CHEF CONCIERGE • July 2019
Born and raised in 1970s Bangkok, Kay Plunkett-Hogge’s culinary career has long been centred on the intoxicating tastes and scents of her native Thailand. An esteemed author and journalist with successes in the worlds of food, fashion and film, the champion of Thai home cooking tells The Club about Bangkok’s best bites
Breakfast worth getting up early for
On the corner of Silom and Soi Saladaeng is Khun Mamoon’s noodle restaurant, Wor Rasamee. His family have owned it for more than 100 years. Order the pork noodle soup, guay teow nahm moo, with thin noodles and add a good dash of his secret sauce, which is on the tables. Across the street, look out for Khun Udonsak’s khao mun gai stall. You can’t miss it, because there’ll be whole cooked chickens hanging from his cart. He serves an exceptional Hainanese chicken and rice, one of Thailand’s most popular breakfasts.
Modern Thai eaterie
100 Mahaseth (pictured below) is one of my favourite (relatively) new places to eat in Bangkok. Chef Chalee Kader and his team take a nose-to-tail concept, hit it with northeastern Isaan flavours, and turn everything up to 11. Don’t miss the raw beef laarp, the goat ribs with pickled shallots, and the very witty ‘Northerners Hot dog’ – a smoked northern Thai sausage (sai uah), tucked into a soft brioche bun and topped with smoky dip. Joyous.
Ruen Urai is tucked away in a traditional wooden house in the grounds of the Rose Hotel. They serve elegant, honest Thai food, perfect for zeroing in one’s palate for the food adventure to come. Order the raw tuna laarp, lha dtiang – a rare dish these days, made of pork and prawns wrapped in an egg lattice – and the crab meat curry with betel leaves. Be sure to have a post-prandial wander to gaze at the owner’s fabulous antiques.
Classic foodie souvenir
I tend towards bringing home rice, particularly single-farm rice from all over Thailand that I buy at the food court at Siam Paragon. Alternatively, head for the Nittaya Curry Shop on Chakraphong Road. Nittaya exports some of the finest curry pastes on the market – my go-to paste if I’m not making my own – so you can have a taste and buy your own, ready for travel. It also sells classic Thai sweets.
Where to impress on a date
Issaya Siamese Club (pictured above), no question. This is superstar Thai chef Ian Kittichai’s flagship restaurant, in a beautiful old Thai house, nestled within a peaceful garden. It seems as though you’re far from the bustle of Bangkok. As lovely as that is, it’s the food that will blow you away. Ian brings cutting-edge modern technique to classical Thai cookery – don’t miss the lobster hor mok, the baby back pork ribs, finished at the table, and the outstanding green curry macarons.
Dining experience worth leaving the city for
Take the Green Line south to Samut Prakhan on the Chao Phraya estuary, and visit Sompong Seafood. Dine on beautiful oysters with traditional Thai toppings and the sweetest clams, or go for my favourite: the blue swimmer crab legs served with the signature Sompong dip. It’s open from 11am–10pm, and near the Pak Nam wet market, so visit there first to whet your appetite.
Great place for a post-dinner drink
Tep Bar (pictured above and top of page) serves traditional ya dong (infused rice spirits) alongside contemporary cocktails, and offers live music from classical Thai music students. Vesper, on the other hand, boasts great international whiskies and gins. But if you want to step back into the Bangkok of yesteryear, try the Madrid Bar on Patpong. Run by my friend Jenny – she took it over from her mother, who opened it in 1969 – it’s one of the last of the Vietnam-era bars. It is historic and old-school, and I love it. If the walls could talk…
Interview by Hannah Ralph