Thai people should start being nicer to fancy Thai restaurants, starting with old friend, Naj. The place clearly puts a lot of attention into its gorgeous ambience and some of the traditional dishes served up are very enjoyable. Located on Soi Convent, the restaurant rather predictably attracts older businessmen during lunch and foreigners and group tours in the evening. The charming antique three-story white house once belonged to an aristocratic family during the reign of Rama V—it even has an underground bomb shelter that now acts as a wine cellar. The interior is lavishly decorated with Thai silk, khon masks and faux Thai pagodas. And, fortunately, the food works just as well. Dishes like the khao kluk pad naamprik pla duk yang (stir-fried rice with grilled catfish served with vegetables, B160) offers a delightful balance of flavors—sweet, spicy and sour thanks to the fresh, raw mangoes. Naj also has the ability to educate, offering rare dishes hard to find elsewhere. The pla krapong talay sauce som kaek (stir-fried seabass fillet with garcinia and ginger, B450) was a real treat: the garcinia really adds season to the dish, making it zesty and downright special. And make sure you try their naamprik goong lhon (shrimp paste with coconut cream served with soft-boiled vegetables, B160). It’s a simple dish that lets their wonderful signature Southern coconut milk shine, while the shrimp relish just keeps you going back for more. We admit we’re relieved to find that they seem to stick to pretty traditional recipes. The only toned down dish we encountered is the disappointing kang tai pla (Southern fish curry, B150). It’s a small misstep for a place that clearly has an eye for detail. Take the simplest of elements, the rice. We really like how they offer both brown and white and serve it in a very cute sueng (traditional rice cooker). We’re always hearing how the strong aromas and flavors of street food mean it’s not just cheaper, but also better than proper Thai restaurants. While that can be true, we would also argue that they offer a totally different experience. And in a solid place like Naj, the attention to detail, the high standards of service, the lovely atmosphere and the top quality ingredients make it well worth the extra expense.