A pleasant find recently was Peng Peng Khao Tom in the Banglamphu area, along the river and not far from the Night Market. My friend and I were on the search for good local comfort food—as we so often are—and this popular spot—busy with shoppers and backpackers—perfectly fulfilled our craving.
The small restaurant is open for dinner only and has been serving hungry tourists and locals for half a century. This particular location however is still relatively new, after the owners arrived here around 10 years ago. The alley setting offers a sense of dark mystery, yet the dishes here are legendary.
The operation is family oriented with the third generation currently cooking and running the business. Father and son cook side by side, and I spot a few other helpful chefs in the kitchen behind them. The food is best described as fusion, something between authentic Thai and classic Chinese.
A must-try dish is Jabchai, a stew of mixed vegetables with the addition of a spicy sauce of yam (Thai salad) that jazzes up the taste with lime and chili. My friend and I loved this healthy electric taste. Then, Koong Chae Nampla, the equivalent of shrimp ceviche, gets everyone at the table excited because our first bite tastes like exploding fireworks on the tongue—a memorable mouthful sensation indeed.
Raw shrimps are bathed in an aromatic sauce made from lime, garlic, chili and perfume coriander leaves, the acid in the lime juice cooking the shrimp through. I don’t know if I got lucky because everything went so perfectly well, or unlucky that I had just now found this dish and it had not been part of my life for longer.
Something more basic, but no less delicious was Pla Bai Khanun Tod. This fried jackfruit-leaf fish ( false trevally) allows us to eat every part with the sound effect of crispness when chewing into it. The key is dipping it in the sauce that has fermented beans together with ginger and a tiny chili; elevating the experience to something greater.
Another unusual dish, but certainly no less interesting, was Kaeng Jeud Buoy Moo Sab, a sweet and sour plum soup with minced pork and vegetables. The way it looked didn’t come close to matching the way it tasted, which was sharp, sweet and ultimately refreshing—the first piquant spoonful almost lifting me up from my chair.
The menu is dependent on available ingredients and what can be sourced from the local market, so it’s ever evolving, which adds to the excitement of the visit. What’s important though, is that you come here hungry and I assure you, that you’ll leave happy and fulfilled.
Address: Peng Peng Khao Tom is at 223 Phra Sumen Rd. Open: Daily, 4pm-9pm but closed on every 19th and 20th of each month. Tel: 086 332 9959