An Isaan spin-off from the Ros’Niyom Thai chain.
Not all Isaan dinners can be sweat-soaked shirts and buttock-destroying plastic stools. We have no shame in admitting our love for this city’s league of mall-dwelling, well-air-conditioned, easy-to-franchise Isaan joints such as this one.
Crying Tiger is a recently-created spin-off from the Ros’Niyom Thai chain, and we strongly expect a mini army of these industrially on-trend little Isaan bistros to begin popping up at shopping centers city-wide. We hope it happens sooner rather than later, because Crying Tiger has exactly what we want after an hour spent in the strip-lit sadness of Tops: flavor that hits you round the head.
There’s a tum poo maa (blue crab somtam, B160) that’s salty and biting; a cucumber tum pla raa (fermented fish somtam, B75) that’s fresh, punchy and not for the weak of stomach; and a tum kai-kem (salted egg somtam, B90) that leads with a smack of acidity and goes easy on the sweetness—just how we like it. The tom zaap (hot and spicy soup, B145-265) is equally zingy and powerful, best-ordered with balls of white-pepper-laced ground pork for B179.
The name Crying Tiger comes from the literal English translation of suea rong hai—or beef-steak with spicy chili dip—so naturally you’ll be getting the Thai brisket (B170), and it’s here that you’ll encounter our only big issue with the restaurant: consistency. While one day your request for rare might be met with a juicy-and-pink center, another you’ll get a piece of meat whose time cooking has barely warmed it from the fridge. Don’t say anything at all and you may get your steak well overcooked. Likewise, a pork laab (B110) that sometimes has that just-right dry-and-toasty texture will at others be swimming in a pool of porky brine.
In fact, there’s a lot to turn the foodie snob off from a place like this. The music is ersatz, the decor plays by numbers—incandescent bulbs, faux-retro artwork (“since 2017,” really?)—and there’s about as much chance of anyone from Isaan eating here as there is of Pheu Thai losing a free-and-fair election.
While service is pleasant, we also wish you good luck in getting your sticky rice before you’ve nibbled away half the somtam. Still, so long as there’s grocery shopping to be done in the week, we’ll happily take all the Crying Tigers Bangkok can provide. It may lack a bit of character, but the flavors are bold and the seats are padded.
This review took place in June 2018 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.