A couple of years ago, I was passing through Bangkok for one night only and had the great fortune to dine with a local at Jok Phochana. I knew it was a place I needed to find again on a subsequent trip. A hole-in-the-wall restaurant on an alleyway somewhere in the city though, I wondered if I might ever find it. The food was so good, definitely not your dumbed-down-for-tourists Thai fare, but how to find a restaurant with no address? Enter Google and the magic of GPS tagged photos. A photo on Flickr led us right to a Google map of the location. True enough, it’s a laneway but there it was. Our “address” caused many perplexed (and to be honest, concerned looks) at the hotel reception as we ordered a taxi but we eventually made it there.
Frequented by locals and tourists alike, Jok Phochana has been around for over 40 years, owned and run by the same family. Reminiscent of the soup shops, popular with Chinese immigrant workers in the early days of immigration to Thailand, Jok Phochana offers filling, authentic dishes at reasonable prices and an entertaining welcome from owner Panya Amnajpantanakorn*. We dined for around $20CAD for four people (6 dishes and 5 large beers). Well worth the adventure of finding the place!
Samsen Soi 2, Phra Nakhon
It’s easy to subsist on street food in Bangkok, so heading to nahm run by Michelin-starred chef David Thompson, is definitely a bit of a splurge… We were looking to book a special dinner for a party of 10 in a private room with a set menu and nahm was easily able to accommodate us (the set menus are also available for smaller parties).
Australian-born Thompson is renowned for his Thai cuisine, establishing his reputation with Darley Street Thai in Sydney (1991), then Sailors’ Thai, in 1995 (also in Sydney). Thompson opened nahm in London in 2001, and was awarded the first ever Michelin star for Thai cuisine just over a year later. nahm in London has since lost the star but in April 2012, nahm in Bangkok was included in The World’s 50 Best Restaurants Awards (organised Restaurant Magazine, a UK industry publication). Controversial when it opened in 2010 because many wondered how a foreigner might bring something different to Thai food in Thailand, nahm promises a meal that is “an exercise in balance, with the dynamic interplay of hot and sour, sweet and salty.” Certainly, Thomspon does not shy away from traditional Thai ingredients and flavours, making this an exquisite and authentic Thai dining experience not to be missed.
Our menu came in at around $55CAD for a family style appetizers and mains (9 dishes in total) and individual desserts (not including drinks, tax and tip).
nahm at the Metropolitan Hotel
27 South Sathorn Road Tungmahamek, Sathorn
+662 625 3388
Owner/ instructor, Tam Piyawadi Jantrupon has spent considerable time abroad and is fluent in English. She made use of her cooking skills (learned from her aunts and grandmother then honed in culinary school) in Los Angeles where, as the spouse of a diplomat, she had the opportunity to cook for the Thai community. At Amita, Tam hopes to share the experience of true Thai home cooking in a laid-back environment.Classes also include a welcome herbal drinks, a garden tour, demonstration class, hands-on cooking of 4 dishes which students sit down to enjoy together at the end of the class and a full set of the recipes of the day.Finally, if you’re looking for a way to transport those Thai flavours home with you, I’d highly recommend the Amita Thai Cooking School for a hands-on cooking class. With a choice of three menus, these half-day English language classes include transportation to and from your hotel (including a boat trip from Maharaj Pier along Chao Phraya River via Bangkok Yai canal to the school).
Price: 3000 Thai Baht (approx $95CAD) per person.
Amita Thai Cooking School
http://www.amitathaicooking.com/162/17 Soi Wutthakat 14
Wutthakat Rd., Talad Plu Thon Buri
+662 466 8966* thanks to this article (http://bangkok101.com/2011/08/street-eats-jok-pochana/) on Bangkok 101 for filling in a few gaps about this elusive eatery!
Written by Mardi Michels