Today I had lunch with the Lonely Planet's Man in Japan, Chris Rowthorn. Chris trusts me enough to let me choose where we eat lunch, which, if you ask me, is the highest level of trust. Around noontime we found ourselves near the venerable Nang Loeng Market, and I decided to stop in at Ratana, a curry restaurant I had seen, but had yet to try. Like many of the places in the area, Ratana is simple, but oozes heaps of old-school Bangkok charm. The line of people out front is a sure-fire sign of good eats anywhere in Thailand. And as illustrated above, the amazing selection of curries, soups and fried dishes is a great introduction to Bangkok-style Thai cooking.
We began with green curry with beef:
which was more like a stir-fry than the soupy curry you'll find in most places. It was also among the tastiest green curries I've ever sampled, the curry paste sporting a healthy dose of peppercorns. I was curious about this somewhat unusual flavour and asked the cook, who told me that the shop makes all of its own curry pastes, something quite uncommon nowadays.
This was followed by a Chinese-style stir-fry of veggies and shrimp:
a pretty common dish at Bangkok curry shops of this ilk, and a decent source of the green.
More interesting (but far less photogenic) was a bowl of tom yam with pork leg:
Unlike most tom yam, which are generally seafood-based and clear in broth, this one was bordering on stew like, but still tasted light thanks to the copious lime juice. The soup supported several chunks of hearty pork leg, including bone, skin, and even, if I remember correctly, a bit of meat. A truly wonderful dish.
And finally Chris was curious to try khao khluk kapi:
the dish of rice cooked in shrimp paste and served with a variety of toppings. Ratana's version was very, very good, and also unusual in that they topped the dish with an herb called cha om, the long green leaves seen in the pic, which have a slightly pungent flavour.
Ratana Curry Shop
Nang Loeng Market
Nakhorn Sawan Road
02 281 0237