Satay’s along the streets of Bangkok are not among my prime interests. But there are exceptions, as always, and Chong Kee on the border of Bangkok’s Chinatown is a true master in the art of barbequed pork satay. Which of course could be the answer to why the owner Vichai Lumlerokit also have barbequed for the royal family. A perfect bonus is the temple Wat Traimit with the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image just 100 meters away.
Most of the satay’s along Bangkok’s busy streets, especialy in tourist areas, are quite often rather dry and bland taste wise, with the MSG lifting the sticks to a eatable or passable snack after a few beers. The satay’s at Chong Kee are anything but that, and they don’t use MSG. Chong Kee is a juicy experience in the art of barbecued pork sticks.
The satay’s at Chong Kee is marinated in a mixture of coconut milk, turmeric and dry spices. So far, that’s a rather normal process for many vendors around the city, but that’s also were the simularities between Chong Kee and most of the others stop. The pork satay’s at Chong Kee are tastier, more tender and also juicier than most of the stalls you find in Bangkok. Chong Kee use fattier cuts then most others, which also explains why the meat doesn’t dry out and stays juicy. They also get a smoky flavor that really adds to the experience.
The satay’s comes with a relish made from red onion, cucomer, and mild chilies in a sweet and tart dressing. The peanut sauce is sweet, as it should be, but not overly sweet. It contains a bit of chili powder and coriander seeds, garlic, as well as some other herbs, possible best described as a hybride between the Chinese and the Thai world. It’s made with care and skills from the workers at Chong Kee, with a balance of sweet, salty, sour and spicy as a result. Both the relish and the dipping sauce are excellent handwork.
The satays are grilled inside the shop house, on a charcoal grill using coconut shells. They use no grate and the satay slopes downwards in order to let the dripping fat drain away from the fire, in order to avoid burned and dry meat. It’s a small room and the workers operating the grill definitively have what can be described as a rather heated work environment.
A bucket of a mild and refreshing green tea is placed on every table and I don’t think they charge you for it. Pour it into the cup of ice that they put in front of you. 10 stickers is 70 Bath. That’s a few bath more than on the streets, but you wont regret sitting down at Chong Kee. They are way better than the crowd, it’s barely comparable to be honest, and most likely, you will come back for another treat when in the area.
Chong Kee is a longstanding shophouse restaurant at the edge of Bangkok’s Chinatown. They specialises in pork and lever satay’s. I didn’t tasted the liver satay’s this time as I already had four lunches under my belt, including a visit to Si Morakot next door of Chong Kee, so that will be for my next visit.
There are a small handful of excellent satay vendors spread around the city, with a couple of them on the other side of Chao Phraya river, but more on that in a later report. With very few exceptions, you will have difficulties finding competitors to Chong Kee quality wise, especially when taking into account the relish and the peanut sauce. At Chong Kee, the satay’s are more than just a snack on the way, it’s a meal as well, in a good atmosphere to enjoy the food.
It’s no stress to get here even if you’re down town. Just take the Metro to Hua Lamphong station and you’re five minutes away, on a side street 100 meters away from Wat Tramit. It’s also on the way to Chinatown, with the Odeon circle and formal entrance gate just 150 meters away.
Name: Chong Kee (ชองกี่)
Food: Pork and liver skewers. they also have sweet toasts.
Open: Mon 9:30 – 2pm, Tue-Sun 9.30am – 7 pm
Price: 70 bath for 10
Phone: +66 (0) 22361171
Address: 84 Soi Sukon 1
How to get there: Take the MRT (Metro) to Hua Lamphong. Take exit 3 and walk for 4-5 minutes. From the Odeon Circle, walk towards Wat Traimit and pass it, take a right into the second alley and you find it on your right side. You can also come by express boat and go off at Ratchawong Pier and walk from there.
Wat Traimit (วัดไตรมิตรวิทยารามวรวิหาร)
You find the world’s largest solid gold Buddha image in Wat Trimit, a minute away from Chong Kee and also the entrance to Chinatown. The golden Buddha was casted sometime in the 13th Century ans is made of 83 % pure gold. The seated Buddha in Sukothai style is 15 foot tall, weight five and a half ton and has a remarkable history.
At some point it was covered in plaster and lacquer in an attempt to hide this valuable icon from thieves or looters. After some time everyone ivolved forgot about the coverup and what was hidden inside. The statue was moved to Bangkok during King Rama III’s time in power and installed in a temple that fell into disuse and abandoned around 1931, where the Oriental Hotel is today. And the golden Buddha inside was discovered by a true accident. In 1955 it was beeing moved to Wat Trimit, but during the process, the ropes broke and the statue crashed to the ground where some of the plaster fell off and revealed the gold underneath.
Today, the statue sits in a new chapel, opened in 2010. On the second floor of the structure house you find an exhibition covering the history of the Chinese community in Bangkok, including a 3D presentation. The third floor is a museum, covering the history of the Golden Buddha image itself. It also include a video presentation with a good and brief background on Buddha images in general. The exhibit covers how the image was made as well as the historical background of how it ended up in Wat Traimit.
Entrance fee: The Golden Buddha is 40 Bath. The museum costs an additional 100 Baht.
Opening hours: Daily 8am – 5pm. The museum (not the golden buddha) is closed on Mondays.
Location: Wat Traimit is located just off Odeon traffic circle, which is dominated by the huge symbolic Chinese gate marking the entrance to Bangkok’s Chinatown.
Getting there: From Yaowarat Road, take a left at the Odeon Circle. From Hua Lamphong, with all it’s ongoing road work (October 2015), the easiest way is to take Exit #3 and, cross the river on the bridge (part of Khao Lam road), then taking the first to the right into Soi Sukhon1 and walk (passing both Chong Kee and Si Morakot) to the intersection with Mittaphat Thai-China Road. You will see the temple on the other side of the road.
Phone: +66 2 225 9775