Good food and air-con
392/1 Chakphet Rd, Bangkok
T: (02) 221 6656
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Tucked down a dark alley near Sri Guru Singh Sabah Sikh temple in Little India Pahurat, tiny Royal India Restaurant is a fine option for authentic Indian fare in an air-conditioned room.
Bangkok has no shortage of Indian restaurants, including some excellent higher end choices around Sukhumvit and Silom. Most of Pahurat's Indian eateries are nondescript open-fronted shops with a few tables and sometimes not even a sign. Royal is a lot easier to find thanks to its large sign along the main road, and the quality of food is good as well.
At the front of a tiny alley, 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. We're not talking luxury here, but the air-con is welcome in the typically steamy weather.
The place is often full of locals — Thais, Indians and all sorts of foreign residents — not thanks to the atmosphere but rather the food. The menu offers mainly standards like aloo gobhi, roghan josh, chicken tandoori and a range of nans, kulchas and parathas. 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, 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 the accompanying nan crisp on the outside but doughy and warm in the middle.
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 sold next door. Go ahead and stock up; you won’t find anything quite like them in most parts of Bangkok.
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.
By David Luekens
Last updated on 12th January, 2015.