Wander a little way beyond Wat Pho and the walls of the Grand Palace and you come to come to an area around the Sam Phraeng-Tanao crossroads. Quiet, quaint and charming, this is a part of Bangkok it is easy to fall in love with. It has a sense of community, a village-like atmosphere made all the more special by the people who live there.
Locals consider the area along Tanao Road a food heaven and there are plenty of places to enjoy wonderful home-style cooking, various kinds of noodles, and traditional desserts and home-made soya drinks.
One of the best is Seri, a small restaurant tucked away in the wonderfully secluded courtyard of Phraeng Phuthorn. It is a friendly neighborhood restaurant with a big menu and most of the regular patrons – many of them local families – come because of the simple yet excellent home-style food on offer.
Seri’s owner-chef started out as a sous chef at Poj Sapakar restaurant, a stone’s throw away on Tanao Road. And now Seri is one of the few outlets left in the city keeping the culinary style of the famous old restaurant (known locally as ‘Cook Somdej’) alive.
Every time I visit Seri I never failed to order tom yum koong nam sai (spicy herb-packed clear shrimp soup). The refreshing scent and piquant flavours of the dish transport me back to my grandmother’s kitchen, where the whole family would sit on the wooden floor around the food deck. The simple articulation of tastes in this classic soup come from the fresh ingredients: lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, onion and galangal.
I tend to get stuck on several dishes at Seri because they are so good. Try crispy noodles or mee krob: I can’t say that it’s the best in town but again, it has the classic, evocative tastes of home cooking. I just love to send a piece of the accompanying pickled garlic and crunchy mee krob down in one bite.
The other sensation here for me is nam pla wan, a sweet fish sauce dip. Normally we eat nam plan wan with grilled catfish and neem flowers in the cool season. At Seri, attention to detail elevates the sauce. It has a wonderful aroma of caramel derived from the coconut palm sugar. As they finish stirring during the sauce’s preparation, they add a drop of coconut milk to it, giving the finished product a sweet and wild dimension.
Address: Seri Restaurant is located on the right side of Phraeng Phuthorn courtyard off Thanao Road. Open Mon-Sat from 10.30am-9pm / Sun from 5pm-9pm.