I’m a man with a few principles. One of them is to not eat food from endangered species. Another one is to stay away from food if only a small part of the animal is used for nutriotion and the rest is thrown away. At Hua Seng Hong they broke my heart twice.
We are talking about Chinatown. Lots of the guest are Chinese. And they serve genuine and authentic Chinese food (Teochew Chinese style). Bird nests and shark fins are as integrated into their food as tuna is for Japanese. But of course, they have a wide variety of other dishes to choose from as well, including dim sum, roasted duck, braised goosefeet in a clay pot, steamed crab with glass noodles and other seafood dishes. For those who like oyster omelets (aw suan), which I do, they have that as well, served on a sizzling iron platter. They also have set menus that brings down the price of your meal. But as shark fin soup was part of the set menu it wasn’t an option for me. Dim sum is by the way quite popular and tends to run out in the early evening.
The kitchen is outside, so you can see what is being prepared. Moving inside, the environment is a bit sterile and the waitresses, sometimes a bit brusque, reminds more of old time nurses then waitresses. But that’s not to be hold against any Thai or Chinese restaurants in Bangkok. And their average customer doesn’t really pay much attention to the interior, but on the other hand they care a lot about the quality of the food being served. Unless you’re out for a romantic evening, I tend to agree. A table, a small chair and a bowl of soup can be plentiful if just the soup is excellent.
The quality of dim sum was impressive. A very tasty starter. That said the fish soup I got in the beginning was nothing to write home about. The yellow curry with crab meat was also good and in general, my impression is that crab dishes tends to be a good choice in Bangkok, it be Chinese or Thai restaurants. The roast duck was crispy on the outside, as it should be, and tender and juicy on the inside, full of flavors. The quality is obviously varying, but that is to expect with such a wide menu. Overall they have some beautiful dishes, like the dim sum
The waitresses seems to be a bit on and off when it comes to service. And as usual in Thailand, most of the food are served at the same time, not separating between appetizers and main courses. And it want help telling them. You can accept it and enjoy the food or you can leave without sitting down, crying over the lack of principles. Sometimes there is a need for traditions to change.
Name: Hua Seng Hong (have grown into a chain with several other branches around Bangkok, also available in department stores like Central and Central World. The first store is the one in Chinatown).
Food: Teochew Chinese style. English menu for tourists. Take away is possible.
Open: Open daily 14:00-24:00. During lunch time on weekdays, office workers from the area is moving in.
Price: B30 to a lot (shark fin soup and bird nests are expensive. The famous Shark Fins start at B400, then B600/B800/B1000/B1500)
Address: 371-373 Yaowarat Rd.
How to get there: There is no Skytrain (BTS) or underground (MRT) in Chinatown, but they are building one in Charoen Krung close to Yaowarat Road. But that doesn’t really help you today, so until then, one option is to take the Metro to Hua Lamphong, 6 metro stops and 12 minutes away from MRT Sukhumvit which also interlink the BTS station Asoke (Terminal 21 shopping centre). If you take the BTS Silom line you can change at Silom and take the MRT from there, 2 stations heading west. You would prefer that to a taxi during rush hours. If taking a taxi from Hua Lamphong insist on using the meter as always.
An option is the river express (Chao Phraya River Express), if you want to avoid the traffic. Get off at the Ratchawong Pier, and walk up from Ratchawong Road to Sampeng Lane and Yaowarat Road. A third option are the buses – look for the number 1, 7, 8, 37, 49 and 75.