You know how there’s always a restaurant that you have to go everytime you revisit the same cities? Its different for everyone. For me in Shanghai, it’d be Jia Jia Tang Bao and / or Xiao Yang Sheng Jian. In LA, it’s In-N-Out Burger or Pink’s Hotdogs. In Bangkok, it’s definitely Erawan Tea Room.
Why? Because they serve hotel-quality Thai food, in a hotel-quality environment, with hotel-quality service, but at Tsui Wah prices (per dish). Oh, all those mentions of “hotel” – that’s because the restaurant is managed by Erawan Grand Hyatt.
The bill for 4 grown men, ~10 dish plus drinks came out to be about 3,300 Bhat (or US$25 per head) and we were stuffed. Sure, you can find decent Thai food for cheaper prices and 800 Baht per head isn’t exactly cheap in Bee Kay Kay, but everything is relative and let’s put it into perspective – sometimes you just want a nice, quiet and easy meal away from the Bangkok heat and pollution, but you don’t want to get shafted by going to restaurants like Blue Elephant.
(By the way, if you really want upscale Thai cuisine in Bangkok, go to Naj. Prices are a little cheaper than Blue Elephant, but at least locals go there, and that alone speaks volume. Blue Elephant’s for clueless tourists too lazy to do a bit of research and too stuck-up to interrogate their hotel concierge. Sorry!)
Back to Erawan Tea Room.
The setting is like a nice cozy living room with comfortable (large) chairs and sofa, dimmed but not dim lightings, wooden blinds … the ambiance is just really .chill. (for a lack of a better description). There’s a touch of homeliness to the restaurant as well, as they have giant shelves surrounding the entrance where you can purchase fresh cakes, biscuits, scones, jam, tea, Thai snacks and treats made by the restaurant and even Erawan Tea Room tableware (i.e. plates, bowls and utensils). While I don’t know anyone’s who’s bought any tableware from them, I just like the idea that you can take a piece of the restaurant with you back home – perhaps, an explanation of why I like going back so much; its just like home!
That same balance you find in its decor and ambiance transcends, quite easily it feels, to its extensive menu and dishes. I should probably also add that for most dishes on the menu, you can either choose “S” for small portions or “L” for large portion and the prices are neatly laid out. (Yeeees yes, its not rocket science to offer 2 portions, but most restaurants don’t lay the information out quite so clearly and when you have to ask about it, and inevitably when you have to ask about the prices, its becomes that much more tedious … and not cool).
The dishes here are terrific. While I can’t quite say it was the best I’ve ever had, its definitely up there in to top 5. (I think I’ve had some pretty decent Thai food in Shanghai. Lan Na Thai, Coconut Paradise, Simply Thai and Thai Gallery were all pretty good. OMG, Banana Leaf (Hong Kong Plaza) is really really bad, don’t go!)
A real properly-made lime soda makes my day.
Tom Yum Kung – definitely one of my favorite soup other than lobster bisque. This one’s got a good balance between hot and sour (actually I didn’t find it spicy at all, my a friend of mine couldn’t handle it so I had his as well) and was quite garlicky and lemongrassy. As an added bonus, there was a generous portion of fresh river shrimp (I counted 8). In most other places, they’ll give you about 4?
The green mango salad was pretty spicy, but the sourness to the dish is definitely an appetizer in the full sense of the word. The fish cake is … well, its a fish cake. I don’t think they vary that much between restaurants … I’ve never had extremely good or bad fish cakes before. (Prawn / shrimps cakes different).
The Phad Thai at Erawan Tea Room is probably one of my favorite. Its leaning a little towards the sweeter side,but the mix of a whole lot of other flavours help counter that sweetness quite effectively. Its got a bit of fresh bean sprouts, dried shrimps, leeks, egg, onions, garlic, peanut all mixed with the noodle, which was so fresh it was chewy (but not the rubbery kind of chewy). The thin layer of egg wrap helps contain the heat and as you break it open, all the said flavours oozes out … then everybody fights their way to get first dibs.
(See red curry below)
I remember this Kailan dish to be slightly better last time I visited the restaurant. It wasn’t bad, but I guess the veggies getting a little “old” and so it wasn’t as fresh as I remembered. Nonetheless, a good dish.
We asked for mild for both the green and red curry so neither of the curries were that spicy. Regardless, they just go so well with Thai rice. Both the chicken and the duck was cooked well enough so that it wasn’t dry at all.
The cook deboned the fish so all that was left was fresh sea bass that we can scope with our spoon and get a bit of the chili and lime sauce. Great dish for lazy people like me. The fish was pretty fresh too and my friend who doesn’t normally eat fish (the same dude who gave me his Tom Yum Kung) liked it alot. And for 360 Baht, this fish was a pretty good deal.
I love this place. Need I say more?
(SEVEN) – inside joke.
Siu Yeh Rating: 9.5/10
Note: Photos taken with BlackBerry Curve 8900
Erawan Tea Room
494 Ploenchit Road
Tel: +662 250 7777
Website: www dot erawanbangkok dot com/tearoom.php
Filed under: Asia, Thailand | Tagged: Banana Leaf (Hong Kong Plaza), Bangkok, BKK, Blue Elephant, Coconut Paradise, Erawan, Erawan Tea Room, Grand Hyatt, Guide, In-N-Out Burger, Lan Na Thai, Lanna Thai, Naj, Naj Exquisite Thai Cuisine, Oam Thong Royal, Pink's Hotdogs, Restaurant Guide, Restaurant Review, Simply Thai, Thai Cuisine, Thai Gallery, Thailand, Travel, Tsui Wah Restaurant | 2 Comments »