I had been entertaining big plans to go back to Baan Chan, a promising restaurant serving the food of Chanthaburi province that I have previously mentioned in this very forum. Well, this morning I finally found the time to go there, only to arrive and find that they're closed on Sundays... In a fit of desparate hunger, we scrambled to what was virtually the nearest restaurant, an outdoor joint called Ram-Saep. Ram is the northern Thai dialect word for delicious, and saep the isaan or northeastern equivalent (central Thais say aroy), so called because this restaurant serves both northern and northeastern Thai food.

This being northern Thai, I couldn't resist ordering laap khua:


Regular readers might have noticed that I'm pretty obsessive about my laap khua. Ram-Saep's was good effort, with more or less the requisite flavours and textures, but nothing compared to the work of a laap khua master like the good people at Laap Khom Huay Puu (scroll down a bit).

Next was nam phrik nam puu:


This is a 'dip' made from the small black crabs that are found in the rice fields of SE Asia. The crabs are crushed and boiled down into a thick black sludge that more or less tastes like you imagine boiled crab sludge would. Bitter is the main flavour here, and if you're not a fan of this taste you probably won't be writing the people at home abou the nam phrik naam puu. The dip was served with sides of cripy veggies and deep-fried pork for dipping.

There was jor phak kaat, a soup of a leafy green veggie popular in northern Thailand:


This was my personal favorite dish of the day. The broth was sour with healthy chunks of garlic and the vegetable was just undercooked and pleasantly crunchy.

Moving to issan food, we ordered kai yaang, grilled chicken:


and a mighty good one at that. The dish featured a reasonably scrawny chicken (this is a good thing) with fatty skin that was rubbed with crushed garlic, coriander roots and black pepper, rendering the dipping sauce unecessary. Delish.

And finally, a som tam, green papaya salad:


which was served in a cute mini mortar. This dish was mediocre, being a bit too sweet for my taste, and bordering on the souplike.

Ram-Saep is of the outdoor 'garden' restaurant variety, which means rustic bamboo furniture, loud live music and stray dogs begging for your scraps. This sort of atmosphere is best appreciated at night, when it's cooler and you have some time to throw down a few cold beers with your meal.

02 909 2850