Bangkok is one of my all-time favourite city holiday destinations. Thai food's amazing (so much so that I can eat it everyday...there's a reason why Thai food is found everywhere in the world), the people are warm and friendly, the shopping's addictive (coz it's so cheap!) and the Thai capital is just a hop and a skip away, barely 2 hours from Singapore.
Admittedly, the traffic is horrendous (you're in for a shock if you think Singapore drivers are bad. Thai drivers don't seem to use their signal lights and traffic is constantly bumper-to-bumper, but Thais are a lot more polite than Singaporeans...you'll hardly hear the Thais using their horns here) and the city's quite polluted (it looks like they're hit by the haze all the time and clear skies are a rarity), but it really adds flavour to the vibrant city.
Hotels and flights abound aplenty so you can get in anytime the travel bug bites, and accommodations at their 5-star hotels are ridiculously cheap. Well, cheaper than Singapore's ones at least.
We headed to Somboon Seafood, our first food stop right after landing. This venerable seafood restaurant, with 5 branches littered around Bangkok, is a culinary institution in itself. Any foodie worth his salt will know that this is THE PLACE to go to. Also, you absolutely must try the curry crabs here.
We started off with the ubiquitous Thai spicy sour soup, the Tom Yum Goong (220 Baht), served and kept steaming hot in a charcoal steamboat pot. This was spicy, heady and potent. Fresh bouncy prawns, together with straw mushrooms, were aplenty in the rich spicy broth. I've noticed that Thai prawns are amazingly sweet, large and bouncy. Even if you were to go to the cheapest, most dingy-looking roadside stall in Thailand, the prawns will always be fresh and sweet. I've never eaten a prawn that was powdery and/or stale in Thailand. The consistently fresh quality of their prawns is exclusive to this crustacean though. I can't quite guarantee the always-fresh quality of the other seafood like fish, squid or crabs throughout Thailand.
To break the spice-laden "monotony" of the other dishes, we ordered the non-spicy Stir Fried Mixed Vegetable (100 Baht), with baby corn, carrots, snow peas, cabbage, kailan and mushrooms, crunchy, delicate and light, a nice balance to the other spicy dishes.
The Stir Fried Pork with Basil Leaves and Chilli (100 Baht) was distinctively peppery and aromatic. Soft tender minced pork was sauteed lightly with oyster sauce and chili for some heat.So simple, so delicious.
Ahh, the piece de resistence, you'll see this on EVERY table. The Fried Curry Crabs (400 Baht for medium) is a signature dish that's garnered this Thai-Chinese restaurant numerous local and international dining awards. The gravy is an scrumptious medley of scrambled eggs, chilli oil and spring onions. If not for the fact that we're on a strict diet for the wedding, we'd have ordered lots of plain rice to pair with and wiped up the gravy. Oh, one thing about Thai crabs, they are a lot smaller than the Sri Lankan ones that we're used to. This was their medium sized crabs, which corresponds to the size of a teeny tiny baby Sri Lankan crab (for point of reference, this was so small that there was no point eating the legs). Somboon does have "Jumbo" sized crabs though, and you'll do well to order those instead, it's bigger, meatier and a lot more satisfying with the gravy.
The Fried Grouper (300 Baht), fresh out of the water tank, was slathered in a garlicky sweet chilli sauce and topped with sprinkles of fried curry leaves and sliced chillis.
895/6-21 Soi Chula 8
Open daily from 4pm to 11.30pm