We used to think this eatery was always crowded because of the lack of nearby dining options, but, in fact, this pleasant garden venue is home to an exciting, flavorful menu. Set in a wooden house by Khlong Bang Sue, it also comes replete with old photos hanging on the wall and all sorts of baan baan wooden furnishings. Although the place serves some classics, the highlights are the more unusual dishes featuring combinations we’re not familiar with, like madan (a kind of Thai herb) and leaf fish, or chamuang (a kind of Thai herb) and spare ribs. The recommended dork chom jan pad gung (stir-fried Thai flower with shrimp, B120) is lovely. The flower tastes a bit mushy and carries a slightly bitter aftertaste, but these don’t detract from what is a delicious option. We also like the pla rad song jai (deep fried giant gouramy, B320) that comes with a highly enjoyable sweet sauce. The fish is perfectly battered with a nice crisp texture. Even a more common dish like the nang ngam song nah (deep fried shrimp cake topped with seaweed, B160) is a delight. With real chunks of minced shrimps, the dish exudes freshness and is not the least bit greasy. With its weak flavors, the namprik kee ga (chili paste served with vegetables, B160) isn’t too exciting, but we still think it’s an OK selection. Meanwhile, as already stated, some dishes combine unlikely ingredients to stunning effect: the yam platoo mamuang sod (mackerel in spicy salad with mango and lemongrass, B120) is appetizingly zesty and really, really refreshing. The place has never been quiet, but be warned: service can be quite rough from the start. If you don’t have a reservation on the weekends, don’t expect to even get into the parking area, and the wait time for your meal may exceed an hour during busy times. Still, should you make it past these obstacles, Suan Kanwela proves to be a homey spot that gets packed with suan rod fai crowds after a taste of real Thai cuisine with plenty of twists but no fusion. No corkage charge.
|Suan Kanwela, 73/60 Kamphaeng Phet Rd., Bangkok, Thailand
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