Hom Pla Pao
New eatery Hom Pla Pao serves up Isaan and central Thai classics in a baan baan setting (think pa kao ma fabrics and weaving baskets) with soaring ceilings. Brace yourself for fiery dishes like tom yum phuang khai (unborn chicken eggs in spicy soup, B150), tum tua moo krob (spicy salad with long beans and pork, B80) and the chunky pla tubtim pao (grilled red tilapia,1 set/B300).
It can be a big headache trying to find parking at most of the top Isaan street stalls around town, and then you end up waiting in long queues and sitting at cramped tables next to groups of drunk guys. Sometimes, you just want a nice venue in which to enjoy the comforting flavors of the Northeast without the sidewalk vibe. Not that you want it to hurt your pocket, either.
Hom Pla Pao tries to tick these boxes, serving up reasonably priced street-style Isaan food in a large open-air venue. There’s a cozy atmosphere courtesy of the warm country-style décor: a fountain at its center surrounded by wooden tables, woven hanging lamps and traditional fabrics.
Their menu is one of the biggest for Thai-Isaan we’ve ever seen. Apart from all the somtam, from Thai-Isaan-Lao to Thai-Chinese, there’s an extensive list of single dishes right down to super local regional fare like spicy vegetable soup with weaver ant’s eggs (B150). In the end, though, none of it really satisfies our cravings for real Isaan flavors.
On our last visit, we noted many foreign diners and we can’t help but think this is behind the diluted dishes. Their somtam is good, but more suited to Bangkokian, not Isaan, palates. The somtam pla ra (papaya salad with fermented fish, B70) lacks the in-your-face flavors you’d expect, but at least isn’t too sweet. Their yam poo ma dong (fermented blue crab in spicy salad, B150), though, is disappointing with a sauce that’s sour but not much else. The meat, too, is mushy compared to the fresh choices we’ve had elsewhere.
Their grilled and fried options are also so-so. The grilled pork neck (B70) is too dry while the Hom Pla Pao fried chicken (B120) is crispy but lacking in juicy flavor. And while we’re at it, the sticky rice (B15) is a bit gooey as well.
All that said, the experience is not a completely unpleasant one. We love the baan-baan venue’s country charm and their friendly service—and some dishes do hit the spot. Do try their popular pla tab tim pao (grilled red tilapia stuffed with herbs, B300), which is well grilled and succulent. The om moo (pork and vegetables in spicy rice roast soup, B150) is also well-balanced and bursting with flavor. If all dishes showed such attention to detail, Hom Pla Pao would be onto a real winner.
|Address:||Hom Pla Pao, 138 New Ratchadapisek Soi 18, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Price Range:||B - BB|
|Opening hours:||daily 3-10:30pm|
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