For an Authentic Thai Meal in Bangkok, Start at Suda
One of the most memorable Thai culinary experiences for me was when my wife and I met a couple of her friends who were visiting Bangkok from Australia. At the time, we were staying at the Sheraton Grande right across the road from the Terminal 21, so they suggested we meet somewhere close to our hotel since most of the excitement was in that area.
The restaurant we decided to meet at was a short five minute walk around the corner of our hotel. The place was located off the main road. It had their main windows and doors open and the tables and chairs spilled into the streets (or parking lot, I don’t remember), and the place… was… packed.
The kind server made a place for the four of us and we sat right in the middle of the other diners. This place was exciting and all the customers seemed to be enjoying their meals.
As we looked over the single page, laminated menu, the waitress offered to choose a few dishes she thought we might like. Most of the dishes ordered were the common Thai dishes of the stir-fried morning glory, braised and fried pork ribs (sii khrong muu yang), somtam, grilled chicken with lemon grass (gai yang), crab-fried rice and the stir-fried crab meat.
While we waited for our food, we enjoyed a couple ice-cold Changs as we conversed about our travels and experiences in Thailand. By then, I’ve already been in Thailand for three months because of work while my wife’s friends were in the country for just a few days for vacay, so their experiences differed greatly from ours. My wife joined me about two weeks before her friends had arrived and most of our travels were limited to the borders of Bangkok as I had to stay close to my office. So listening to their stories just made us even more excited as we couldn’t wait to finally be able to step outside of the city, which would be in a few weeks when my vacay starts.
It wasn’t even 10 minutes when our food started coming out. First came the morning glory, then the chicken and the servers were going around scooping heaps of steamed rice onto our plastic plates. The morning glory was tender and seasoned just right. The chicken was flavorful, smokey and had the right amount of chew. However, the highlight was when the crab meat came out. It looked like watery scrambled eggs stuffed with crab meat with the sides slightly crispy from cooking in the oil. I take a spoonful and place it over my rice before putting the combo in my mouth. Wow. The egg was moist and fluffy and seasoned through. It had a slightly briny taste that accentuated the flavors of the crab meat and OH MY GOD was it so delightful. I never tasted anything like it. It was so good we ordered it two more times before we had to admit to ourselves we had eaten way too much.
Suda. Although it isn’t the fancy, modern, “clean” establishment many tourists tend to eat at during their trips to Thailand, it is a diner the locals seem to enjoy eating at and I can see why. If you’re ever in town and want to try some delicious, local foods but are still too timid to try the street stalls, this is a great place to start. Don’t forget to get crab meat.