Piang Kee is both the most noteworthy and quirkiest restaurant I’ve come across in Bangkok in a long while. For starters, the Chinatown-based restaurant specialises in Hakka Chinese dishes, a relative rarity here in Bangkok. The restaurant itself is unabashedly old-school, and the lovely middle-aged couple who have run the place for the last few decades are still incredibly enthusiastic about what they do. And to round it off, Piang Kee is both rather difficult to find and maintains inconvenient opening times, at least for those who would like to visit for dinner.
I had heard about the restaurant on a Thai television programme, and with a bit of help, was eventually able to track it down. The photos below constitute two separate visits to Piang Kee, the first with the clever food researcher who was kind enough to find the restaurant for me, and the second with Bo and Dylan of Bangkok buzz restaurant Bo.lan, and David and P’Tong from London’s Michelin-starred Nahm:
On both visits we ordered the dishes shown at the top of this post, stuffed tofu served in a broth seasoned with khao maak, fermented rice, and ‘drunken’ chicken. The former is my favourite dish, mostly because of the broth, which is made salty and red from the addition of the fermented rice, an unusual ingredient used in several dishes here. The chicken is tender and silky and made fragrant and slightly tart by the addition of the rice wine.
Another house specialty is deep-fried stuffed tofu skins:
These are deliciously crispy, and like many dishes here, are filled with a mixture of minced pork and dried squid that has been dry roasted and minced. They’re served, also like just about everything here, with a specific dipping sauce, in this case a syrupy plum sauce.
The house dipping sauce, on the other hand:
is a simple mixture of fresh chilies and salt that is left to ferment overnight. It’s amazing stuff that’s pleasantly spicy and sour, and the owners suggest it as a dipping sauce to the tofu and chicken dishes above.
Another dish associated with the restaurant is dumplings made from daikon and carrot and supplemented with dried shrimp:
The shrimp provide the dish with a briny taste and the thick soy sauce dip provides a sweet counterpoint, although in general I found the dumplings to be a bit gloopy and heavy.
A must-order dish is the pork belly served over preserved greens:
The meat has a subtle smokiness and is fall-apart tender, and I really enjoyed the slightly crispy re-hydrated spinach.
On one visit there was a dish of sliced pork belly:
a specific type of pork belly, according to the owner, and served chilled over bean sprouts with a tart/spicy dressing.
One of my favourite dishes at Piang Kee is goat braised in red sauce:
extremely meaty and rich, with a subtle herbal flavour. As is the case elsewhere in Chinatown, the dish is served with a thin dipping sauce based around dried galangal.
The couple do their own perfectly-seasoned fishballs, made from plaa kray, a type of freshwater fish:
and a very unusual stir-fry of lettuce and the ubiquitous khao maak:
Somebody ordered kaeng jeut, normally a predominately salty broth:
but in this case both salty, from pork and dried squid dumplings, and aggressively tart, from the used of dried plum.
And fermented rice was employed yet again in this stir-fry of thin rice noodles and pork:
A dish that was rather bland on its own, but wonderful when taken with a bit of the wonderful chili sauce.
The restaurant normally closes at 6pm, but if you want to have a slightly later dinner and can speak Thai (or Hakka), call ahead and I imagine you’ll find that they’re normally willing to accommodate.
Trok Wat Kuson Samakhon (off Th Ratchawong, across from Grand China Princess Hotel)
02 221 6024, 086 832 8849
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