not-quite-remarkable cooking in that mix.
nothing wrong with the cooking of course, but it’s the sort of establishment I would delineate for friday night what-do-we-eat dinners than any special occasion dining. except for those pork ribs up there, which were pretty dang good.
it’s a typical thai menu, set in a rather semi-modern mid-range thai-restaurant decor, and nothing that really stands out. the restaurant had a pretty good crowd going – almost all tables filled, but no waiting queue – and the staff were slightly harried but otherwise, all you see is all you get.
ordering in a thai restaurant like this is standard-going: start off with tom yum, get a salad, pick a meat to go with rice, and round it all out with a plate of sauteed vegetables (we know how I like this). all the dishes were satisfactory, so let’s stick with what surprised us.
I had rather an inordinate amount of curiosity for this dish when I spotted it on the menu: an array of blanched vegetables surrounding a bowl of “spicy shrimp paste”. what arrived was a chopped-and-pounded mixture – almost like a seafood salsa – with mainly unrecognizable components. I spotted dried shrimp (which had been soaked and rehydrated to a pleasant chew akin to clams), but I’d be hard-pressed to name anything else in there.
did it taste good? yes – and without any of that pungency one typically associates with shrimp paste in asia (usually fermented, and usually identifiable a mile away). but there’s no escaping that it’s a rather plain dip with plain blanched vegetables – make sure you like the latter.
I’ve also mentioned the pork ribs up there – but these really were surprisingly good. slightly fatty though not offensively so, they had been braised in a tangy tamaraind type sauce that was great with rice. it’s not a generous portion – but what we did get was good, tender meat.
I don’t want to undersell this place too much – we did finish the meal happy; and it’s comforting sometimes to walk into a restaurant and know you can order your ‘standard’ dishes, and get exactly what you asked for. good for weeknight dinners – and if you’re a tourist as we were, there might be better places to spend your eating time at.
Phan-Khom Bangkok Contemporary Thai Cuisine
4-4/4 Ratchadamri Rd
tel +66 2 252 3668
$$: four dishes = thirty sgd