In its transition from a cozy little restaurant on cramped Soi 49 to a soaring-ceilinged, glass-fronted spectacle on Soi Thong Lor, something seems to have shifted for The Orient. Yes, it has some familiar touches: an airy, flowery, wicker, pastel décor, a long wooden white washed staircase that leads up to a breathtaking private room with Benjarong mounted on the wall and an adorable auntie who chats with you like you’re family. Still, the relative opulence of the new place seems incongruous with what’s on the menu, a long and affordable selection of Thai standards and, interestingly, a rather prominent vegetarian section, which makes us wonder about what else has been done to the menu to make it more inclusive. The answer is largely in the flavors, which are milder and, if you like that sort of thing, The Orient offers delicious, fresh dishes with few setbacks. The vegetarian wing bean salad (B125) is crunchy and plentiful (though we thought the sauce was excessive, and lacked complexity). The basil with tofu and black mushroom is a nice balance of mild and salty with lovely deep-fried basil leaves, but we wish they’d add more black mushrooms to make the dish more umami-licious. Other dishes are solid, such as the green curry with chicken and roti, and the grilled pork with deep fried sticky rice, which was a triumph of charred notes and smoky tenderness. Where the latter flatered is with the dipping sauce. The jaew can be watery and lack the smoked, shallot-heavy kick you might expect. The vegetarian mieng kham gway tiew combines luscious noodle sheets with fresh lettuce and loads of condiments, including smoky peanuts, but the nam jim is thick and not the runny, spicy and sour concoction you might find on the streets. Still, we love the space, even though much of the intimacy is lost by the bombastic front end, the adoration of the staff and much of the food, making this a good place to bring spice-adverse aunties, or friends visiting from out of town.
|Address:||The Orient, 1/F, Somerset Building, Sukhumvit Soi 55, Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||Fri-Sat 11am-11pm; Sun-Thu 11am-10pm|
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