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Motormouth From Ipoh

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Once Upon A Time ... in Bangkok - Traditional Thai Food

From previous chapter of Fuji Japanese Restaurant in Bangkok ....

The world famous, Erawan Shrine aka Four-Faced Buddha (or actually, Phra Phrom/Brahma) in the heart of Bangkok city

For a brief rundown on the shrine, the deity and the infamous incident whereby a mentally-ill man was beaten to death by bystanders, following the vandalisation of the statue back in 2006, refer to Wikipedia's story HERE.

Light em up, make your most sincere offers, and wash away the sins?

Situated at a corner on a very busy intersection of Ratchaprasong in Pathumwan district, this shrine has seen visitors from all over the world, flocking to the gated area, coming to pay their respect, and more often than not, making their wishes. To get to the shrine, one can either take the taxi and alight at Grand Hyatt Erawan Hotel, next to the shrine, or take the skytrain to Chitlom station, within walking distance to this shrine.

But beware!!! While we were on our way to the shrine, we were stopped in our tracks by an 'officer'. Seemingly, the shrine was closed until 2pm that day (it was only about 10 or 11am) for some ceremony. Hence he suggested for us to visit the Lucky Buddha instead. But this is a proven SCAM! Refer to various forums and tips from other travellers.

Needless to say, Erawan Shrine was NOT closed to the public, nor holding any specific ceremony that morning. Kinda left a bad taste in the mouth .... imagine foreigners falling for the prank, or scam.

Once Upon A Time Restaurant - Unwind, Relax, & Travel back in Time

There is this rather obscure Thai restaurant with a long standing history in Pratunam area of Bangkok, aptly named, Once Upon A Time. For their colourful past, refer to their website HERE. Astonishingly, the brand started way back in 1989. A grand 20 glittering years.

Selection of liquors to go with your Thai cuisine, a porcelain cup of tea, and the classic aura of the place was indeed captivating

Thanks to sc, we managed to drag our fatigued carcasses to this place, on a small lane opposite of Phantip Plaza. We nearly gave up halfway, for the lane (Soi Petchaburi 17) looks like it's leading us to another part of town, lined with houses, and empty lots. Halfway through the lane, from the corner of our eyes, (with saliva a-dripping, and hunger pangs a-drumming) we caught sight of the restaurant, almost invisible to the naked eye, amidst a rich foliage of greeneries, trees and occupying a rather spacious lot.

Mieng Kam (98.50 baht) - The traditional appetizer originating from Northern Thailand

The premise consists of 3 wooden houses in a compound decorated lusciously with mango trees, pleasing vegetations, with different corner to cater to the different crowd, as well as to the patrons' moods. You can choose to be seated indoor, in an air-conditioned seating area, with a capacity of about 30 people. The ornaments, pictures, lighting and scent did conjure up vivid images of the yesteryears, almost a litte eerie to be dining amidst the nostalgic, ancient ambience.

Or if you do not mind being feasted upon by mosquitoes, feel free to enjoy a refreshing meal al fresco, with minimal intrusion & source of light, mainly coming from the candle lit and placed on every table. Bad for photography, hence we hurried like rats on the run, and parked our derrieres inside the more comfortable dining hall.

The ubiquitous Tom Yum Kung - continuously heated to preserve the warmth of the piquant soup ...

Even the workers were decked in the most simple, and traditional clothings. White t-shirts, long loose pants (almost passes off as 'sarung'), and sandals. ;) They probably saved a lot on the staff's costumes.

Hoy Dja Pou Kho You Douay (Deepfried Crab Shells, stuffed with marinated pork+crab meat) @ 153.75 baht, Panfried vegetables, and Phaneng, Phad Phong Curry Chicken @ 217.50baht

Sadly, the food failed to impress as much. Other than the thick, aromatic curry chicken (boneless fillets of chicken was served, a nice touch), the other dishes did not manage to impress. The Tom Yum was passable, but a little too diluted, even when compared to T&K's version at Chinatown. Probably accustomed to Malaysia's close encounter of the fiery/tangy kind, we felt a little shorthanded on this one. Not brimming with ingredients as well, given the rather pricey tag, at about 300baht/RM30 for the small serving.

The Mieng Kam (appetizer of wrapped ingredients in leaves) served its purpose well, as a stimulating appetizer for the ensuing meal. The sauce concocted to be served with the myriad of ingredients wrapped in the betel leaves was a thick, dark, sweet and tasty one.

The stuffed crab shells was terribly dry, even when dipped into the accompanying Thai chilli sauce, and rather bland in terms of taste. The panfried vegetables was NOT our call, but the waiter persistently insisted that we ordered the dish, being one of their 'specialties', or so it seemed. Only to realise that we were served with plain, stir-fried mixed vegetables, or chap chai cooked Chinese style.

A romantic meal for two is possible, at Once Upon A Time ...

If it's still bright, feel free to be seated on the outside. Once dark, creatures lurk in the bushes. Nah ....... not the District 9's prawns. But those dastardly buzzing bloodsuckers.

The meal came to 1200baht/RM120 for the four of us. A rather expensive meal, given the smaller than usual portions (we were still craving for food after the meal), but the environment was a justifiable trade-off. The service was top notch as well, consistently filling our cups with the jasmine tea, without being too intrusive.

The upstairs of the restaurant consist of two exhibitional bedrooms, with classic wooden decor, and ornaments not commonly seen. Lest you're from the 60's.

Location : Once Upon A Time Restaurant @ 32, soi Petchaburi 17 (opposite Phantip Plaza) Petchaburi Road, Pratunam, Bangkok, Thailand.

Tel. 0-2252-8629 Fax 0-2251-5975 Mobile 0-1833-8336

Opens daily from 11am until 12am.


Julian Si said...

Really interesting makan :-) Nice one!

ps - You must try the Chokchai TBone steak in BKK next time you visit, its the best :-)

Selba said...

Beautiful shots!

The Mieng Kam really intrigued me... I must try it someday!

J2Kfm said...

Julian Si : where's that? in town as well?

Selba : i'm sure most Thai restaurants serve them as appetizer, aside from the common Thai salads.

Anonymous said...

nice ambiance, but bit too pricey coz those were ordinary thai dishes ya!

Anh said...

Your photos are gold! They make me want to jump onto a plane and fly straight there!

allenooi said...

tried the mieng kam in the khun thai restaurant in raja uda months ago. not bad.

mboy said...

The decor & atmosphere was top-notch. But the food is so-so & for that kind of price, we cud have eaten lots in local traditional restaurants! =P

minchow said...

An amazing find, even if the taste wasn't quite up to par with the ambience! Haha, the street scams on famous spots' closure are so widely known now that I'm surprised they still think they can get away with it! They're almost a tourist attraction themselves!

"Joe" who is constantly craving said...

haha a good reminder of the time i got conned in bangkok..

§pinzer said...

wow what on earth!!! amazing place :D

fufu said...

wanna go back to thailand sooner XD miss tomyam so much~~

foodbin said...

a pretty nice name for a restaurant-love those photos esp the Mieng Kam.

J2Kfm said...

SimpleGirl : authentic, and cater mostly to the tourists, I think.

Anh : haha, thanks for the compliment.

allenooi : oh i had that at Khun Tai as well, not bad.

mboy : how true. good ambience, but paltry affair.

550ml jar of faith : thanks to sc for the directions though. wouldnt know how to crawl my way there myself.

Joe : conned? hahaha ... same old, same old.

Spinzer : really? pity the food failed to impress though.

fufu : you're basically everywhere in the world now. still wanna go back bangkok meh? :)

foodbin : befitting name, bringing back the memories from the olden days.

Big Boys Oven said...

this is definitely a place I will have a reservation for two, just awesome !

HairyBerry said...

"we managed to drag our fatigued carcasses to this place"


the restaurant looks nice la, despite the slight touristy feel. worth a visit la, i guess.

Ciki said...

so lucky.. ur in thailand again! how many times have i walked pass that shrine in that first photo.. really if you're shopping, you cannot miss it! Nostalgic la.. ;)

J2Kfm said...

BBO : haha, environment wise, yes. but food-wise, not so. or maybe we ordered the wrong stuff? but mostly the staff recommended the dishes.

Nic : for camwhoring, yes. food? I'll stick to the usual hawker fare. roadside grilled fish with salt, anyone?

CUmi n Ciki : yeahloh. we prayed not once, but twice. hahaha .... least we x kena the flu thereafter.

worldwindows said...

I am amazed at the outdoor space and greens in this BKK resto! One may find lots of these spacious and blended with nature kind of joints esp in the north even in small towns. The iconic mieng kham is one of its kind!

Unknown said...

Don't forget to go back to "wan" if your prayers come true ;) Didcha visit Panthip to stock up on DVD's ? *ROFL*

choi yen said...

A nice place to spend a night (dinner) there, perhaps not too many mosquitoes at outdoor :P

ai wei said...

nice place le!!! i wan a trip to BKK now!!!

cariso said...

I went to the wrong Four-Faced Buddha last time, I only knew about it when the tour guide told me,"Nah, this is the one...but since we are running out of time...we will skip if none of you wanna go.." Then only I realized "ei, the opposite one is the one I went to instead!" :(

sc said...

yeah, the ambiance was cozy and interesting.. but the pamelo som tum was yummy. you didnt try that? and the yellow curry was pretty good too. the only same stuff we ordered was the tomyum, which i agree, was just mediocre.

sc said...

yeah, the ambiance was cozy and interesting.. but the pamelo som tum was yummy. you didnt try that? and the yellow curry was pretty good too. the only same stuff we ordered was the tomyum, which i agree, was just mediocre.