Add: Phibun Watthana 6 Alley, Phaya Thai, Bangkok, Thailand 10400
หมู่บ้านพิบูลย์วัฒนา พระราม 6หมู่ พิบูลย์วัฒนาแยก6 เข้ามาในหมู่บ้านไม่ไกลนัก สังเกตุร้านจะอยู่ด้านขวามือ ก่อนถึงวงเวียน
Phone: 081-563-3131, 086-203-6603
Hours: closed Sat; Sun-Fri 10:00am-9:30pm
Visited: May 2017
Will return: Yes
Tucked away in an old residential neighborhood in Phaya Thai, Soei is definitely not something tourists would stumble upon. Yet the restaurant drew unanimous praise from all my food blogger friends as somewhere to experience local, authentic Thai food.
A hidden gem in the truest sense of the word, the place is a bit of a trek from the metro station, so take a taxi – or better yet, take an Uber to avoid confusion about the address and the potential haggle with the taxi driver. (The address is listed at the end of this post in both English and Thai.)
The restaurant is quite spacious, with abundant seating both indoor and outdoor, and packed to the brim with locals, the first sign that we’ve chosen well.
แก้มปลาทูทอด (kaem pla too tod)
Fried mackerel cheeks
Starting the meal with a crunchy snack. The fried mackerel cheeks looked somewhat ghastly, but these were in fact a signature at Soei, seen on every single table. Deep-fried till they were delightfully light and crispy, the fish were fragrant with a scattering of fried garlic and scrumptious with a side of chili sauce. The dish isn’t really a Thai tradition, but there is no denying that it’s an ingenious snack.
The food at Soei leans decidedly towards the bolder end of the Thai flavor spectrum. All the dishes we ordered were punchy and unapologetic in their acidity and heat, but immaculate in their underlying balance.
ต้ำยำปลาทู (tom yum pla too)
Mackerel tom yum soup
A single sip of this tom yum soup was enough to jolt us wide awake, the clear broth packed with an unlikely amount of flavor. Brimming with the fragrance of Thai basil and the heat of green chilies, the soup was almost ridiculously sour, the first display (among many that evening) that Soei never pulls a punch.
พล่ากุ้งเผา (pla goong pao)
The shrimps were almost completely obscured beneath a blanket of lemongrass, chilies, garlic, shallots, and Thai basil, thrown in a tangy dressing made with a generous squeeze of lime juice and a dash of fish sauce. The shrimps soothed the palette with their sweet, creamy flesh and the rich, flavorful head butter. The flavor profile was layered, clean, and vibrant.
ยำไข่ดาว (yam kai dao)
Fried egg salad
The fried egg salad ran much along the same lines, its acidity and fragrance assertive but not obtrusive. I was deeply impressed with how precisely the chefs controlled the cook on the eggs. The whites were firm all the way through, with a decisive golden crust on the outside, yet the yolk remained completely runny. The creamy egg yolk provided relief in much the same way the shrimps did the previous dish, but with more depth, while the crisp edges added a textural dimension. (This salad isn’t actually on the menu, but now you’re in the know. 😉)
กากหมูผัดกะเพรา (kak moo pad ka prao)
Stir-fried pork fat
This plate is exactly what it sounds like. Pork skin and pork fat were stir-fried with red chilies, Thai basil, and kaffir lime leaves. The progression of flavors was smooth and clean, running from the sweet, fragrant basil to the crispy richness of pork fat, lightened by kaffir lime, and ending with a back hit of heat that lingered and built insistently on the tongue.
ปูนิ่มผัดผงกะหรี่ (boo neem pad pongari)
Soft shell crab curry
A rare and welcome deviation from all the sourness and spiciness (but still more spicy than most curries I’ve had), this dish was infinitely comforting with its buttery sweetness and incredible depth. A generous spoonful of this on some white rice is enough to right all wrongs in the world.
Shaved ice with coffee and palm sugar
The requisite sweet ending. The shaved ice was flavored with coffee, palm sugar and, interestingly, basil seeds, a cool and refreshing treat before we headed out into the hot and humid Bangkok night.
We left Soei with our tongues tingling and our hearts racing from the relentless barrage of spiciness and acidity. But as someone with a fairly low tolerance for heat, I was surprised by how deeply addictive Soei’s food was, the intense, explosive flavors tempting and daring us at the same time. Compared to the milder, more tourist-friendly version of Thai food we had across our journey, our dinner at Soei felt as though we were experiencing everything through a magnifying glass, all the flavors vibrant and technicolored, memorable and endlessly exciting. It is beyond my limited experience with Thai food to lay any kind of judgment upon the meal, and the restaurant is certainly not for the faint-hearted, but given the chance, I’d go back in a heartbeat.