Unlike cliched East-West cuisine that earned “fusion” the scorn it has garnered over the years, Pla Dib’s innovative presentation and emphasis on “rawness” (as in uncooked food as well as sparse concrete walls and no frills seating) has earned it a reputation among the indie denizens that populate the area. Besides tasty dishes, this fresh joint also has an art gallery out front and DJs spinning loungey Brazilian music, house and soul.
There’s a difference between restaurants whose interiors are bare and minimalist on purpose and those that are bare and minimalist by circumstance. The interior of Pla Dib seems to be a mixture of both, with its raw cement exterior, bare walls and windows and overall indifference to small details—such as the makeshift hose used as a faucet in the bathroom sink. Like a neighborhood bar, the staff and clientele are informally dressed and the service way too relaxed. The weather is fair, so we plant ourselves outside on the small garden terrace, which is poorly lit and needing at least two more hanging lights. The menu has a number of interesting items, including sushi, which makes it hard for indecisives like us to choose. We start off with recommended dishes: soft-shell crab salad with wasabi mayonaise dressing and salmon with larb sauce. These arrive quite quickly. The salad consists of crunchy soft-shell crabs over fresh hydroponic greens, and the two go well with the thick, wasabi-tinged dressing. Our only complaint is that the dressing is too thick and goopy, and the salad is smothered in it. Next time we’ll ask for dressing on the side. The salmon is strange but tasty—and does taste exactly like larb, complete with powdered rice for a distinctive crunch. Unfortunately, the strong Isaan flavor of the sauce overpowers the raw salmon. Again, we’d prefer this dish more if the sauce was served on the side. Seeing that the portions of the dishes aren’t huge, we go about ordering our mains without fear of getting too stuffed too soon. The Australian rib eye steak is tender and juicy and conveniently sliced for us in bite-sized portions, confirming our belief that this place really is more of a bar than a restaurant: These dishes are better-suited for picking at and sharing than digging into solo with knife and fork. To the venue’s credit, all dishes arrived swiftly—except for the, er, “quick-cooking” sesame tuna steak, which was a disaster. It took forever to arrive, and when it finally did, the pink center was ice-cold. Quick-cooking is one thing, but there’s another technique called “thawing” that the chef might want to look up. Pla Dip is a great informal bar with excellent drink-friendly snacks and appetizers, but not the best place for a real dinner.
|Address:||Pla Dib, 1/1 Ari Samphan Soi 7, Rama 6 Rd., Bangkok, Thailand|
|Opening hours:||Tue-Sun 4-11pm|
|Reservation recommended, Parking available|
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