There are lots of places in Bangkok serving seafood, but many of them are directed at foreign tourists, and as such tend to serve overpriced, bland food. E. Pochana, a longstanding seafood restaurant in central Bangkok, is both fairly-priced and serves delicious, full-flavoured dishes. But it's an old-school restaurant in the Chinese/Thai school, which means there are a few caveats.
I should make it clear that E. Pochana isn't overtly unattractive or uncomfortable, but other than a lone Chinese calendar stuck on one wall, there's been absolutely no effort made towards interior design. The tables and chairs are almost certainly original and bear the battle scars of decades of use. The lighting is both fluorescent and abundant. The owner is perched, rather intimidatingly, behind a throne-like desk piled with office supplies and documents. E. Pochana's posted closing time is 10pm, but you're going to receive some unpleasant stares from the staff (not to mention a significantly reduced menu) if you're eating there any later than 8.30pm. In a way, these quirks do provide E. Pochana with a sort of atmosphere, but not necessarily one that all diners are on board with.
But if you can manage to get past these, you're in for some excellent food -- probably the best of its kind that I've encountered in Bangkok.
As this is basically Chinese food (or, at least, Chinese food as perceived through a Thai lens), the flavours here are predominately rich and salty, rather than tart or spicy. One of the best examples of this is E. Pochana's pu phat phong karii, crab fried with curry powder and egg. The crabs are huge and fat, and I suspect they use duck egg yolks (not to mention a lot of oil) in this dish, as I can't recall having encountered a richer, more satisfying version. Other recommendable dishes include just about anything grilled -- in particular the fish and prawns -- the pork satay; kung op wun sen, shrimp cooked in a lidded pot with glass noodles; and the flash-fried vegetable dishes. The only dish I wasn't crazy about on my most recent visit was the fish head hotpot; the dish lacked the tartness usually associated with a broth that's been seasoned with salted plum.
E. Pochana Soi Chula 15, Bangkok 02 215 4220 10am-10pm
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