Tucked away in the back-alleys of the internationally-flavored Sukhumvit Soi 39, Kram does unfussy Thai dishes in a setting that’s a real urban escape. The restaurant is the brainchild of Supreecha Junsunjai, the heir of the famous chain Baan Ying Cafe & Meal, who has converted a retro white house and filled its spacious garden with bean bags, picnic-style seating and hanging light bulbs.
It’s not just a pretty picture, though, as the kitchen serves up a very solid array of classic Thai dishes, including some much-sought-after Southern recipes. First off, we’re especially glad that the flavors aren’t too sweet, as is sadly often the case in this part of town. The gaeng kua poo bai chaploo (curry with crabmeat and wild betel leaf, B340) doesn’t come in the thick curry we expect, but still delivers a well-rounded saltiness, with just a hint of sweetness from the betel leaves. The crab chunks are delicious and plentiful, too.
Another addictive dish is the pak lieng pad khai (stir-fried melinjo leaves with eggs, B160), which, apart from the super-fresh leaves, comes with lots of crispy dried shrimps for a delightful, crunchy texture. It’s these little touches that impress us the most. The pla rak gluay pad prik khing (stir-fried horseface loach with sweet chili paste, B220) makes you wonder how they imbued the tiny fish with such bursts of herbal flavor. Even classic pub grub like the laab moo tord (deep-fried minced pork with herbs, B140) is surprisingly delicate and aromatic.
There are some dishes that don’t quite hit the heights, like the stirfried crab with yellow chili (B340), which is just a little one-dimensional. But like most of the menu, dessert is simple and satisfying, offering a variety of Thai ice cream flavors (B85) like coconut ice cream with a frankincense aroma or Thai tea with crunchy khao tang (rice cracker).
The best news is they’re now getting serious about their booze, too, with a lengthy wine list, some craft beers and a few standard cocktails. There aren’t too many places like Kram in the center of town, and we’re left wondering why.