Lunchtime anywhere near the center of Chong Nonsi is a mess during weekdays. It’s hot, crowded and loud, but take the time to sneak a little deeper into the back sois and there is refuge to be found. Krua Banleng, the decade-old Phaya Thai restaurant that brought its food to Sathorn in August of 2017, is just such a place.
Only a stride or two away from a slate of sweat-soaked outdoor canteens, Krua Banleng wields a bevy of old family recipes and well-sourced ingredients to pull in a small number of more discerning Thai office-goers looking to escape the lunch hordes inside its cozy ’70s-era house during the weekly grind.
This isn’t a 50-baht-lunch-spot by any means, but cut into a chunk of fluffy and rich khai jeow kratiem dong (Thai-style omelet with pickled garlic, B130) and the modestly higher prices seem very reasonable. It doesn’t take more than a few bites to realize the food here is made with care.
You can see this in traditional recipes like the spicy pad Thai goong sod (stir-fried rice noodles with shrimp, B280) or the velvety smooth sauce in the khao tang na tang Krua Banleng (rice crackers with minced pork, shrimp and peanut dip, B120). Dishes like the moo phed soot khun ya (sauteed pork with chili sauce, B160) have clear and defined flavors—a satisfying wallop of peppercorns and diced chilies, creamy sauce and tender strips of pork. It all feels simple, straightforward and well-done.
The homespun approach isn’t a surprise. Krua Banleng is owned by the family of classical music legend Luang Pradit Phairoh. His great grandson, Asdavuth “Aey” Sagarik, oversees operations here, while the kitchen is helmed by Matsakorn Chartviratphuri, daughter of the chef at the original location. To her credit, complaints are few and far between. The moo tod jim nam prik ta daeng (deep-fried pork cutlet with red chili dip, B150) has some gooey bites of fat we don’t like, and the goong lai sue pad horapa (sauteed grilled prawns with fresh Thai basil and chili sauce, B350) comes with an absurd heap of fried basil leaves. But it’s not enough to spoil either dish.
Cozy, unpretentious Thai restaurants aren’t common in this neck of the woods, especially ones so charming, but Krua Banleng definitely feels like a hidden gem among downtown’s lunchtime blitz.