A bit further out than we’re used to, and bearing an old-fashioned moniker, Bulandunmek is a stronghold of that modest, laid-back style of Thai dining we miss from our college days: the kind of place you go to because it’s cheap, delicious and has a faithful following, festive décor and acoustic music. The vibe here is friendly and unpretentious, with colorful tablecloths and lots of trees with sprawling branches over the second-floor open space. We love the retro touches like the blue window frames, yellow walls and nostalgic posters. The menu promises “no MSG” and yet manages to deliver largely full-flavored dishes. (A word to non-Thais: the menu is all in Thai.) A bite of the yam talay dum (seafood salad with black preserved-egg, B140) begins with the pleasantly sour taste of lime juice which is quickly followed by the spicy and pungent smell from onions and garlic. The kao pad tom yam goong (shrimp fried rice with dried spicy soup, B80) is pretty good, too, and looks like a mini version of tom yam soup with all the herbs present in tiny little bits. A less usual dish, the gaeng kua hoy kom (fresh snail in coconut soup, B135) is a take on an old recipe, but they make it slightly different than the market version by using smaller fresh snails (less terrifying if you’re squeamish about these things) in a slightly sweet but good, thick coconut milk with acacia and kaffir lime leaf. Yum! A splurge on a more extravagant dish like the pla kra pong long tang (deep fried seabass with herbs, B320) is well-rewarded, and it even comes with squid in a shu shee-like curry dressing. It looks great and tastes super fresh. Accompanying the inexpensive, solid fare is live Thai pop music (take it or leave it) and a clientele of 30-somethings. Our big gripe, though, is with the drinks. On our last visit, the orange juice (B60) wasn’t fresh and the watermelon shake (B65) not nearly sweet enough. Of course, despite the mistakes at the bar, this is still a good option for a mid-week, semi-festive dinner with friends when you’re on a budget.
|Address:||Bulandunmek, 127/306 Rama 3, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 4pm-midnight|
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