Competing with Jae Liab, our favorite street seafood venue on Phahol Yothin Road, Lhao Lhao is a another popular Thai-Chinese seafood joint in the Ari neighborhood. The façade of Lhao Lhao promises a traditional Chinese experience from the get-go, with its big, bright red sign.
The place really hasn’t changed since 1980 but, oddly, you won’t find the Thai-Chinese families that usually populate such places. Instead, the late opening hours from 4pm-4am draw the Ari crowds of laidback office workers and young couples. If you’re a first-timer here, be prepared for one of the longest menu you’ve ever held. Fortunately, it’s well-categorized, by recommended dishes, by ingredients such as seafood or vegetables and by types of dishes, like yam (Thai salads) or tom yam.
The execution here is fairly competent—these people are old hands—but the quality of the produce is often a letdown. The stir-fried rice with crab meat (B160) comes with pedestrian rice lacking flavor. The spicy pickled blue crabs with roe (small B240, large B430) are positively heaped under chili and garlic, perhaps because the mushy crabmeat is often not as fresh as it could be. (It definitely has us reminiscing about Jae Liab’s far superior version of this dish.)
But we’ve also had some pleasant surprises, here. The steamed ruby fish with soy sauce (B110 per 100 gram, or B600 on our last visit) has a soft flesh which absorbs the sweet notes of the soy sauce quite well. The fried fish maw with crab meat (B180), too, is well balanced—unlike the goong ob woonsen (steamed big prawns with glass noodles, B280), which is overly sugary. We’re consistently impressed with their stir-fried vegetables, though, which start from B70.
Perhaps the problem is Lhao Lhao’s ambitions to take on so much. They also serve braised pork and duck—not that either is particularly noteworthy. And isn’t it a bit ridiculous that they charge B5 per guest for the privilege of siting in the air-con area? When you stumble out of a pub in Ari at 2am, that fish maw soup can really hit the spot. Otherwise, you can leave this one to the locals.
|Address:||Lhao Lhao, 1271/6-7 Phahon Yothin Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||daily 3pm-3am|
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