Oct 22 2012
Some of Bangkok’s best food is found in nondescript hole-in-the-wall restaurants and markets hiding behind high-rises. Tucked down a dark alley near Sri Guru Singh Sabah Sikh temple in Pahurat, tiny Royal India Restaurant is yet another diamond in the rough that takes a little effort to find but rewards those who appreciate real Indian food.
Bangkok has no shortage of Indian restaurants, including some excellent higher end choices around Sukhumvit and Silom. Partly because it covers such a small area, Little India or Pahurat just north of Chinatown doesn’t have as many Indian eateries as one would think, but when we stumbled upon Royal India, we immediately had a feeling it was something special.
Royal India’s only sign is a small yellow and red one on Chakraphet Road. It points down a nameless alleyway, and the restaurant itself is fronted only by a display of Indian-style sweets. Inside it’s a dim six-table deal with nothing for ambience save a TV in the corner playing Indian movies. The toilet is awkwardly tucked off a corner of the cramped kitchen.
This place is usually full of locals — Thais, Indians and all sorts of foreign residents — not thanks to the atmosphere but rather the food and value (but mostly the food). Although the menu offers mainly standards like aloo gobhi, roghan josh, chicken tandoori and a range of nans, kulchas and parathas, the quality is among the best we’ve discovered in town. Royal India can also get away with selling fantastic food for very little thanks to its presumably affordable locale. A full page of vegetarian dishes go for under 100 baht and meat curries come in at no more than 200 baht.
The chicken tikka masala we tried featured three hefty hunks of boneless white meat in a thick sauce with just the right amount of kick and tanginess. Our usual go-to vegetarian dish at any Indian restaurant, baigan bartha, far exceeded expectations. Whereas many restaurants cook the eggplant to the point that you can’t even tell you’re eating eggplant, Royal’s version featured mouthwatering chunks — skin and all — that retained that tender and mild character while melding perfectly with a blend of slow roasted tomato and spice. The dish was rich but not oily, and after slopping a bite onto the perfectly crisp and buttery nan, we knew this was our new favourite Bangkok Indian spot.
Along with plain nan, white rice and bottled water, we were out the door for just over 300 baht. Of course, once outside we couldn’t pass up the 10 to 20 baht sweet and savoury baked goods that Royal India is also famous for. Go ahead and stock up; you won’t find anything quite like them elsewhere.
To get here, make your way to Sri Guru Singh Saba Sikh temple, cross Chakphet Road, walk no more than 50 metres west and look for the sign on the left (see map). After a long day of exploring and shopping in Chinatown and Pahurat, Royal India not only offers excellent food but also adds to the whole experience of this eclectic part of town.
Royal India Restaurant
392/1 Chakphet Rd, Bangkok
T: (022) 216 656
Open 10:00-22:00 daily
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