A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Crokmai Thai Lao

Posted date:  May 11, 2008

Lao-style papaya salad, Crokmai Thai Lao

Yet another restaurant located way out in the wasteland of northern Bangkok, but after four recent visits, I reckon it’s worth the drive. For starters, Crokmai Thai Lao has one of the most extensive menus of any isaan/Lao restaurant I’ve been to in Thailand. It has a full page dedicated to insects:

The insect menu at Crokmai Thai Lao

Another page of the menu is entirely dedicated to dishes using ant eggs. Crokmai Thai Lao must also be among the few isaan/Lao restaurants anywhere with a website: www.crokmaithailao.com.  Check it out; you can even see the entire menu, including many photos, scanned into the page, and of course the obligatory page of celebrities who’ve visited the restaurant. I’ve been told the guy in the red hat with the microphone always wears red hats. Very heady stuff. Rest assured though, it’s not all fancy technology  and famous people–this place does some pretty good food.

Crokmai means ‘wooden mortar’, the tool used to make som tam, so naturally there was a dish of the famous papaya salad (pictured above), made here Lao-style with plaa raa and salted crabs.  Sour and extremely spicy. There was kaeng poerh (I really have no idea how to transliterate this last word–it sounds a lot like someone spitting bad soup out):

Kaeng poerh, Crokmai Thai Lao

This soup combines a dark broth (the result, I believe, of the addition of bai yaanaang, a leaf), thin slices of crispy bamboo, mushrooms, pumpkin and my favourite bit, a pungent herb called cha om (the green leaves seen above). I’ve had this dish at restaurants and even at peoples’ homes, and reckon this bowl is among the tastiest and most balanced I’ve had.

Another great dish was mok nor mai:

Mok nor mai, steamed bamboo and pork, Crokmai Thai Lao

bamboo stuffed (or combined?) with ground pork and a very coconutty curry paste mixture, wrapped in a banana leaf and steamed.  Almost creamy in texture, and despite the disparate ingredients, a wonderful combination.

Naam phrik plaa raa:

Naam phrik plaa raa, a 'dip' of fish, Crokmai Thai Lao

Good, but not outstanding. The naam phrik, a ‘dip’ of Lao-style fish sauce was tasty, but watery. I liked the combination of veggies  though, including steamed pumpkin and some edible flowers.

And every time I eat here I have to order plaa som thot:

Plaa som thot, deep-fried sour fish, Crokmai Thai Lao

Freshwater fish that has been fermented via some rice and deep-fried.  Sour, cripsy and meaty.

I recommend a visit, be it physically or virtually.

Crokmai Thai Lao (Google Maps link)
6/257 Muu 1
Soi Ladplakhao 24 (off Kaset-Navamin Highway)
02 570 6234

4 Comments for Crokmai Thai Lao

hey, that looks yummy! I’m finally coming home at the end of the month and am hanging out for “real” thai food…hope we can catch up and go somewhere as yummy as this

Yes, let’s go when you come back–I think you guys would like it.

Great review, Austin. Even those bugs look sort of tasty!

I always thought that the black color of gaeng poehr came from the addition of “nam poo” (pickled crab juice) than from bai yaanang. I could be wrong, though.

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