It’s easy to assume that the Thai restaurants in traditional teak houses in the Sukhumvit area appeal only to tourists through their kitsch décor and toned-down dishes. But not so Ruen Mallika, where they use homegrown vegetables and herbs and don’t hold back on the chili. Unfortunately, beyond the heat, the flavors are rather pedestrian. Set in a small sub-soi, the nicely-decorated two-story restaurant is nestled in a peaceful garden. Arrive early because you might need some time to leaf through the huge menu, complete with photographs of every single dish and, a little oddly, their herbal ingredients. Their recommendations can be found in the opening pages, including the chun cheu boossaba (fried butterfly peas, pagoda, cowslip creeper and sesbania flowers, B200 for small). Though pricy, the dish is OK: the flowers lightly battered and not too floury, but we would expect a condiment more complex than hot sauce from the bottle, and that the dish not be served cold, as on our last visit. Our pick, rather, is the highly aromatic mee krob song krueng (deep fried vermicelli with soybean curd, B180), as it’s not easy to find a really flavorful mee krob. Then there is their kai jiew poo horapa (crab meat and basil omelet, B180) which is nice and fluffy, though a little too salty—but at least the basil is not soaked in oil. Namprik goong sod kai tom (shrimp and boiled egg in spicy salad, B250) is also a fairly reliable option, with just the right amount of zest. However, the gang pa gai baan (free-range chicken in spicy herbal soup, B300), though spicy and fragrant, lacks the flavor to be particularly memorable. Maybe we’d just prefer that Ruen Mallika didn’t dub themselves as Royal Thai cuisine, simply because they carve all the vegetables on your plate. The dishes really are nothing too far out of the ordinary. The range of flavors is solid and the vegetables fresh, which is more than you can expect from the host of tourist traps around town, but not enough to elevate this restaurant to a higher realm. Corkage B500.