Every January for the last four years, I've spent the month up in the northern Thai province of Mae Hong Son. Unfortunately, this year, I've just had too much work and was forced to camp out here in Bangkok. As a result, I'm really missing northern Thai food. That's why I was excited when I stumbled upon a review of Gedhawa, a previously unknown-to-me northern Thai restaurant, in local listings mag BK.
Gedhawa is located off Th Sukhumvit, sports a somewhat cheesy Lanna-style interior and appears to be frequented almost exclusively by Japanese customers -- all factors that don't exactly work in the restaurant's favour. The menu spans just about all of Thailand, but there's an expansive northern Thai section, and this is what I was interested in.
On my first visit, I ate, starting at the left of the image above, a soup of phak waan (ผักหวาน; a type of vegetable) with dried fish and tomatoes, a somewhat obscure but delicious northern Thai dish; nam phrik ong (น้ำพริกอ่อง), the famous northern-style dip of ground pork and tomatoes; naem (แหนม; fermented pork sausage) wrapped in banana leaf with egg and pickled garlic and grilled; and the famous northern-style fried laap.
The flavours were mostly there: the soup had the smokey flavour of dried fish, the dip was rich and meaty, and the laap had more than just a whiff of makhwaen (a unique dried spice used in northern-style laap). But ultimately, the meal reminded me of most other regional Thai meals I've had in Bangkok: the dishes looked the way they should, but the food lacked nuance and soul. Worse than that, they got a couple things wrong at Gedhawa: nam phrik ong is usually served with fresh, not par-boiled veggies, and real northern-style laap contains blood and offal.
On a second visit, I was keen to try their northern Thai noodle dishes. A truly good version of khao soi (ข้าวซอย; pictured at the top of this post), the famous curry noodle dish, is even hard to find up in northern Thailand, and Gedhawa's version was no exception. The broth was thin and bland and tasted mostly of curry powder. Slightly better was their version of khanom jeen nam ngiaw (ขนมจีนน้ำเงี้ยว):
a rich pork and tomato broth served over fresh rice noodles.
Consider Gedhawa if you're looking for a crash course in northern Thai dining, but look elsewhere if you're already familiar with the food and, like me, are craving something authentic.
Gedhawa 24 Soi 35, Th Sukhumvit Bangkok 02 662 0501 11am-2pm & 5-11pm Mon-Sat
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