Soul Food Mahanakorn

Soul Food is strong on both fronts: potent cocktails and perfectly executed regional Thai food. 

Average: 4 (1 vote)
This “Thai-style izakaya” excels in the type of creative spins on traditional street food favorites that set pulses racing. Set on still-buzzy Thonglor, the brainchild of food writer Jarrett Wrisley and wife Candice Lin keeps things fresh with weekly specials, a laid-back vibe and a signature cocktail list brimming with creativity.

An expat serving up regional Thai food in a converted shop house to hordes of hip (and mostly expat) Thonglorites sounds like a recipe for disaster. And yet, it really does work wonderfully because the food is both authentic and genuine enough to get glowing reviews from even the snobbiest of Thai taste buds.

It works because of dishes like the yam hua plee (B130) which is getting pretty hard to track down in this town. The banana flower salad is fresh, zestful and fiery without ever overdoing it either. The laab ped (B200) might be a more common sight, but it is rarely so full bodied and satisfying. Not that there’s anything wrong with familiar food.

We adore the fact that Soul Food even does single dishes, like its textbook kao soi (B140) or a simple lamb pad krapaw with a perfect fried egg (runny yolk, crispy white). That’s because the former food writer and owner of this place has clearly done a lot of homework so that even an unadorned fish grilled in a banana leaf (B160)—flesh cooked just right with subtle, almost smoky notes from the burnt leaf—can be exciting without the need for any jazzy presentation.

We could go on but the menu is short and you’ll have more fun exploring it yourself. Just make sure you wash it down with some of the restaurant’s trademark double pour cocktails. Drinks like the So Fashioned (Heaven Hill Bourbon, Thai basil, cranberry juice, ginger, bitters, B220) continue the local focus and feature plenty of Thai ingredients alongside quality imported spirits. The décor plays second fiddle to both but it certainly acts as a nice canvas with its retro seating and muted tones.

Despite all our high praise, we do have gripes with Soul Food. The service can be sloppy and more akin to a traditional shop house eatery than this new incarnation—despite the tireless efforts of the owner. We also find the farang-heavy crowd slightly unsettling. Still, we can’t blame the restaurant for that: they certainly aren’t catering for a Western palate and prices really aren’t that steep. So ignore your prejudices and step through the door. This place really does serve food that’s good for the soul.

Venue Details
Address: Soul Food Mahanakorn, 56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Thonglor), Bangkok, Thailand
Phone: 02-714-7708
Area: Thonglor
Cuisine: Thai
Price Range: BBB
Opening hours: daily 5:30-11:30pm; Sat-Sun 11:30am-2:30pm
Reservation recommended, Takeaway available
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