Sanguan Sri in the Phloen Chit area is an old favorite lunch spot of mine, especially for the curries. The food is genuine and tasty home cooking. All dishes are made from scratch, no skipping or short cuts to the process. It’s basically a must visit if in the area.
At my first visit a few years ago, I just started smiling when entering the cafeteria kind of room. A number of grannies occupying a few tables, enjoying themselves with a number of dishes. A clear sign back in those days, and an even better sign these days, that there will be good food on the table. Those grannies just don’t accept anything. Their presence still represent handcraft, quality and a genuine interest from the Chef in the food served.
The curries at Sanguan Sri really stands out. If you plunder to understand why your home made curry doesn’t even come close to what the real deal can offer, you should show up at Sanguan Sri.
You will immediately notice the pockets of oil floating on the surface. The curry is oily, but it doesn’t leave you with an oily tongue. What they do is to separate the coconut cream from the milk and warm it in a pan until it completely breaks up and the oil is separated. That little hint of a nutty flavor comes from this process. Then you stir in the curry paste with all the flavors until the aromas has been released. From here on it is rather standard. The chicken green curry, that is my favorite together with the duck with red curry, comes with the usual small aubergines, lime leafs etc. The duck red curry is a Tuesday and Friday treat, but you have to be early to get some.
The Pad Kra Pao Gay is spicy and good, not skipping on the chilies. It is the purist version without oyster sauce. It comes with more stock based gravy than most places, something I like as the dish is served with rice. Be aware that the fried egg is a side dish and is ordered separately. I did order it, but this time the egg stayed in the kitchen. For those who still don’t know, the combo of stirred fried chilies (until the raw taste has disappeared) and a running egg yolk is one of the more beautiful food matches in this world.
They also have a few not so common dishes, some with Chinese inspirations, like blanched pork with peanut sauce and morning glory. I new experience. The morning glory (Pad Pak Boong Fai Daeng) is of course excellent and is made in the usual way with fish sauce, oyster sauce, been curd etc. The slices of pork are extremely juicy and tender, and the peanut sauce really has the right texture and wonderful flavors, but unfortunately is a tad to sweet for my liking. If you have a sweet tongue, as many Thai’s have, you have come to the right dish. Anyway, the dish is really well made and it is only me not being fond of sweet stuff for dinner that turns it down. A less sweet sauce and it would have been a spot on dish. It comes with vinegar and a slice of chili (a kind of relish) on the side that take some of the sweet edges away.
Sanguan Sri is busy during lunch time, and I’m most likely not the only one experiencing missing a side order (the fried egg) in the most hectic lunch hours. The clientele is mainly office workers and few staffs from the diplomatic office spread around in the area. As it is tucked away in an diplomatic neighborhood, you can easily walk by this spot without even noticing that there is a restaurant here. There is also no signs of a restaurant outside this modest concrete building.
Sanguan Sri has an extensive menu with more than hundred dishes to choose from. In addition to that they have additional special menus for the weekdays. That would normally give raise to some concern for me and many others, but there is no reason to raise your eyebrows looking at the menu here. Not that all dishes are equally good, but they are all done with real cooking skills. Non-vegetarian main courses costs around 60-80 for small portion and the double for large portions. Slightly higher prices then your average hole in the wall joint, but worth the money, especially for the curry lovers.
The staff have limited knowledge of English, but it should really not be a problem as you get a place-mate menu with English names of the dish under every photo. In the most busy parts of the lunch hours you might experience a wait. It is not very well organised, but hey, if you go here you come for the food.
Two other great spots for curries in Bangkok are Krua O.V. near the Dusit Zoo and Ran Nai Oo in Chula Soi 11, a short walk from the MRT Sam Yan station. Both of them with the option of having khanom jeen noodles with your curries, which is rice vermicelli noodles that is carefully fermented. You also have good curries at a couple of the more up-scaled eateries in town, namely Nham on Sathorn road for their Penang curry with Wagyu beef and Bo.Lan in Sukhumvit Soi 53 for their red curry of prawn with local seasonal fruits. Both of them with a Michelin Star. Be aware that both Nahm and Bo.Lan do changes in their menu.
Name: Sanguan Sri
Food: Southern and central Thailand based food, but also some Sino-Thai inspired dishes
Open: Mon- Sat 10 am – 3 pm
Price: Moderately priced. Quite a lot of the dishes comes in small (60-80 bath) and big size (120-160 bath .
Phone: +66 2 251 9378
Address: 59/1 Witthayu Road
How to get there: Take the BTS to Pholen Chit. Take exit # 3 and take the stairs down to Witthayu road, from there walk down until you see it on your left side (one minute). When you pass the hotel Grand Centre Point on the other side of the Witthayu road, walk another 20 meters.