The endless food adventure that is Bangkok contains so many hidden gems in so many different areas. Often the convenience of taking the BTS Skytrain leads me to discover new things, yet at the same time, it occasionally whisks me right past other discoveries.
Case in point is the BTS stop just after the Siam interchange station—BTS Ratchathewi. It’s a part of town I have rarely explored in the past, but it has become a fun and meaningful area to me now because of the local food stands that are mostly catering to the office people who work, and transit, around this area.
Jumping off at this station, I hop on a motorcycle taxi for a short glide into Soi Phaya Nak. This connecting soi joins with other alleys that all lead to Petchaburi Soi 10. Amusingly, I don’t even need to give directions on how to get to my destination, Ar-Simp Padthai, as the mortorcycle taxi guys all know so well where I should hop off after a quick ride.
The decades-old, original shophouse that Ar-Simp Padthai now operates in was once the shop of the restaurateur’s Thailand-Chinese grandfather, where he sold linoleum mats and other miscellaneous kitchen items in the days of yore. After he passed away, their grandmother started to cook the family’s Padthai recipe, and proudly turned the kitchen shop into a little restaurant.
Now P’Joy (2nd generation) and her son (3rd generation), are working side-by-side on mastering their Padthai and other dishes.
P’Joy is now orchestrating the kitchen, while her son—who has loved cooking and helping her since he was a child—cooks most of the actual dishes. She says his cooking skills match well with their family’s recipe, and her own standards. Hearing this, he briefly looks up from his wok then turns his focus back to the noodles.
I grab a seat next to a big group of office workers and order away in one go before the restaurant gets crowded. Kouytiew Khua Kai (fried flat noodle with chicken and egg, topped with crispy dough), khanom Pakkad (fried shredded turnip) and Padthai with shrimp.
Everything arrives at the same time. It’s so exciting to smell the variety of dishes all at once! The Padthai doesn’t need any additional seasoning at all; it tastes amazing from the first bite, without even the traditional squeeze of lime. The noodles are wonderfully chewy, sticky and full of taste. Adding texture are little pieces of tofu, peanuts, and crispy beansprouts, and all the flavours of the various ingredients dance in harmony thanks to the family’s sauce recipe that includes tamarind, and palm sugar that is made from coconut nectar. I have them all in one bite with the shrimp that I slice into small pieces from the generous serving size.
The Kouytiew Khua Kai is also lovely. I like it with both chicken and Pla Meuk Krob (dried cuttlefish soaked in baking soda), which complement the delectable fried noodles and sauce. Meanwhile, the Khanom Pakkad requires a bit of a special palate to understand and appreciate. Basically, it’s a turnip pancake that’s fried in a hot wok with dark sauce. I like the little burnt and crispy texture on the outside, with a soft (birthday) cake-like texture on the inside. Seasoning it with chili vinegar and dry chili gives an extra flavour boost.
The other highlight I would recommend is their mango sticky rice. P’Joy is proud of her Kati—real creamy coconut milk (not canned), lovingly spread on top. Her sticky rice is so flavourful too; creamy and lightly sweet, just like the mangoes that she chooses to slice and lay on top.
Address: Ar-Simp Padthai can be accessed two ways: via Soi Phayanak from the Ratchathewi BTS Station stop; or via Petchaburi Soi 10. Open daily from 11am till 10:30pm. Tel: 02 215 2819