The Michelin guide offer three stars to restaurants worth a deviation of your route just to eat there. It’s normally a fantastic feast. And it cost you some hundred Euros. It’s the same with P’Aor, with one exception. It’s worth a deviation of your route, but it only costs you around 3 Euro for a three course meal.
It’s a feast. Every time it seems. I ate at P’Aor on my first visit to Bangkok some years ago. I was strolling the streets of Bangkok with no specific purpose and felt hungry at some point. It was a lucky drop inn. It was an eye-opener of a meal. At that time, I didn’t have a clue about where I was geographically. And as a new timer in a city with 15 million inhabitants I was never able to find my way back when I understood what a pearl it was. Until now, many years later. Again accidentally.
The first thing to do when seated in this busy and lively shop house of P’Aor is to order an iced lime tea (cha manao) to take care of your thirst. It’s slightly sweet and bitter and makes a beautiful pairing with the food you will order.
From here on, a heaping pile of what locals names “man boo”, known in English as the buttery oil and goop from the head of the crab, will be part of your meal. It might not sound like you’re preferred dining experience, but it’s for sure what your taste buds want.
P’Aor uses the same soup basis for fish, scampi or squid, so you just need to decide on what you want as the main ingredient. Personally I prefer scampi or white fish. They might give you salmon, and I presume it depends on what fresh fish they have at the moment.
This is where I fell in love, already with the first spoon of the local tom yam soup. As always with soups, the first spoon always goes for the broth. I had ordered the noodle soup with fish (Kuay Teow Tom Yam Phla Nam Khon), and a supreme acidity added to a creamy and silky texture you don’t experience too often, instantly made my taste buds defenseless.
And yes, this is where the man boo comes in play. That creamy texture is derived from cooking the crab heads, dissolving all the fat inside. And as we all know, fat binds taste. That is also what’s added a certain magic to the dish. I’m sure you will smile like you are all alone when you’re seated with such a wonderful bowl of Tom Yam Plah in front of you. And it isn’t spicy either, so just dig in. Another good thing is that they have taken out all the galangal and lemon grass from the soup so you can just start to shuffle in right away.
Tasting it, I am again reminded of my skillful mum who always told me to suck the shrimps head when we had our summer parties with seafood. Again, it’s were most of the flavors are. So if you ever again question why those purified shrimps in the supermarket tastes second to nothing, you found part of the answer. The second part is of course that P’Aor uses fresh ingredients all the way. No short cuts here.
And I have to admit that I went to test P’Aor twice with four days in between, as I was so extremely positive after my first visit. I wanted to be sure, do they really deliver or was it a lucky visit again. But they didn’t disappoint on my second visit either. This time I took the shrimp version instead of the Fish version. Noodles with Tom Yam Kung (or with fish for that matter) is quite a rare finding, even in Bangkok. Most of the time you order Tom Yam Phla/Kung you will be asked if you want a portion of rice on the side. It can take years between every time you discover a vendor with the noodle version served at P’Aor.
I can easily understand why P’Aor is an acclaimed restaurant for Thai food in Bangkok by locals, especially for its Tom Yam, and you will see groups of people limit themselves to just a big bowl of Tom yam Kung.
The chicken with egg noodles (Ba Mee Yok Gai Ob) is colored by green kale. The dish comes with bean sprouts, spring onion and some other herbs. It is all flavored with a reduction of oyster sauce and a clear hint of honey that adds a little sweetness into the dish. A very pleasant dish and the chicken is juicy and the noodles are firm and not soggy. Definitive one of the dishes you should order.
P’Aor has a pleasant atmosphere. Their awards and trophies are decorated throughout the dining room, and the interior is wooden tables and benches instead of the usual metal tables with plastic chairs. P’Aor is recognized and acclaimed by the Thai community, as you will see from the articles and photos from different Thai media on the wall. The owner has also participated in Food programs on TV.
But even if the main dishes seems to be fish and seafood oriented, they have several meat options, salads and vegetarian options that is worth testing out. A very delicate dish was shrimp dumplings with green noodles colored from kale (and probably some additives – by all meanings, we are in Thailand). The only dish out of the eight dishes tested over the two visits which wasn’t anything to write home about was a spicy squid salad, which lacked balance between acidity and spiciness. That said, the two visits gave me a very certain confirmation that P’Aor is one of the better restaurant you’ll find in Bangkok. They operate in their own league when it comes to noodles soups with fish or shrimps (Kuay Teow Tom Yam Phla Nam Khon).
See also my article on Petchaburi Soi 5.
Food: An extensive selection of Thai food, including fish and seafood, different meat dishes and vegetarian dishes.
Open: Tue – Sun 10am – 10pm (closed Monday)
Price: B120 for Tom Yam Phla, Ba Mee Yok Gai Ob and a glass of green tea (orange) on my first visit. On my second visit the three of us payed B630 for seven dishes and 3 ice tea (cha manao).
Address: 68/51 Soi Petchaburi 5. This is not in Soi 5 itself, but between Petchaburi Soi 5 and 7.
How to get there: Take BTS to Ratchathewi station. Take exit 1 and walk towards Victory Monument (North) until you get to Petchaburi Road (first to the left) where you take to the left and cross the street under the bridge to the other side. Walk about 200 meters and take to the right in Soi 7. Walk about 200 meters down Soi 7, pass the small narrow alley to the left and then take the first road to the left. This is the small street that connects Soi 5 and Soi 7. You find P’Aor in the middle of this street on your right side (number 68/51) coming from Soi 7. If you come from Soi 5, you skip the narrow alley to the right, continue for another 20 meters and then take the first road to the right and you find the restaurant on your left side.