A couple of days before setting off on our holidays, I received an email from a fellow North West blogger who writes ‘Mellor View’ (see here). It said, ‘I see that you are going to Bangkok soon, if you can find the time check out Soul Food Mahanakorn (here).
With a lot to do at work before we set off and with most of my trip’s eating itinerary sorted I didn’t have time to check out the link before travelling. Fortunately though, when in Bangkok, due to a couple of schedule changes, we found ourselves with a spare night.
Having already explored the area around Thonglor and liked the whole hip, arty and chilled vibe, we decided to return to the area and give ‘Soul Food’ a go – and boy, are we glad that we did.
Thong Lor (or Sukhumvit Soi 55) is the 55th ‘Soi’ (side street) off the major Sukhumvit Road. The BTS (Skytrain) station that serves it is called Thong Lo and the area is often called Thonglor – confused? So were we at first but we soon got the hang of it!
An area popular with expats but still very Thai, you will find ‘farang’ owned galleries, cool bars, bistros and restaurants as well as plenty of Thai owned shops, food stalls and eateries (including the excellent and very authentic Ruea Thong – see here).
What we particularly liked about this area is that is seemed sufficiently off of the radar of most Khao San Road dwelling backpacker / touristy types and far removed from the seedy Patpong, Soi Cowboy and Nana red light areas.
The restaurant itself is a cosy, dimly lit (not great for pictures) three story building. The top floor houses the kitchen; the second floor has a mixture of counter seating, wooden chairs and banquettes – great for social eating. Downstairs has more seating and a well stocked bar noted for its good cocktails.
Southern Thai Samosas – food always looks good when served on a wooden platter with a Pandan leaf and these golden samosas made with crispy spring roll paper and filled with minced chicken and cumin were no exception. They were served with a perfectly cooling mint & yoghurt dip.
Tiger Prawn Satay – Wild tiger prawns marinated overnight in Malay spices and coconut milk and grilled over charcoal. Perfect with the satay sauce and fresh chilli, cucumber and coriander accompaniment.
Crisp Papaya Salad – this was one of the better papaya salads I’ve had (not too sweet and not too much fish sauce) - hand-cut strips of crunchy green papaya with tomatoes, snake beans, coconut sugar, dried prawns and peanuts.
Pat See Ew – translating as ‘fried (with) soy sauce’, Pat See Ew is made with fresh rice noodles called ‘sen yai’ (or ‘big strip’) as opposed to the thinner ‘rice stick’ used in Pad Thai. The noodles had been wok seared with rich, smoky pork jowl, crispy kale and heaps of crispy fried garlic. A squeeze of fresh lime juice added a delicious extra hit of citric acidity to balance the palm sugar and sweet and sour tamarind taste.
Sticky Tamarind Ribs – earlier in the year I attended Ribstock in London where a dozen of the city’s best rib and meat joints (and Chef Ben Spalding) and had a ‘rib-off’ judged by Gizzi Erskine, Angela Hartnett and a few other luminaries… I can tell you that had these ribs been there, they would have been a serious contender - tender pork ribs braised in a tamarind barbecue sauce and then grilled with caramelised pineapple chutney. Finger licking fabulous!
Flank Steak Nahm Tok – Translating as ‘waterfall steak’, Nahm (Nam) Tok refers to the lime and fish sauce dressing that had been liberally applied to the marinated beef. Grilled medium rare with fresh and dried chillies, red onions, roasted rice powder and Thai herbs, this dish was exceptionally good – one of the best dishes I tasted in Thailand. I also ordered a side of organic brown rice.
Crab and Lemongrass Curry with Rice Noodles – a tasty crab curry with spicy coconut, lemongrass and chilli served with rice noodles, beansprouts, cucumber, dried chillies and Thai herbs.
Fish in a Leaf – a lovely dish featuring a fillet of fresh sea bass wrapped in a banana leaf with lemongrass, dill, banana blossom and lime and grilled over coals. One that I intend to recreate next summer when I have a barbeque!
Feeling full, to end the meal we just ordered a scoop of Lychee Sorbet and Durian Ice Cream – both were delicious!
Thanks to Ted at Mellor View for the recommendation. If you find yourself in Bangkok any time soon, see if you can find room to fit Soul Food Mahanakorn on your itinerary!