| | Ruan Songnaree: A Thai restaurant
Ruan Songnaree is a Thai restaurant that has been in Sukhumvit Soi 33 for as long as I can remember. So for at least the past 35 years it has been in the one location and the thought occurred to me yesterday as I walked past it that it had to be doing something right to stay in business for as long as it has in what is undoubtedly a highly competitive market place.
So we agreed we would try this old established restaurant for dinner and walked into the place at 6.30 pm to find that we were the only patrons. About two minutes later a lone male arrived and sat behind us and for the remainder of our meal it was just the three diners.
The restaurant is very pleasantly done out. It has polished parquet wooden floors, solid wooden tables, decorative Thai tablecloths with a lone orchid in a small vase on each table.
We ordered orange juices at the start as we perused the menu. Upon sipping the “orange juice” it soon became apparent that it was not orange juice at all, but a very sweet orange cordial. In a country that produces so much natural juice, why is it that some restaurants sell orange cordial as orange juice?
The restaurant’s menu is extensive with over a 100 offerings of various Thai dishes. After a few minutes consideration the Shopper Girl and your correspondent ordered the following: 1 x chicken Som Tam; 1 x prawns sweet and sour; 1 x morning glory, 1 x Thai shrimp cakes.
The waitress inquired if we would like to have rice to which I replied in the negative which resulted in a look of surprise on her face. However, with so much food ordered I felt that we wouldn’t be able to handle a bowl of rice as well.
We didn’t have to wait long for the Thai shrimp cakes to arrive. The cakes were really good. The mulched shrimp was coated in a crunchy coating of tapioca flour and something that almost resembled corn flakes before being deep fried. The dish came to table dressed with coriander leaves and some endive lettuce leaves. These shrimp cakes were probably the best I have ever tasted in Thailand or anywhere else for that matter. They numbered five total and the Shopper Girl could only grab two before I devoured the other three.
Just as we were finished the superb starter the main courses arrived. The chicken some tam, like the Thai shrimp cakes, came to the table on an oblong ceramic dish, dressed with coriander leaves and an orchid.
The som tam was just we way we liked it, that is, not so numbing hot that we couldn’t taste the ingredients but sufficiently robust in flavour that you instantly knew you were eating one of the country’s famous dishes. The chicken pieces were somewhat minuscule, once again like the earlier shrimps they had been coated in tapioca flour and quickly deep fried. Overall the dish was very pleasant version of one of Thailand's national masterpieces.
The Morning Glory was as usual a lovely healthy dish, with the dark green vegetables residing in a round ceramic dish swimming in a combination of soy and fish sauces. Once again it was a very pleasant dish to eat and to mix with our other selections.
The prawns sweet and sour was OK. That is to say it wasn’t memorable or outstanding nor was it unpleasant. It was the sort of dish that could be presented at any of thousands of restaurant in Bangkok and elsewhere without eliciting a comment on its authenticity.
The service was good as it should have been with only three people in the restaurant and when I asked for the bill a little later I was presented with the following:
3 x orange juices @ 60 baht each, total 180 baht; 1 x chicken som tam 265 baht; 1 x prawns sweet and sour, 265 baht; 1 x morning glory 135 baht; 1 x serving of Thai shrimp cakes 135 baht. TOTAL: 980 baht which equated to $AUD39.78.
SCORE: Ambience 7/10; service, 8/10; food, 8/10; value for money, 5/10: TOTAL: 28/40.
WHERE: Ruan Songnaree restaurant is located at 7/4-5 Soi Sukhumvit 33. Tel: 02-662-2804. Bookings are probably not necessary. It takes all of the major credit cards. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday it has a traditional Thai dance show. The restaurant can be found about 50 metres past the massive Lotus Hotel in the same soi.
RECOMMENDATION: I can recommend this very pleasant restaurant for some good quality Thai food. It is priced higher than some other parts of Bangkok, but it is located in the Thonglor/Upper Sukhumvit part of the city where rents are high, tourists numbers are thick and as a consequence those factors are a determinant of the price.
OUTSTANDING DISH If you decide to try Ruan Songnaree a must have is the outstanding Thai shrimp cakes. As mentioned above they are probably the best Thai shrimp cakes I've ever eaten.