I've eaten at many, if not most of the upscale Thai restaurants in Bangkok, and have rarely, if ever, had a good meal. Nothing I ate at these restaurants was necessarily bad--no hairs were found, no surly service, nothing rotten--but rather, the food left no impression whatsoever. The general phenomenon seems to be that the more you pay for Thai food, the less flavourful it is, and the more predictable the menu tends to be.
Exploring Banglamphu with friends on a recent Sunday, it didn't take us very long to realize that on Sunday, in Banglamphu, absolutely nothing is open. Luckily, a few days previously, I was reminded of an upscale Thai restaurant that I've always suspected might be different from the rest, so we made it up Th Dinso to Sorndaeng.
A sign out front claims that Sorndaeng has been around since 1957. A glance into the dining room shows that very little appears to have changed in 51 years: the service staff dress like soldiers, there are doilys and frumpy furniture, live lounge music (appropriately, a mild version of 'Sukiyaki' was sung at one point), and of course that most telling sign of old-school Thai elitism, a table dominated by several big-haired, silk-wearing Thai-Chinese women:
A had been eating here since she was young, and suggested we order krathong thong:
'golden baskets' with a sweet/savoury filling.
I ordered lon kapi, a savoury 'dip' served with fresh vegetables and herbs:
and yam som oh, pomelo salad:
The former was a very good take on a dish that's somewhat hard to find, and the latter was simple but delicious, incorporating no more than five ingredients including deep-fried cashews, and if I remember correctly, roasted coconut.
A ordered fish maw fried with egg and bean sprouts:
a dish I didn't think I would like, but which was actually very nice, deliciously eggy and smokey, a lot like or suan.
P ordered mee krop, just to see how it would stand up to that of Chote Chitr:
It wasn't bad, but not nearly as rich, citrusy and complex as Chot Chitr's.
We had a couple other things as well, including a soup with duck and pickled lime, and the yummy crab-filled hor mok shown at the top of the post. Virtually every dish was excellent.
Sorndaeng also proved to be one of the few places I was actuallly inspired to order a dessert:
Mango and sticky rice--a Thai cliche, but still very nice, even if it wasn't peak mango season.
Finally: highly recommendable upscale Thai food.
Sorndaeng (Google Maps link) 78/2 Th Ratchadamnoen Klang 02 224 3088 10am-11pm