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Bangkok's teeming boulevards are notorious for their political riots and traffic jams. Some argue that they're also the world's best al fresco restaurant.
of Ros Dee think so.
Just far enough away from public transportation to escape broader attention, this neighborhood Chinese-Thai diner is consistently delicious, ranking as my favorite restaurant in Bangkok.
The tables and tile floor are spotless. The décor is stripped-down and modest, just like the name, which simply means “good taste.” The only flourish is the plump manager’s burgundy bowtie.
Like the other customers that pack into Ros Dee, I come for the food and I come often. My favorite meal: bpet pad pet (fried, spicy duck), aw suan (fresh, battered oysters) and pak bpoong fai daeng (a green shoot called “morning glory” fried in soy sauce.) But beware: it’s addictive.
Tucked away in the maze of Old Bangkok, this is one of the city’s most exalted restaurants. Many food writers have fawned over Chote Chitr, describing it as a hidden treasure of Thai food perfection.
Really the restaurant is the worst-kept secret in town, with a framed New York Times review on the wall to prove it. But let exclusivity snobs worry about that. Pronounced “CHOAT-jit,” this place deserves the hype.
It’s run by two sisters. The English-speaking, no-nonsense one will likely take your order. Her demeanor suggests she’s aware that her food is amazing, so don’t get cocky and make special requests. I once watched her glare at a patron who requested she cook a dish without sugar.
The must-try dish is mee growp, or crunchy noodles, which offer a perfect balance of tang, spice and delicate crunch. Order that along with the daily special—everything is consistently above par. If you’re feeling brave after dinner, ask if they have any yaa dong, a Thai herbal whisky commonly considered an aphrodisiac.
Chinatown is hard to navigate so Chote Chitr can be tricky to find. Few cab drivers will know the restaurant’s exact lane, so tell him you’re headed to Saow-ching-chaa, a large public square next to Bangkok city hall. From there, get on the adjacent street, Thanon Bamrung Muang (the street signs are in English), and take the first right on Thanon Tanao, then your first left onto Phraeng Phuton. Or just call the restaurant from the cab and ask the driver to get directions from the owner. Don’t worry, she’s used to it.
Laab Bpet Praram Gao
Even Thai urbanites agree that some of the kingdom’s best food comes from Isaan, a drought-prone, poor farming region northeast of Bangkok. Isaan natives flock to the capital city in search of work, bringing their cuisine with them: a bolder strain of Thai food eaten by sopping up dishes with a pinch of glutinous sticky rice.
This restaurant is little more than a concrete slab, covered by an awning and filled with enough folding tables to seat 100 customers. Its name is one of Isaan’s signature dishes: laab bpet, a minced duck dish spiced with cilantro, mint, chilies and lime. Non-Thai speakers should practice saying “LAHB-bpet” in the cab, as there’s no English menu and few English-speaking waiters.
The surrounding neighborhood is devoted to this one dish, with at least three other restaurants with laab bpet in their title. If you crave minced duck like I do, make a night of it and visit all of them.
It’s spicy stuff, so you’ll want something cold to tame the sting. Get acquainted with the “beer girls,” cheerful 20-somethings employed by outdoor food halls to sell beer. Pay attention to the logo on their uniforms. They’re sponsored by regional