BK explores some more of Sam Phraeng’s best grub
In part one of this story (Aug 25) we hopped around the Sam Phraeng neighborhood and introduced various tasty fare from somtam to fresh milk. But the food-studded area still has a lot more to offer. Here are seven more top eats to check out on your next food-hunting trip.
Tom Yum Pig’s Brain
11 Phraeng Phuton Rd., 06-772-1600
Open Mon-Sat 9am-4pm
Don’t be scared. This is not a Fear Factor challenge. A visit to Tom Yum Pig’s Brain will open your eyes to this often overlooked menu item. Entering Phraeng Phuton from Atsadang Road, the small eatery is on the left side across from the camping shop.
The deal: As the name suggests, tom yum pig’s brain is the hot specialty. It has been recommended by food critic Mae Choi Nang Ram and featured in many local and international magazines. The Hakka-style spicy soup includes not only pig’s brain but homemade pork balls, fish balls, entrails, deep-fried fish skin and deep-fried taro balls. Try it and you’ll see that, gross as it sounds, pig’s brain tastes great.
The price: B60/bowl.
Pig’s Brain (Thai Tham)
28/1 Phraeng Phuton Rd., 02-221-7612
Open Mon-Sat 7am-2pm
Just a few steps from Tom Yum Pig’s Brain, on the opposite side of the road, is Pig’s Brain (Thai Tham). This hole-in-the-wall shop has been around for over 40 years—since its owner, Auntie Sudjit, was a young lady. Back then the soup cost only B3!
The deal: “Thai Tham” means made by Thai, so the pig’s brain soup here is prepared with a Thai flair. It has attracted lots of celebrity diners and food critics, including MR Thanadsri Svasti, who gave the eatery the Shell Chuan Chim award. The ingredients are pretty much the same as in the Hakka version, but the broth is clear and fragrant with pepper. The soup runs out quickly; arrive early to avoid disappointment.
The price: B70/bowl.
146 Phraeng Phuton Rd., 02-221-4082
Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm
Chote Chitr is small and unassuming with only five wooden tables. But despite its unpretentious neighborhood setting, the restaurant offers some of the best Thai fare in town, and has been building its admirable reputation for almost a century. Its fame has also reached foreign shores, and international media including the New York Times and London’s Financial Times have written up this local institution.
The deal: There are at least 200 dishes scribbled on the menus hanging on the wall. The highlights are gaeng lieng (mixed vegetable soup with dry shrimps and shrimp paste) and yum hua plee (banana flower salad). But the real scenestealer is mee krob (crispy sweet and sour fried noodles), which comes with generous portion of shrimp and chicken. Vegetarian-friendly, the restaurant also serves up a wide selection of meatless choices. Don’t forget to try Chote Chitr’s best-kept secret, its signature ya dong (traditional herbal liquor), whose recipe is said to help combat illness. Watch out for the eatery’s dogs.
The price: A la carte dishes start at B30. Ya dong is B100/shot, B350/bottle.
Seri Thai Cuisine
87 Phraeng Phuton Rd., 02-223-8416
Open daily 10:30am-9pm
From the outside—and, okay, the inside too—this place is not at all attractive. The restaurant sign is old and tatty and the white tile floor is turning yellow. The service is so-so. But the 10-year-old restaurant still manages to draw the crowds with its no-frills Thai cooking.
The deal: The menu features standard (some would say boring) fare you can find elsewhere, like tom yum and green curry, plus a selection of one-plate quick dishes. Skip those and order Seri’s must-try pla ta pien rai kang (deep-fried fish), which is so crisp you can eat the bones.
The price: Side dishes start at B30. For the deep-fried fish, prices vary by size starting at B140.
Nai Kim Thong’s Beef Noodles
71 Phraeng Phutorn Rd., 02-222-0744
Open Mon-Sat 11am-4pm
On the same side of the street as Seri is Nai Kim Thong’s Beef Noodles. In spite of its faded walls, scuffed woodwork and plain décor, customers frequent this shop for its tasty noodles. The busy man cooking the noodles (Mr. Kim Thong?) doesn’t have time for chitchat, but you can always count on him for fast service.
The deal: This Shell Chuan Chim-recommended restaurant’s homemade beef balls are what keep the regulars coming back. On the cooking stall sits a huge stainless steel pot full of mouth-watering braised beef. Tender and savory, the beef couldn’t be more satisfying. But a bigger portion could be an improvement.
The price: B30/bowl.
78 Phraeng Phutorn Rd., 02-221-3042
Open Mon-Sat 7am-3:30pm
Udom Pochana has tried out a few locations around the neighborhood before settling in its present spot. However, the eatery has managed to preserve its khao muu daeng (rice with BBQ pork) recipe for three generations, striving to live up to its slogan “60 Years Same Taste.” Most of the customers are government employees who flock to the family-run restaurant during their lunch break.
The deal: While known for its tried-and-true khao muu daeng, Udom Pochana has also added new items such as fresh spring rolls and noodles to the menu. Make sure to try the recommended Chinese-style beef stew and pork curry.
The price: Everything is B30.
94 Phraeng Phutorn Rd., 02-221-3954, 02-622-2455
Open Mon-Sat 9am-5pm
Go straight from Udom Pochana and you’ll find Natthaporn Ice Cream, a specialty shop whose reputation has outgrown its tiny setting. Over 50 years ago, the famous ice cream parlor started up with just one flavor: coconut milk. Now not only does it have a new and bigger outlet on Tanao Road, Natthaporn Ice Cream also tempts your sweet tooth with more flavors.
The deal: Those craving rich and velvety ice cream might be disappointed—Natthaporn is all about light Thai-style treats. Even the coconut milk flavor is refreshing. Other flavors include chocolate, milk, coconut, iced tea and coffee. Homemade sweet sticky rice makes a nice topping for your ice cream. For an indulgent treat, the owner recommends matching your favorite ice cream with a slice of homemade cake.
The price: B15. Take-away pints are B175-255, depending on the flavor.