Mar 04, 2010|
Home to a police station, a post office and an immigration bureau, this stronghold of bureaucracy just off Sathon Tai also contains a density of food choices to keep all those paper pushers happy.
For the seasoned street eater, there are more stalls in Suanplu’s main drag and numerous sub-sois and alleys than we could ever document here. The rather short soi 8 alone is teeming with crowds and made-to-order street food. Still, we are always impressed by the large orders received by the noodle stall (on the right hand side. Soi 8. Open daily 10am-10pm) which specializes in rad na. At lunchtime, messenger boys descend to pick up stacks of orders to and haul them back to the nearby offices, though you can also take a seat at their rickety tables and chairs and eat streetside. They also do pad see ewe (B35) and suki (B30). Just past soi 8, before the police station is the non-descript Aharn Muslim (outside Kodak shop. Open Mon-Fri, 10am-4pm) where the friendly couple serves up an interesting menu, involving, of course, kao mok kai and the slightly more unusual kao mok pla (yellow rice with chicken or fish, B35), kway teo kaeng kai (rice noodles with chicken curry, B30) and chicken-and-veggie stuffed samosas, that are reminiscent of their Indian counterparts despite being served with a poh pia dipping sauce.
If you prefer a roof over your head while you eat, then head to Ran Kanom Jeen Pak Tai (between sois 6 and 8, 02-286-2238. Open Mon-Sat, 9am-7pm). They exclusively serve vermicelli noodles with a choice of six different curries. The shophouse is small and features two long communal tables crowded with kanom jeen-appropriate condiments. If you don’t mind rubbing shoulders with strangers while you eat delicious, spicy curry this is a modest but rewarding lunch.
Cross the street and turn right into an unnumbered soi flanked by street stalls, and you’ll find Peun Som Tam Poo Mah (Open Mon-Sat, 11:30am-9pm), tucked away around the bend. This homey, doorless shophouse living room, decorated with two large baby portraits and a television set that’s perpetually on, is a standard, dependable somtam joint, specializing in poo mah (fresh horse crab). The menu has somtam (B30-50), larb, grilled chicken and all manner of yum (B40-60). The place is often packed with large, boisterous groups of workmates.
If you want vegetarian options then there are a few and scattered spots to choose from, with a highlight being UR Station (02-287-1635. Open Mon-Fri, 10am-5pm) on Suanplu soi 5. It promises a meatless menu with a signature dish of croissant with vegetarian ham or tuna (B65), though they also have a decent selection of fake-meat stir-fries as well, such as pad krapao (B55) and fried suki yaki (B60). For a sweet end to the meal, they also offer eggless cakes, fruit smoothies (B45) and the slightly heavier yogurt smoothies (B75). UR Station might be a bit shabby, though air-conditioned, but is often filled with Indian folks crossing the street from the immigration bureau for a quick bite.
When you’ve had it with the lunchtime sun, the crowded sidewalks and the endless lines at the post office, you can scurry over to Baan Suanplu (588 Suanplu Soi 3, 083-123-1859. Open Mon-Sat, 6:30am-3pm), probably the most idyllic place in the city to get a B30 kway teo tom yum or nam sai (rice noodle with spicy soup or radish broth). Everything about it screams street stall—the requisite seasonings, the box full of chopsticks and soup spoons, the one-item menu—but with its yellow walls, plentiful plants and tarp- and umbrella-covered, outdoor seating, Baan Suanplu is the kind of place you could skip class for hours without fear of getting caught—and many youngsters do. The noodle soup comes with generous servings of pork bits and friendly service. They also have a long list of ice cream and sorbet flavors, ranging from watermelon to cha yen (Thai iced tea, B15).