Been meaning to do this one for ages. Baan Chok Man is just about the closest restaurant to my house here in northern Bangkok. Coincidentally enough, it also happens to be one of my favourite restaurants in Bangkok. Before you get too excited, let me make it clear that the food at Baan Chok Man is not particularly exciting. Nor is it innovative or clever. It's simply good, solid, consistent Thai grub. Very consistent in fact. I've been eating here for more than five years, and throughout that time the dishes are churned out exactly the same each time. I'm starting to think they might have robot in the kitchen or something. This is the first place I take my friends and relatives when they visit Thailand, and they invariably love it.
Baan Chok Man is a garden restaurant:
and part of the pleasure here lies in sitting under the trees on a cool evening. Unfortunately we arrived a bit early and to avoid the laser-like rays of sun, were forced to sit indoors. Our first dish was tom khrong plaa krob (pictured above). This is more or less a thicker, spicier tom yam. Plaa krob means crispy fish, and refers to the crunchy dried fish that serves as the protein in this dish.
This was followed by sator phat kung, "stinkbeans" fried with shrimp:
Somewhat unusually here they mince the shrimp, which actually makes it easier to eat, although slightly less impressive looking.
This was followed by yam kaan kaew, a "salad" of crispy kai lan stalks:
The kai lan is mixed with minced shrimp, pork and squid that have been carefully blended with sliced shallots, chilies, fish sauce, lime juice and sugar--a combination that finds its way into many of the restaurant's dishes.
However my favourite dish, and something we have to order every freaking time we eat here, is plaa samlee op samunphrai, "black banded trevally (a kind of fish--trust me here; I saw the English name at Tesco's) baked with herbs":
Contrary to the name, there's not a lot of baking (at least in the Western sense) going on here. Honestly, I always wondered how this dish was made, and I think I finally figured it out tonight. First, they take a medium-sized black banded trevally and deep-fry it. While this is bubbling away, they do a quick stir fry that includes minced pork, thinly sliced lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves, garlic, green peppercorns and chilies (the "herbs" in the name of the dish). The fish and stir fry ingredients are combined on a sheet of foil, topped with crispy fried shallots and fresh kraphrao (a kind of Thai basil), wrapped up and "baked" (most probably grilled) until steaming inside. Pure genius.
If you're ever in the Kaset area of northern Bangkok, do stop by.
Baan Chok Man
74/29 Soi Sena 1
02 578 0033