Banglamphu is historic ground in Bangkok. The first palace in Banglamphu belonged to the former Princess Chakjesda. What’s left of it stands on Phra Sumen road, a short walk away from the backpacker area Khao San Road. The area is vibrant and has good number of quality eats. Nay Soi is one of them, serving delicious beef noodles with shopped water morning glory.
Nai Soi have a reputation to protect. Something you get after 40 years of hard work, serving quality in every bowl every day of the week. And the list of regulars gets longer and longer. The reason is simple: They know what they get here, like I do after four or five visits over the years. And it hasn’t change a toddle in those years.
Beef noodles is a hard competition, but I don’t know any vendor in the area that beats Nai Soi. The braised meat is tender and of good quality, but you can still feel the texture. A good thing. The broth has clear flavors from star anise and cinnamon, but with a lighter presence than the one you get for example at Wattana Panich in the Ekkamai area. Less influence from the star anise and the cinnamon also means a more beefy flavor than it Wattana.
The broth is rich, without being to oily or fatty as you get it many places. The broth also has a small amount of blood, a necessity in my view when making beef noodles. The bowl include a fair amount of shopped water morning glory (Chinese celery), one of my favorite greens when it comes to Thai food. The bean sprout is a standard feature in the dish, but more importantly, the noodles are made to perfection, slightly chewy and comparable to al dente for spaghetti. No sign of sogginess (noodles cooked to long and start to swell in the hot broth). I prefer the sen lek (thin) rice noodles, but they also have sen yai (wide rice noodles). You can also have the option of adding beef balls (look chin neua) to your soup, as well as offals (intestines). The standard condiments are on the table. I like to add a spoon of chili flakes and also a dash of vinegar (with chili). Every person have their own preferences here, so better taste before start adding.
For beverages they have pickled plum juice (nam buai) and Chinese-style iced coffee (o-lieang) in addition to a wide range of soft drinks. Thai ice-tea and beer is also on the menu. The free version is the pot of iced chrysanthemum tea standing on every table – ice is two baht a glass.
The food at Nai Soi is definitively made with love. Occationally they also serve a beef salad. The shophouse is of the more spacious one. A concrete floor with wobbly metal tables and plastic stools. The front is open towards the street. The walls are covered with ceramic tiles, making it easy to keep clean. The ambience is a little bit olds style, even if it lack the classic wooden interior and furnutures.
To sum up, it’s one of my favorite eating options in the area when craving for noodle soup. Another favorite is Khun Dang Guay Jub Yuan when I’m craving for pork noodles a few houses further down the road.
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Address: 100/2-3 Phra Arthit Road
How to get there: Nai Soi is situated on the northeast end of Phra Athit Road, right across the street from Santichaiprakan Park and Phra Sumen Fort. From the Phra Arthit express boat pier, head straight out of the pier, cross Phra Athit Road, take a left, and the restaurant is a short way down on the right. From Khao San, walk all the way northwest on Soi Rambutri until you hit Phra Athit Road, then take a right, and the restaurant will be a short walk away on the right.
Pom Phra Sumen Fort
The Phra Sumen Fort was built in 1783 to defend against potential naval invasions and named for the mythical Mt Meru (Phra Sumen in Thai) of Hindu-Buddhist cosmology. The octagonal brick-and-stucco bunker was one of 14 city watchtowers along the old city wall alongside Khlong Rop Krung. Apart from Mahakan Fort, this is the only one still standing. When the fort was renovated a few years ago, items found inside were collected and displayed in a museum on the top floor. Alongside the fort and fronting the river is a small, grassy park with an open-air pavilion where you have a river view and cool breezes.
Open: Monday-Friday 5 am to 10 pm, Saturday-Sunday 7 am-10 pm
The Banglamhu area
The first palace in Bang Lamphu belonged to Princess Chakjesda, sister of Rama I’s Crown Prince Phrarajwang Bavorn Sathan Mongkol. Today, only a small part of the wall has survived the modernization. It stands on Phra Sumen road, opposite to Phra Sumen Fort.
So as you might understand the Banglamphu area and the Phra Arthit Road is part of a history dating back more then 2 centuries, a time when Bangkok was selected to be the next capital of the Siamese Kingdom. You find old classic buildings in a colonial style coexist with more modern and westernized shops. Next to the fort on the eastern side is Wat Sangvej Printing School. This century-old building is where they produced the early editions of textbooks in Thailand. Behind this building is the quiet Klong Bang Lamphu (Bang Lamphu Canal) which is a good place to relax. The canal was dug during the reign of King Rama I in the year 1782 by 10,000 Khmer labourers. Pridi Phanomyong, Thailand’s stateman, once cruised along this canal and distributed his leaflets on politics that led to major political changes later on. Klong Bang Lamphu has many names according to different communities by the canal. It was called Klong Ong Ang (jar canal) by the jar producing community around the Internal Affairs Ministry. It was also called Klong Sapan Han, Klong Wat Cherng Lane, and Klong Pom (Fort Canal) when it ran around Phra Sumen Fort.
In the past it was believed that the area were covered with the Lamphu tree, hence it was called Bang Lamphu. The Lamphu tree had long disappeared from the minds of local people until they found it again in 1997. This big tree is believed to be more than 100 years old. The Lamphu tree has vertical roots that grow towards the sky and is growing on swamp land. It’s also a tree which fireflies gathers on.