Kai Yang Sua Yai
This colorful shop-house transports the Northeastern dishes of an old street-food favorite into a proper dining setting.
This colorful shop-house transports the Northeastern dishes of an old street-food favorite into a proper dining setting. Tuck into a whole chicken, along with namprik pla ra (chili paste with fermented fish) and somtam poo (papaya salad with freshwater crab). Wash it down with Singha, fruit juice or wine by the glass. They offer about 15 vegetarian dishes, too.
This colorful shop-house transports the dishes of the legendary grilled chicken and somtam joint of the same name on Ratchadapisek into a proper dining setting. (In case you were wondering, the Mangmoom of the title refers to MR Srikhamrung Yukol, the daughter of veteran filmmaker HSH Prince Chatrichalerm Yukol).
Set in the Piman 49 community mall, it rubs shoulders with refined neighbors like Rocket S49, Ramen Tei Premium and high-end Japanese grill Karatama Robatayaki. And if you compare the prices here with those you pay for somtam on the street, Kai Yang Sua Yai by Mangmoom fits right in among this expensive enclave.
The spicy somtam with fermented freshwater crabs and fish (plara), for instance, sets you back B95 (that’s before tax and service charge). The flavors are nice and tangy, though—pretty much how you’d expect to get it on the street, too. If you’re not too worried about price tags, a lot of the dishes hit the spot, in fact, like their legendary crispy grilled chicken (B220 for whole/B120 for half). A world away from the old Ratchadapisek setting, it tastes just as satisfying; the skin is crispy as promised, while the tender meat is seasoned excellently. A classic dish done justice.
Though hardly disastrous, some of the other Isaan staples fail to live up to these heights, with many falling prey to Bangkokians’ love for all things sweet . The recommended Thai somtam with deepfried seabass (B450) is a slight mismatch of saccharine papaya with extremely salty, deep-fried fish. Even dishes like the Southern flat roti with green curry (B155) are a bit too sugary for our liking. The roti is delightfully chewy, though. Some of the sweetness is actually a legitimate guilty pleasure, as with the crispy catfish fried with chili and basil leaves (B155)—piquant and aromatic. Similarly enjoyable is the charcoal-grilled pork neck in spicy salad (B145).
Overall, while prices might be steep, the nightly celebrity crowds can’t be entirely wrong—this hi-so somtam joint mostly hits the mark.