A blog about food in Thailand
and elsewhere.

Kai Tong

Posted date:  October 3, 2006

Isaan (northeast Thai) food is something you can’t avoid here in Bangkok. I reckon there’s more som tam, kai yaang and sticky rice here than in the whole of northeast Thailand. A lot of it tends to be pretty hardcore streetfood; think tripe and liver hanging from rusty hooks, dripping blood on shredded papaya, the whole lot coated with a delicate but fragrant film of auto exhaust. Alternatively there’s lots of isaan mall food; chain restaurants serving well-presented and generally clean isaan food, but made for Bangkok tongues (read: sweet). For the most part, there’s not a whole lot of the well-prepared, authentic, sanitary in-between. Luckily I recently came across a place that comes pretty close. Kai Tong (“rooster”), located on Soi Sena 1, is an old-school sitdown restaurant complete with upholstered booths and uniformed wait staff. Definately not the norm for an isaan place.

We started with the restaurant’s specialty, kai yaang, grilled chicken:


And a mighty good bird it was. I think they claim it is kai baan, free-range chicken, but it actually had a bit too much meat on the bone for my taste (chicken meat is virtually tasteless–it’s the fat and skin that tastes good. Believe me.). The chicken comes with a sweet syrup, chili and plum-based dip, and an absolutely delicious jaew, salty/spicy/sour dip made from dried chilies and tamarind pulp.

Following this was som tam pu plaa raa, Lao/isaan-style papaya salad with salted rice field crabs and a thick form of fish sauce:


Almost perfect. If they hadn’t beaten the life out of the papaya with the mortar and pestle it would have been perfect. One thing, okay, two things I like about the som tam here is that they’re not afraid to add garlic, a lot of garlic, and it’s exceedingly sour.

And finally we had tom saeb, an issan-style sour soup:


We’re not big meat eaters, so we asked for mushrooms instead. Not bad, but a little too sweet. Do like the presentation though.

The only bad thing I could say about the restaurant is that the isaan menu isn’t very expansive. They have the 10 or so favorites that you can find pretty much anywhere. They do do them quite well though!

Kai Tong is located on Soi Sena 1, about 2 km from the intersection with Phaholyothin.

6 Comments for Kai Tong

My mom, aunts and their friends, who are in their 60’s and 70’s, like to chat about foods they ate as kids growing up in Thailand. They all complain about how the food there (maybe Bangkok specifically?) is so sweet everywhere you go. Apparently it wasn’t like that when they were growing up.

The trend towards sweetness is definitely represented in Thai restaurants here in the U.S., which is probably why Thai food is so popular among my sweet-tooth friends.

The Tom Saeb picture looks soooo good. I’m drooling here.

Quel magnifiaque blog, la vrais cuisine thai!!

jal: They’re right! Much of the food here is waaay to sweet for my taste. But BKK people seem to like it! I think I’ve only eaten Thai at a restaurant in the US once! So I have no idea what goes on there. I’d think they wouldn’t do sweet though, as most foreigners don’t seem to like it.

yai: It looks good, but wasn’t the best dish of the day!

lory: De rien!

a foodie at heart, i feel your blog is wonderful. look forward to visiting many of the places you write about, especially the aw to kor market. thank you very much

Have you tried Sara-Jane’s, and would you classify it as “Isaan mall food”? I ate there several years ago, really enjoyed it, and don’t remember it being particularly sweet (though they do have things like “New York cheesecake” on the menu).

Wanna say something?