Ari's contender for the spiciest Isaan restaurant in town.
With its 24 seats booked out night after night, Phed Phed is the most buzzing Isaan restaurant in town. The well-priced, fiery and authentic food stands at odds with the chic decor of cool blue tones, marble tabletops and plantlife. The designer touches can be attributed to owners Nattaphong Saehu and Nuthakorn Jivarungsinee, who started the space as a showroom and repair shop for their minimalist bag brand, Mongrest.
Drawing mostly on Nattaphong’s Nakhon Phanom roots, the home-style Isaan dishes feature made-from-scratch ingredients like curry pastes and fermented delights, whether crabs, fish, pork and Isaan sausages. On top of booking a table (lunch and dinner), you’ll also want to call ahead to reserve dishes like the ko moo yang (grilled pork neck, B90) and gaeng om (spicy vegetable soup with pork, B110).
A menu packed with more than 20 varieties of somtam—all with an eight-chili-pepper heat level as the baseline—means there are some tough choices to be made. The heady somtam pu plara (B60) may not be for the faint-hearted, but it comes topped with plentiful kratin beans for a burst of freshness to balance out the fermented fish. We’re also in love with their moo tok crok (grilled pork neck salad, B110), which gets the homey twist of crunchy peanuts and pork crackling on top.
Their take on the Isaan staple of larb moo thod (herbal minced pork balls, B80) is a revelation. Rather than being crisp, the coating of roasted rice simply adds texture to meatballs that melt with juicy flavor. Other great examples of their attention to detail are the Isaan sausage (B50) that’s full of meaty-spicy goodness and not the fatty mess you get elsewhere, and the rich, aromatic tom saep moo (spicy clear soup with pork ribs, B95). In contrast to all the tangy dishes, only the gaeng nor mai (fresh bamboo shoot soup, B95) remains stuck in neutral.
While Bangkok’s Isaan bistro scene (Somtam Der, Lao Lao) has never been stronger, we’ve no bones in saying Phed Phed is the real deal: uncompromised flavors, super-friendly places, seasonal desserts (currently including a refreshing mang kut loy kaew [mangosteen in syrup], B65) and cool vibes. It’s just a shame there are no cocktails—you’ll have to settle for one of the rotating local craft beers. No corkage charge