BANGKOK AMAZING GOURMET
Laem Chareon Seafood
On a sunning-shine-up afternoon we went to Laem Chareon Seafood with friends from Hong Kong to sample their famous seafood dishes prepared from only the freshest ingredients mainly from Rayong, that admired by the locals.
Laem Chareon Seafood is originated from Rayong (a seaside province southeast of Bangkok), with its first Bangkok branch opened few years ago in Meng Jai intersection of Bangkok’s Huay Khwang district, where we visited yesterday.
This three decades famous seafood restaurant drew my attention since the first time I went to Koh Samed passing by Rayong, my local friends brought me there for lunch before we boarded the ferry to the island; since then, I never complained again that along the Rayong coastline was lacking of a decent seafood restaurant to allow food connoisseurs like us to enjoy the seafood caught fresh by fishermen in the area.
One of our friends at the table is a super fan of cockles, so we started with the Hoy Kraeng Lua (quick-boiled cockles) and the Yum Pla Khao-san (spicy silver rice fish salad with Thai herbs). These ultra small fishes known as pla khao san (or silver rice fish) are a harvest off Rayong beaches, fishermen usually sun-dried them to sell near the fishermen pier. At Laem Charoen the tiny fishes were being deep-fried and dressed with yum sauce made of fish sauce, chilies, lime juice and cashew nuts together with mint, onion and tomatoes. They promote a taste of little spicy and hint of sour in good balance, and the mild salty and natural sweet of the fishes themselves weren’t overpowered by the sauce, an ideal dish to start the meal with a glass of beer. The cockles were delicious. They were fresh and naturally sweet in taste working out in harmony with the house’s sauce; we ordered another round of the quick-boiled cockles and also the Yum Hoy Kraeng (spicy cockle salad with Thai herbs). In a Thai restaurant, almost every dish (except the soup) has its own sauce/dip to enhance the taste. Sauces in Laem Charoen made from her own recipes, with special care of fresh ingredients included lime juice, chili and herbs having Laem Charoen’s taste different. In another word, the sauces/dips were marvelous.
To have my friends evolved their palate from tumyumgoong to chao-baan’s (villagers) tastes, we took the Gaeng Kua Poo Khai Nor Mai Dong (spicy & sour soup in preserved bamboo shoots and coconut curry with blue swimming crab and crab roe). My friends were lucky to sample this popular Eastern seaboard specialty while even many Thais have not. But not all of them like it. The soup was pungent hot with a strong smell of fermented shrimp paste and bamboo shoots, if you like it, it tastes aromatic or if you don’t then your taste buds sting. So for beginners to Thai food I do suggest you may keep a distance from the gaeng kua poo khai nor mai dong and stick with the commonly welcomed tumyumgoong (spicy and sour prawn soup).
One of the house specialties is the Pla Kapong Tord Nam-pla (deep-fried Thai white sea bass marinated with fish sauce). Our fish was fresh, crispy on the outside and tendered inside getting along perfectly with the sugarcane thickened fish sauce, without the unwelcome smell of aged fried oil like many other seafood restaurants do by saving cost.
More dishes to go with rice were, the Goong Pad Phong Karee (wok-fried prawns in yellow curry sauce), Hoy Chen Pad Kaphrao (wok-fried sea scallops with holly basil in hot and sweet sauce), Pad Yord Mara (stir-fried bitter gourd leaves), and Pad Pak Todmea (stir-fried snow pea sprouts). The prawns were CP grade but the curry was really good, not too thick and creamy, also yield a rich taste of the yellow curry instead of taste of a mixed-of-everything like some other seafood restaurants do. The sea scallops with holly basil was pungent hot and well done although the scallops were below my expectations, and not recommend to people with a tourist palate.
To conclude our lunch, we ordered the Seasonal Fruit Platter (water melon, pineapple and tangerine). Usually I don’t take desserts in Thai restaurants as they are always too generous for adding sugar and a lot of sugar. But at Laem Charoean, I had to order the Sala Loy Kaeo (sala fruits in syrup) not because at Laem Charoean the mentioned desserts were not sweet, but because sala fruits are famous crop from Rayong so I would like my friends sampling them.
Laem Chareon doesn’t require our sponsorship to its decoration; instead, we were convinced almost every penny was paid for the food and service. The shop layout is simple but clean, nothing fancy but bright as we opt for the goodness of Laem Charoen’s fresh seafood. Surprisingly services were attentive and prompt in a local-level managed restaurant. Our meal ended up was a pleasant one!
Laem Chareon Seafood Restaurant ****
577 Prachautit Road
Huay Khwang, Bangkok 10310
Open daily: 11am - 10pm
Pay (food only for two): around THB 1,000 with seafood
* Update on 04-October-2008 > Now Laem Chareon Seafood has a city branch, right at the Central World Plaza. I haven't tried the food in this new branch yet. Honestly, I don't quite trust those branches in a shopping mall. So I will still support Laem Chareon's Huay Khwang or Ramintra branch if not the Rayong main branch.