On our last night here, my Bin is taking me and a couple of our friends to his favorite restaurant in Bangkok: Somboon. It’s an eating-place that serves Thai food with a touch of Chinese, if you could call it that. “I’ve eaten here like, ten times and it’s just the BEST!” He raves.
The ideal Thai meal aims to strike a harmonious blend of the spicy, the sweet, and the sour. It satisfies the eyes, nose, and palate. Somboon fulfills on all counts, though it looks like a Chinese restaurant with its fluorescent lighting. A pot of hot tea is refilled promptly, the hot libation aiding digestion for our soon-to-be overloaded stomachs.
The specialty is crab, and we order the curry crab, de-shelled at that. It arrives looking like orange mush, and somehow I miss the ritual of cracking the shell and teasing out the meat with metal picks. The dish is satisfying, the crab-meat exceptionally soft, but I feel that the curry overpowers the delicate flavor of the crab. Next time I’ll insist that we try the chili crab.
I think that the best fish is fried fish. It’s an outré statement to make in these obsessively-healthy times, but when I’m faced with a fish this fresh, this crispy, then I can forget about everything else. The sauce that it’s napped in is an exhilarating blend of nam pla (Thai fish sauce) and what I suspect is honey. I find myself spooning ladlefuls of the sauce onto my rice and eating happily.
Of course no meal of mine in Thailand is complete without the requisite tom yum goong, also served in a shabu-shabu hotpot, just like at Home Kitchen. Somboon’s version isn’t as sour but it’s just as hearty with plenty of straw mushrooms and prawns. I rip off the heads and suck away at the juice, comfortable that I’m with friends and knowing they won’t think I’m a slob. Heehee.
Aside from the tom yum goong, an oyster omelette is a dish I demand. “Divine, just divine,” our friends mutter after each forkful. They’re Australian, and this kind of food is foreign but fascinating to them. The oysters are practically bursting in their bigness, each bite spurting a taste of the sea. For a change in pace, I occasionally bite off a sprig of cilantro, its peppery spark refreshing my tongue.
The two prawn dishes we order seem almost extraneous after the combination of strongly flavored dishes that came before them. Still, the prawns with leeks and the plainly grilled prawns serve their purpose of neutralizing our palates, making us all want to eat more. And that can never be a bad thing.
4 branches in Bangkok
Next Up: Swinging in Singapore