Ramen Tei (Thaniya)
Some of the best ramen and katsu curry in Bangkok.
Ramen Tei is like the white-shirt-dark-tie salarymen that eat here. It doesn’t look very exciting, but it’s very, very good at what it does; in this case, precision comfort food that always has the same, great taste. In fact, on some days, you’ll see a visiting Japanese sensei tasting every single dish before they’re taken out (by the army of equally precise service staff) to the hordes of hungry office workers who pack the tables at lunch—and the noticeably more tipsy ones here in the evening (sake starts from B360 for 300ml and Soi Thaniya is Japanese hostess bar central, after all). It’s hard to convey excitement for dishes you’ve had a million times before, and can get all over town, especially when you first look at the prices they charge here. But take a closer look at the thick katsu cutlet, perfectly breaded without being oily, and the round, fluffy rice it comes with, or the big chunks of carrots and potatoes in the curry sauce, and you’ll immediately understand why it’s B230, not B139 like the other local katsu curry bars. Ramen range from some pretty simple affairs like the big bowl of satisfying syoyu ramen (B150) to decadently rich broths made with pork bones—soups so rich in flavor you’ll be tempted to chew on them. The noodles are neither too thick nor too floury, the snap peas crunchy and fresh, the little omelet balls wonderfully fluffy, the slices of pork tender and toothsome, the broths bursting with umami, and with such a wide selection of ramen (B150-B180) from the slightly bland to the very rich, there’s bound to be one you will like. Not only is the food authentic and deeply satisfying, but portions are gargantuan. Some dishes are even accompanied by a bowl of stock, some pickled veggies and a little salad. (The lunch sets are almost impossible to finish, as they combine noodles, rice dishes and fried meat.) The television tuned in to low-impact aerobics classes for the elderly and the frankly odd soundtrack that swerves from ballads to techno don’t make this a very sexy date spot. And there may be a small handful of Japanese curry and ramen options elsewhere in town that are equally good, but it’s clearly a select club that Ramen Tei can match with its quality and consistency.