Ruamrudee Roaming (Bangkok Food Tour of the Soi)
My travelling husband has been writing again, this time about some of the food and places he has eaten in on his numerous visits for work to Bangkok. If you like what you read you can follow him on Twitter, @asksirstamford
I have travelled to Bangkok many times, always staying in the stay hotel (the Novotel at Ploenchit), which is a perfectly reasonable four star hotel with a pool and in a reasonably good location. An added advantage of the hotel is its proximity to a range of great restaurants and a couple of good bars.
Coffee Bean by Dao
On one of my first trips to Bangkok, whilst I worked for a regional bank in Singapore, a colleague took us to one of her favourite restaurants. Looking at the menu I was amazed to see that it was a selection of Thai and Italian inspired dishes, as well as an enormous selection of cakes and buns, I know, it’s a strange combination, I always go for the Thai dishes. I cannot vouch for any of the cakes as I do not have a sweet tooth and have never sampled any of them. Now, on my visits, I stay at the end of the street and go to the restaurant regularly.
I usually order a starter or appetiser, the Thai Fishcakes, the prawn balls (minced prawn, deep fried and served with sweet chili sauce) or the spicy chicken wings are always excellent winners, followed by a main course with steamed rice. The mains I usually have are often based around the Thai curry theme, red / green / massaman / jungle with beef, chicken or duck. The curries all feature a good level of spice but little chili heat (perhaps I am immune these days, so don’t take my word for it) and the oriental flavour shines up from the pristine plates and bowls. For something a little bit different, why not try the soft-shell crab (I always feel guilty eating a crab that was in the process of moving house), it’s crunchy, sweet and very tasty.
Price-wise, the restaurant is reasonable, the above meal usually costs between 600 and 800 baht, with a couple of Singha beers.
Baan Glom Gig
This is a restaurant I would never have found on my own, as it nestles at the bottom of a dimly lit street, just off the main Ruamrudee Soi, that serves a street food market during the day and a paradise of food scraps for the local stray cats by night. Once off the street you step into an oasis of calm with both outdoor and indoor dining areas (there is a function room upstairs), with the decor being white and clean with interesting artifacts / photos on the walls (there is a statue of Chairman Mao, I am not sure why). Having discovered the place, I come here on every trip, usually more than once, but why? Simple the food is truly excellent. As with Coffee Bean, I usually order a starter and a main (two starters and a main is way too much for one person, please believe me). My starter of choice is a de-constructed chicken drumstick, with the chicken minced and combined with glass noodles and then moulded back into the shape of a drumstick and deep fried. This is very tasty and a little unusual, it puts KFC to shame. Mains are usually the aforementioned curries but on my last trip I selected the large river prawn dish, truly excellent but not that healthy as it is cooked in rather a lot of delicious garlic butter, with the fish’s flesh being sweet and flavoursome (it is a monster prawn).
Hyde & Seek
Hyde & Seek is a gastrobar (whatever a gastrobar is) at the top of the Soi, next to the Plaza Athenee Residences and Hotel and close to the BTS station at Ploenchit, serving western style dishes and a good range of beers and wines (including the ever popular Beer Lao). Just before last Christmas I had to spend a weekend in the city and decided to have Sunday lunch in the bar. Choosing the rack of lamb with roasted potatoes although there is also a creamy dauphinoise potatoes option. The lamb was perfectly cooked, very pink for me and was followed up with a few chilled out beers on the outside terrace. If you happen to be hungry, I’d advise against ordering the scallop dish (although it is fantastic), as it contains only one solitary breadcrumb encrusted mollusc, served in the shell (this does however save room for much more booze).