Uncle Jeff Kitchen
You can count Bangkok’s dedicated Malaysian restaurants on one hand (and good ones on a couple of digits), which makes the discovery of this humble restaurant all the more exciting.
Occupying the lobby of a boutique guesthouse on Ekkamai Soi 10, Uncle Jeff’s Kitchen serves homespun Malay-Chinese dishes in a kitsch, comforting setting. Vintage bric-a-brac, muraled walls and patterned tiles combine to evoke the old-school shop-houses of Penang.
The menu of hawker staples—nasi lemak, pan mee, roti canai, laksa, curries and sambal grills—is delivered with enough care for detail to more than overcome a few blips in service. There are some six versions of nasi lemak to choose from; plump for Uncle Jeff’s signature (B249), which features creamy coconut rice accompanied by fried and hard-boiled eggs, dried anchovies, juicy shell-on prawns and squid in a sambal (chili paste) that’s powerful but just about palatable for newcomers.
We probably couldn’t say that of everything here. Marked as “spice-level four,” the mala pan mee (B189)—chewy flat flour noodles, minced pork, mushrooms and pork balls in a rich pork and anchovy soup—had us sweating just a few slurps in, but with a squeeze of lime definitely rewards the adventurous.
Be sure to visit on Fri-Sun if you want to try their seafood laksa (B249); in its absence, we were pointed towards the Malaysian chicken and potato curry (B209/B399), whose big, bold turmeric and cumin flavors measure up well. To mop up the wickedly sludgy gravy (the portion is big, even for a small size), you’ll have to order a side of roti canai (B179 for three), which comes with its own side of even more gravy. But be sure to do so, because this warm, flaky flatbread is tasty even on its own.
In such company, we’d probably avoid the deep-fried chicken wings (B229 for three), which come across as a pale KFC copycat (as good as that might still be).
For all its retro charm, Uncle Jeff’s is not the place for a roaring night out. They’ve got beer (Tiger, B120) but our recent nighttime visit was remarkable for the complete absence of music, perhaps out of consideration for the hotel guests above. These guests returned the gesture by loitering about loudly, some in their pajamas. That hardly takes the shine off a meal that’s big on flavor and character—end on a nostalgic note with a Milo Dinosaur drink (B109).
This review took place in March 2018 and is based on a visit to the restaurant without the restaurant's knowledge. For more on BK's review policy, click here.