Than Ying Restaurant: A Royal Thai Cuisine
Even though I was born and raised in Thailand, there’s still so much about my own culture that seems so foreign. Thai Royal cuisine is one of them. I heard a lot about Kao chae and its uneven reputation. Some people seem to love it while some are not so convinced by the idea of eating rice soaked in jasmine water. To me, even though I’m not the biggest fan of eating soggy rice, I love the beautiful presentation and delectable side dishes that comes with it. I sometimes just omit the rice and eat the side dishes by themselves.
To find out more about Thai Royal cuisine, I gathered my team of hard-to-please critics, my very own mother and grandmother, and ventureed towards one of Bangkok’s oldest and well-known restaurants.
Situated on Pramuan road, Than Ying is not located at the most ideal location. The restaurant is an old house with a tiny welcoming sign (so small that my mum had to abruptly break the car or we would have missed the entrance). The restaurant was founded 20 years ago by H.S.H. Princess Sulabh–Valleng Visuddhi ,who used to be head chef in the royal kitchen at Sukhothai Palace. The restaurant used to be on Soi Phipat but moved to its current location three years after it first opening.
Walking through the entrance, I can feel every bit of my mum’s constant raves about table manners coming back to me. Maybe it’s because of all the photographs of the royal family placed around the restaurant. Suddenly I was reminded to sit up straight and chew with my mouth closed. The restaurant’s interior is beautifully decorated in an orthodox fashion with hardwood floor and glass chandeliers. The walls are lined with family portraits of people dressed in ceremonial costume. Sitting here it was like I’ve been transported in time when foods were served in most delicate manner on beautiful china and gold silverware. Not to mention, the waiters were super polite and they talked in the softest of tones.
Flipping through the menu. I really like how their menu includes lots of pictures. Everything look so tempting that I have to keep reminding myself that I’m only ordering for three. In the end, apart from the Khao Chae, I chose to order Khao Tung Nha Tang (ข้าวตังหน้าตั้ง), which is crispy rice crackers served with pork dipping sauce, Tod Mun Pla Krai (ทอดมันปลากราย), which is spicy fish cakes with sweet sauce, Yum Tua Plu (ยำถั่วพลู), which is Wing beans salad in sour and sweet sauce. All dishes came looking colorful and vibrant (and in generous portions I might add). Khao Tung Nha Tung is definitely a must try. It is served with 7 rice crackers but the waiters will serve more, if asked, to eat with the remaining sauce. The Tod Mun Pla Krai is tasty but not too oily. I can definitely taste the herbs and the seasoning in the fish cakes and it pairs so well with the sweet sauce. As for the Yum Tua Ploo, it is one of my most favorite Thai dishes. The restaurants’s version is decent but I prefer my mum’s homecooked rendition of the dish, which is truly my all time favorite.
Now let’s talk about the Khao Chae. Khao Chae is composed of many side dishes plated on miniature pedestals and rice soaked in jasmine water, all of which are placed on an exquisite tray. Here at Than Ying there are 5 different side dishes.
1. Luk Kapi (ลูกกะปิ) Shrimp paste seasoned with shallots, ginger and garlic, rolled into a ball and fried to golden perfection
2. Horm Daeng Todd with Kapi (หอมแดงทอด) Shallots covered in Kapi and and fried until crispy.
3. Prik Yuak Yud Sai (พริกหยวกยัดใส้) Sweet pepper stuffed with minced pork and wraped with intricate fried egg layer.
4. Mhoo Foi (หมูฝอย) Shredded sweet pork coated with palm sugar and fish sauce before being deep fried.
5. Chai Poh Pad Kai (ไช้โป๊วผัดใข่) Chinese turnip, sweetened and stir fried with egg.
All of these are eaten with the jasmine rice, which is very fragrant and overall adds a delicate texture to the taste. Mum and Grandma didn’t really like the taste of Khao Chae, their taste preferences are more on the spicy side and would prefer something with a little chilli in it. As for me, I think that eating Khao Chae is all about the experience. Even if there are far more delectable Thai cuisines out there, the beautiful arrangement of dishes and the extricate carving of vegetable garnishings of Khao Chae’s presentation, adds to its the overall taste.
For dessert, I ordered Gluay Cheum (กล้วยเชื่อม) which is sweetened banana with coconut milk ice-cream and Fuk Tong Cheum (ฟักทองเชื่อม) which is sweetened pumpkin with coconut milk icecream. I personally love the sweetened pumpkin. It was chewy and sweet and goes very well with the creaminess of the coconut.
Than Ying restaurant opens from 11:30-22:00 daily. It is located on Pramuan Road and is accessible by car (parking space available) or is 5 minutes walking distance from Surasak BTS station.
Khao Chae set must be called to order one day in advance.
Than Ying Restaurant
Tel (66) 02-236-4361, (66) 02-235-0371
Fax (66) 02-635-0113