When a friend of ours showed us this blog post we knew we had to make a stop here while we were in Bangkok. It looked like just the sort of place we love: unpretentious and delicious. We weren’t wrong.
Soei is a bit off the beaten path but it’s well worth the slog through Bangkok backroads. Every dish we had was something we’d never had before. The flavors were intense and bright. Just thinking about the place gets our mouth salivating.
After the trek to arrive there (more on that later) we sat down at a plastic table in the courtyard of an innocuous building on an inconspicuous backstreet. The menu consisted of legal paper with lines of type in Times New Roman inside the plastic sleeves of a binder. Off to a good start. The menu didn’t offer too much in the way of description but luckily it was accompanied by a photo album with pictures of many of the dishes. Not being experts on Thai cuisine ourselves we deferred to Mark’s excellent judgement and basically ordered what he did. This made it easier on ourselves and our server because we could just point to the picture of what we wanted on our phone.
The first dish to hit our table was the fried mackerel heads. These little delicacies were salty, crunchy, and delicious. They went great with our large Heineken beer and ended up being one of our favorite dishes of the meal. The heads were so crunchy and flaky they dissolved in our mouths in a delicious display of destruction. Needless to say, this plate of fried fish heads did not last long.
This is one of those dishes we can see people being squeamish about but we’re certain they’d enjoy if they could get over the fact they’re eating a part of a fish they’ve been trained not to. One of the things we so appreciate about non-western cuisine is their use of all parts of the animal: bones, sinew, tendon, and head–that’s where the deliciousness resides!
Next up was the Thai ceviche. This one packed a real punch. You can see the whole cloves of garlic in the photo but what might be harder to tell from the photos is the massive amount of wasabi in the citrus bath. Every bite of this dish sent our nostrils reeling like we just did a rail of pure Colombian horseradish.
After the ceviche came the grilled prawns or pla goong pao. These were served in a salad of chilies, green onions, shallots, and tomatoes. As you can see, there was also a generous heaping of fresh basil on top. The best part of this dish were the succulent and buttery shrimp heads.
At this point we probably could have left satisfied but that first dish of fried mackerel heads had us craving some more of that most underrated of fish, so we ordered the mackerel with fried garlic. This dish was a nice way to calm our taste buds down after the flavor explosion of the previous ones. Besides, we’ve never shied away from fried garlic.
To summarize, this was a meal we won’t soon forget. In closing, we’ll admit that at the time the spice level of some of these dishes was a bit overpowering. Though our tastebuds have been battle-hardened through years of experimental eating, they are still Western by birth and the dishes at Soei were the epitome of foreign, exotic, and spicy. Still, they left us feeling dangerous and exhilarated.
Soei is a good ways out of the zone but those who make the effort to arrive at its red plastic lawn chairs will be justly rewarded. To get there we took the BTS Skytrain to the Ari station then alighted from their on foot (we tried to take a cab but he kicked us out after he learned we didn’t speak Thai). It’s about a twenty minute walk from the station to the restaurant. After we gorged ourselves we opted for an Uber pickup from the restaurant back to the station.