Jul 15 2012
Looking for a good lunch spot after climbing the majestic (and steep) tower of Wat Arun? Tucked in a funky Thonburi neighbourhood behind the temple, Ree Ree Khaosan Restaurant puts out outstanding authentic Thai food in a comfortable and accessible package. We checked Wat Arun off our sightseeing list some time ago, but we still make the trip often, specifically to enjoy Ree Ree Khaosan’s consistently tasty fare.
To avoid confusion, Ree Ree Khaosan Restaurant is on the western side of the Chao Phraya River in Thonburi, not on Khao San Road as its name suggests. In fact, the name has nothing to do with Bangkok’s notorious backpacker district, but instead is named after a popular children’s game played throughout Thailand. Given the restaurant’s simple, clean and cheerful cafe-style atmosphere, it’s fitting.
One of my pet peeves when it comes to Thai restaurants that cater to foreigners (at least until my Thai reading skills come along) is how the names of Thai dishes are usually poorly translated into English, and the actual Thai words are not transliterated into Roman characters. Unfortunately, this is the case at Ree Ree Khaosan, so be prepared for some guesswork (or to speed up those Thai lessons). Unlike many such tourist-oriented restaurants, however, Ree Ree Khaosan’s food is authentic and spicy.
Just because something is “authentic” doesn’t necessarily mean it’s worth eating, but Ree Ree Khaosan’s food tastes incredible too. A fabulous rendering of one of my favourite Thai spicy salads, pla koong, is hidden on the menu behind the sadly lacking alias, “prawn salad spicy”. With its blend of fresh tender prawns, slices of lemongrass, chillies, red onion, garlic, lime juice, lettuce and mint leaves, they would have done better to translate this one as “mixture of goodness”.
As an appetiser, we accompanied the fresh and healthy pla koong salad with the not so healthy “fried chicken wing with lemongrass” (gai tort thaklai). I can’t ever recall trying a bad fried chicken wing in Thailand, but I also can’t recall any that blew me away either. Until now, that is. With a subtly salty crispiness and deep fried strips of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and roasted chillies heaped on top, this was easily the best fried chicken Thailand has shown me yet.
To cap off our meal, we added the “steamed squid in hot and sour soup” (pla muk nuumanow). Based on the English translation, we loosely expected a tom yum-style soup to come out, but we were pleasantly surprised when the server appeared with a coal-heated steel platter that’s normally used for steamed fish.
Not sure why they call this a “hot and sour soup” (the menu’s Thai script transliterates to noomanow, which means lime, and the broth wasn’t spicy), but the tangy lime-garlic-mint juice was hard to argue with. With a spoonful of broth and a mint leaf or two, the tender hunks of squid rounded out one of those meals where you can’t decide which was your favourite dish — they were all just that good.
Ree Ree Khaosan offers an extensive menu that includes noodles, stir-fries, curries, salads, finger foods, whole fishes and some Thai-style spaghetti plates. Next time we’ll try the “steamed striped snakehead fish with spicy sauce” or “spicy fried wild boar in red curry”. With ice cold beer and free WiFi also available in the bright air-con cafe, you can’t beat Ree Ree Khaosan for cooling off after some sightseeing.
To get here from Wat Arun, take a left onto the side street directly behind the temple, then follow the road as it turns to the right. Ree Ree Khaosan is just around the corner, one shopfront before Arun Ammarin Road.
Ree Ree Khaosan Restaurant
Wang Doerm Road, Thonburi, Bangkok
T: (084) 933 7222
Open 10:30-21:00 Monday to Saturday (closed Sunday)
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