By Frank Lihn
The exterior of the restaurant is nondescript;
a sliding door panel of glass separates the interior from the bustling city street sidewalk.
A funky sign hangs above the entry – “Soul Food.”
Slide the door to open and enter a warm, cozy room. The ground floor contains ten stools lined before the bar, tables for sixteen or so along the opposite wall, the second floor seats an additional two dozen or more diners.
Soul Food is bustling on a Monday night. The flow of Thais, local farangs (expats), and tourists is constant, no table is empty, and the food servers never cease their round trip journey up and down narrow staircases from the third floor kitchen.
I am in awe of their stamina.
Soul Food proudly boasts “Wholesome ingredients. Honest cooking. Serious Drinks.” And that is evident. Organic pork and eggs, sustainable produce and fine preparation have earned Soul Food a well-deserved reputation in Thong Lor.
The cuisine is Traditional Thai served on small plates meant for sharing. The entrees are presented unpretentiously –
there are no faddish flourishes, nothing on the plate to distract from the food:
Yam Makrua Yao – a mildly spicy combination of eggplant, bacon, mint and coriander was a lovely beginning, followed by a Seafood Omelet that was light, laden with shrimp, and served with two side sauces, each adding a different level of subtle, then not-so-subtle flavor.
Three more entrees followed, each accompanied by steamed rice, brown rice, and Thai sticky rice in a bamboo basket. First, Gaeng Massaman with Lamb was outstanding – a mild, rich, flavorful curry with potato and tender chunks of savory lamb.
Next, Sticky Tamarind Ribs that were tender, the meat falling from bones into a deep, flavorful sauce of tamarind and spice, and finally Smoked Duck Larb combined both fresh and smoked duck diced and immersed in a sour/spicy dressing redolent with fresh coriander, mint and spices.
The surrounding tables were filled with contented diners, their conversation humming, and their satisfaction evident in an informal and comfortable atmosphere that would not be out of place near a college campus.
Soul Food is a popular, trendy, moderately priced local hot spot where “wholesome… honest cooking” is a trademark.