Ruam Tai

A Closed sign in front of Dao Tai, Thonburi It's the story of my life. Virtually every time I make specific plans to visit a specific restaurant in Bangkok, it's closed. It's happened tens of times, and I'm surprised I haven't mentioned it here before. And yes, it happened again today when I planned to take visiting Thai food fans Nick Malgieri and David Thompson to Dao Tai, a southern Thai restaurant in Thonburi.

Suppressing the urge to throw my camera at the retractable steel wall that separated me from delicious southern Thai food, I remained calm and reminded myself that there are two seemingly identical restaurants across the street:

Ruam Tai, a southern Thai restaurant in Thonburi

One of which was closed (of course), leaving us with little choice: Ruam Tai. Fortunately the bundle of sator, also known as stink beans, hanging at the display case was an encouraging sign of southern authenticity:

Southern Thai dishes at Ruam Tai, a restaurant in Thonburi

The selection was also encouraging, so we ordered a huge spread of dishes:

Southern Thai dishes at Ruam Tai, a restaurant in Thonburi

including a spicy boar stir-fry, the famous southern Thai fish kidney curry, kaeng tai plaa, a soup of fresh turmeric and chicken, a very nice yellow curry and a stir-fry of stink beans.

I particularly liked the slightly sweet soup of coconut milk, palm hearts, shrimp, the previously-mentioned stink beans and a southern Thai leaf called liang:

Southern Thai dishes at Ruam Tai, a restaurant in Thonburi

David liked the dish in the foreground, a mixture of cockles and bai chaphlu, wild tea or betel leaves in a mild coconut milk curry:

Southern Thai dishes at Ruam Tai, a restaurant in Thonburi

And I thought Nick did quite well in general, considering the famous heat of authentic southern Thai food. I thought the dishes weren't quite as refined and the flavours not as expertly balanced as those of Dao Tai, but everything was still authentic and tasty.

In the end my initial disappointment was almost entirely forgotten when we made our way into the Thai sweets shop directly next door (Phensri, 02 411 0839), where the very kind owner plied us with jasmine-scented Thai sweets, answered our ridiculous questions, and eventually took us into her kitchen where she let us see where she mixed, steamed and smoked her mor kaeng and other desserts.

Ruam Tai 375/4 Thanon Phran Nok, Thonburi 02 412 7347 7am-9pm

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