By Tana Kosiyabong
The Vancouver 2010 Olympics are over. It’s time to move on. During the next two months or so, I will alternate between my Thai culinary adventure stories and Vancouver restaurant reviews. With no further ado, here’s my first installment on Cheap Appetite in Thailand.
I landed on the Suvarnabhumi Airport, the new Bangkok international airport, at 10:30 pm. It was a breeze getting through the Thai immigration and custom. So I had to wait a bit for my brothers to pick me up. By the time we got near our house, it was almost midnight but we did stop at the Sukhumvit 38 Road for some midnight snacks. I wasn’t really hungry, but after all these years in Canada, I was dying for Thai street food.
You can always find something to eat in Bangkok. Along both side of the road stood many night food stalls. If you have 60 baht ($2), you can have a good meal there. I wanted to eat so many dishes, but only had so little space left in my stomach. After a bit of browsing around, I chose Pad Krapow Gai Khai Dow (Stir-fry chicken and Thai Holy Basil with a fried egg on rice—$1.67). Although I could get this dish here at Thai Basil in downtown Vancouver, I’d like to see how it stacked up with a Thai food stall. In Thailand, Pad Krapow Gai Khai Dow’s popularity is comparable to hamburger’s here in North America. It’s arguable the number one street food in Thailand. Unfortunately, I got a lousy Krapow Gai for my first meal.
The next couple of days, I ate like I had a black hole in my stomach. I bought food from almost every food stalls I walked past. And it started to take a toll on me. On top of that, my brothers and sister took turns taking me out for lunches and dinners. Although I won’t be able to cover them all in my Cheap Appetite mission, I will post pictures and captions of those meals on CheapAppetie.com facebook page in the near future.
Despite my passion with street food, I decided that it would be more appropriate to write about well-established restaurants than street vendors. Not only you, my readers, can find the restaurants easier, but you’ll also be safer from food poisoning.
SeeFah is the first restaurant I had planned for my first Cheap Appetite mission. Although it wasn’t cheap by Thai standard, but it’s affordable within my weekly budget. SeeFah was established in 1936. In the early years, it was just an ice cream parlor ran by a couple of Chinese immigrants in Thailand. Over the next decade or so, the restaurant had transformed into a popular Chinese restaurants among the high-society crowd. After the second and third family generations of management, the restaurant has added more Thai menu and expanded into twenty locations throughout Bangkok. For Vancouverites, you can think of SeeFah as Bangkok’s “White Spot.” Or, perhaps, TGI Friday’s if you’re Americans.
I visited SeeFah Thonglor during lunch hour. It still looked the same as it was years ago. After a long contemplating on the menu, I finally decided to narrow the dishes down to a few. For this mission, I chose Khao Khai Khon Goong (Soft omelette shrimp on rice), Kanom Jeen Gang Kheow Wan Gai (Thai sourdough rice noodles with green curry chicken, and Khao Neow Durian (Thai sweet sticky rice with Durian in palm sugar and coconut milk sauce).
The Khao Khai Khon Goong (80 baht–$2.67) had arrived first. The egg omelette was about eighty to eighty five percent cooked. It was served over Thai jasmine rice, then topped with cooked shrimp and cilantro. The dish came with a Thai popular condiment, nampla prik (fish sauce with Thai chilies). Khao Khai Khon Goong is a Chinese inspired dish original to SeeFah. The shrimp was nicely cooked. The uncooked egg combined with nampla prik acted as a savory sauce over the flagrant steam rice. Normally, this dish would be enough for lunch. However, I only visited Thailand once every other year, I had to eat ’til I drop.
Kanom Jeen Gang Kheow Wan Gai (70 baht–$2.33) came soon after. I was a bit underwhelmed by the amount of sourdough noodles served with the dish. It was not enough for a meal. However, please take a good look at the green curry. The color, though muted green, it is very intense. And, unlike French sauce, the oil separation in the Thai curry sauce is very desirable. Sadly, many green curry you found in North America are not only pale to almost white, but also smooth like babies’ butts.
SeeFah Green curry was pretty tasty. It tasted great with the fermented aroma of Kanom Jeen. Only if there were more noodles on the dish, it would have been perfect. Salted egg was a great addition the curry. However, the portion was, again, too small to make any impact on the dish.
Once I finished the main course, it was time for the dessert. Khao Neow Durian (70 baht–$2.33) is one of many great Thai desserts. However, SeeFah’s version of this dessert was disappointing. The sticky rice was brown and soggy as if the restaurant let the sticky rice sat in the palm sugar coconut sauce long before served. They should have added the sauce to sticky rice just right before bringing it to the table. This way the rice will stay white and chewy. The fragrant durian had lost its unique aroma. Although some may find the aroma too strong and offensive, it’s ridiculous to eat Khao Neow Durian without it’s nasty yet delicious flavor. For those of you who couldn’t stand Durian, Khao Neow Ma-muang (Sticky rich with Mango) would be a better option for you.
SeeFah is definitely not the best Thai restaurant in Bangkok. But you’ll be sure to taste clean and decent dishes there (except Khao Neow Durian).
SeeFah Khao Khai Khon Goong: ©©©3/4
SeeFah Khanom Jeen Gang Kheow Wan Gai: ©©©1/4
SeeFah Khao Neow Durian: ©3/4
Remaining Budget: $304.12
Budget Spent: -$7.33 ($2.67+$2.33+$2.33)
Budget Available: $296.79
For all SeeFah locations, addresses and phone numbers, click here.
NOTE: SeeFah added 10% service charge to every dishes on the bill. Yes, even for a party of one like me. Thank for their annoyingly ridiculous practice, I had saved 5% on the tip which, otherwise, I would have given them 15%.
NOTE II: From March 1st to 14th this year, McDonald’s Canada will give away free small coffee all day. Get it while you can.
©2010 Tana Kosiyabong and CheapAppetite.com™. All rights reserved.