Jun 06 2013
Located right next to century-old Nang Loeng market in Bangkok’s historic district, Sor Roong Roj has been dishing out fantastic Hokkien-Chinese fare, with a Thai touch, since 1963.
After a few stares from Thai diners surprised to see foreigners, we were welcomed by a straightforward but friendly middle aged gentleman who speaks good English. He seemed seasoned at providing consistent, unpretentious service for anyone from local street sweepers to Western backpackers to millionaires from Shanghai.
The only furniture in this cramped air-conditioned shop are eight stainless steel tables to go with red plastic stools. People come for incredible food, not ambiance, and a wall of framed articles, awards and photos of Thai superstars and celebrity chefs who’ve sought the place out display how Sor Roong Roj is truly a Bangkok institution.
Despite the shop’s small size, its kitchen churns out no less than 107 dishes spread across an intimidating 10-page Thai-English menu. The restaurant is best known for braised duck, khao muu daeng (roast pork with rice and hard-boiled egg) and house-made ba-mii (egg noodles).
Some selections are really just different parts of the same thing, such as “Braised Duck Wing, Webs, Muzzles and Necks” and “Duck Livers, Gizzards, Entrails and Blood”, but distinctive dishes like “Braised Fish Maw Soup with Crabmeat” and “Fried Chinese White Chives with Oyster Sauce” are also available. Most dishes cost around 30 baht, though a whole roast duck will run you 380.
Although the rice dishes were tempting, we came specifically for the famous house-made noodles and braised duck. A bowl of kwit-thiao pet (thin rice noodle soup with duck) with a sprinkling of bean sprouts, chives and cilantro and a side of sweet and spicy sauce proved that Sor Roong Roj deserves the hype. As the Thais would say, ‘aroi aroi mak mak tii sut’, which translates precisely as ‘the most most delicious delicious!’
Maybe it was the fluorescent lights, but when our bowl of ba-mii muu nam (“egg noodle soup with soft boiled pork tenderloin”) arrived, the light grey hunks of pork didn’t look all that appetising. Yet this was a fine example that, especially when it comes to food in Asia, you can’t judge a book by its cover. The broth was some of the most flavourful we’ve tried in Bangkok and the pork and egg noodles melted in the mouth. Along with a dollop of house chilli sauce, it was heaven in a plastic bowl.
The third member of our party went for something a bit more out of the ordinary: buu awp wun-sen, or glass noodles steamed with crab and spices. Served in a steel pot that let out a billow of steam when opened, the dish had a more dramatic presentation than the soups.
Translucent noodles are seasoned in black soy sauce and pepper, then steamed for 20 minutes over big chunks of galanga, Chinese ginger, coriander and garlic. When all of these flavours have sufficiently mingled, a very generous portion of savoury crab meat is added along with a finishing of cilantro. Picture Homer Simpson blissfully stuffing his face full of doughnuts and beer with belt unbuckled in front of the TV. This dish made us about 30 times happier.
To reach Hokkien heaven, make your way to Nakhon Sawan Road and turn into narrow Soi 6 (aka Nang Loeng Soi 1), the gateway to Nang Loeng market. If you take a taxi, tell the driver ‘talaat nang loeng‘. Turn left down the first alleyway just before the market and you’ll find Sor Roong Roj on the left after no more than 20 metres (see map). We realise it may be difficult to save room, but Nang Loeng also boasts an exceptional selection of old school Thai food, including outstanding sweets — you can always take them to go.
Sor Roong Roj
Soi Nakhon Sawan 6 (next to Nang Loeng market), Bangkok
T: (022) 819 755 / (081) 808 5363
Open daily 08:00-20:30
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