Great Thai food near Wat Arun
Wang Doerm Road, Thonburi, Bangkok
T: (084) 933 7222
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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 tasty Thai food in a comfortable and accessible package.
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 backpacker district, but instead is named after a popular Thai children’s game. Given the restaurant’s simple, clean and cheerful cafe-style atmosphere, it’s fitting.
One of our pet peeves when it comes to Thai restaurants that cater to foreigners 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 if you don't read Thai.
A very good rendering of one of our favourite Thai spicy salads, pla koong, is hidden on the menu behind the sadly lacking alias, “prawn salad spicy”. With its blend of fresh 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 with the not so healthy “fried chicken wing with lemongrass” (gai tort takrai). With a subtly salty crispiness and deep fried strips of lemongrass, kaffir lime leaves and roasted chillies heaped on top, this was the sort of savoury snack that will want to make you order a second plate. It also goest great with cold beer, which is readily available here.
To cap off our meal, we added the “steamed squid in hot and sour soup” (pla muk nung manao). The translation was identical to how tom yum soup is usually found on tourist restaurant menus, so we were happy when the server appeared with a coal-heated steel platter that’s normally used for steamed fish.
The tangy lime-garlic-mint juice was hard to argue with. With a spoonful of broth and a nibble of the aromatics, 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 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.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 27th January, 2015.