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RESTAURANT OF THE WEEK
KALOANG HOME KITCHEN
First of all let me say right off the bat that if you're "squeemish" about neighborhoods or the initial appearance of a restaurant, you may be put off by this place. But, we found it to be an interesting, tasty, inexpensive and genuinely Thai experience!
We always do our homework before setting out on big international trips. We find the highest rated hotels that fit our budget and try to pick some restaurants we'd like to try even before leaving home.
We've found Frommer's restaurant recommendations to be quite good and this restaurant seemed really appealing in the Frommer description because of the fact that it served up some of the most genuine local food around. And it seemed to have a choice setting right by the Chao Phraya River.
Early on in our visit to Bangkok I mentioned the Kalong Home Kitchen to our driver from the Shangri-La hotel and he gave us "that look" as if this wasn't the sort of place we'd probably enjoy. But what the heck, we hailed a cab one night and off we went.
After a considerable ride from the Shang (probably about :40 minutes) our driver pulled over to the side and pointed. Obviously we had arrived but where was the restaurant?
We wandered down a small alleyway with stray but collared dogs on each side of the lane and average to modest Thai homes. People were bathing their kids, havin' a beer out on the front porch, etc.
After a short walk, the alleyway ended and there it was. It didn't even have a sign in English and it looked a bit dubious. I had phoned ahead and made a reservation just in case. We were immediately welcomed as the waiter asked if we were the couple coming from the Shangri-La hotel.
The setting was interesting, to say the least. The restaurant sits out on a ramshackle pier right over the Chao Phraya River. You wonder if the wood underneath you is going to collapse as you are escorted to your table. Your initial impression is "wonder if we'll get sick eating here?" Then you notice that some of your fellow diners are well dressed Thai locals and you relax.
About this time you realize that all the servers are transvestites. Not that it matters but I argued with my wife that our waiter was a man dressed like a woman. It was my wife's contention that it was it was a woman dressed like a man. Either way, he or she was a very courteous and helpful server.
This is an open air setting with a pleasant breeze. Occasionally a long tail boat pulls up next to the restaurant with vendors selling various items.
We carefully studied the lengthy and somewhat confusing menu and picked a whole bunch of different items to get an idea of what the true cuisine of Thailand is all about.
Here's what we sampled and all of it was good to great: Fried vegetables (bok choy, asparagus, tomatoes and mushrooms), Cashew chicken, Beef with chili sauce, Fried shrimp in chili sauce (good but the dish came with the shells still on), "Pork in soup," and a huge bowl of steaming, sticky rice. I chased it all down with two large Singha beers and Cindy went through a couple of bottles of water. Total bill for all of this, a skimpy 700 baht or roughly $13.50 U.S.
I can't imagine that you'd need a reservation but if you'd like to call them just in case, their number is 281-9228 or 281-7581. Their card simply mentioned the phone number the way I've listed it but you may have to put a (66) in front of it to get it to work. The restaurant is open from 11am to 11pm daily.
And no, we did not get a case of Montezuma's revenge from eating here!
ADDITIONAL RESTAURANT REVIEWS FROM BANGKOK:
Restaurant of the Week
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