Thais are very proud of their country and equally proud of their cuisine as they should be. A source of particular pride is a capacity for eating really spicy food. I've had many Thai friends ask me over the years "Can you eat spicy food?"
The answer is not quite so simple. I can, of course eat spicy food and I do enjoy it but there are some dishes that are WAY above my SPICY rating and a few of the dishes from Baan Issan Mueng Yot take it to the next level - so hot even Thai's can barely handle it.
Living in downtown Bangkok I'm spoiled for choice when it come to food. It was however, my lovely wife who turned me onto this little Isan restaurant tucked away in Sukhumvit Soi 31 in the Asoke area of Bangkok. They don't have a website but the restaurant is about 500 meters straight down Sukhumvit Soi 31 on the left. If you reach Peppina restaurant on the right you have gone too far.
Image credit Livedoor Blog
Sounds quaint and local, right? Well it is... and very Issan! Issan is located in the northeastern part of Thailand and is in fact the most highly populated area in the country. This area alone is where mots of the world's rice comes from. Issan food is extremely popular across thailand due in part to all the Issan folks who travel from the area for work but is also becoming a fast favorite of adventurous tourists as well.
Image Credit Daily Mail UK
While not mainstream Thai food if you have eaten in a Thai restaurant you may have had Isan food and not known it. Some of the more popular dishes include Papaya Salad (Som Tum), Sticky Rice (Khao Niew), Ground meat, and nam tok (Larb Nam Tok), which is made with sliced grilled meat, are similar in that they share the same sauce: a mixture of lime juice, fish sauce, herbs and spices and crunchy roasted rice, Grilled Chicken (Gai Tod), and Skewered Marinated Pork (Moo Bing) to name just a few.
Whilst the food is amazing a word to the wise about Baan Issan Mueng Yot. Do not expect 5 star treatment. This place is all about the food. It takes a while to make really good Isan food and the folks at Bann Isan Mueng Yot will not be rushed. Think of it as part of the experience and just relax with a Singha beer as your food slowly arrives one tantalizing dish at a time and you will be just fine. If you go there expecting all your food to arrive together with a smile from an attentive server - don't - just don't go- you won't like it. If however you can adopt the Thai attitude of Mai Ben Rai ( loosely translated as it's all good) - then go and be amazed by incredible food.
While I have visited many times, we ordered in this past Monday and as an extension of the restaurant itself the delivery service was slow (over a hour) - the driver was a bit blunt and had to call 3 times before he found our condo - I could have walked there in 10 minutes! - no kidding.
But that anticipation only made the food all the better. Here's what we had:
Fresh Grilled Prawns with a very spicy Thai dip
Two different types of Som Tum (Papaya Salad) - One with fermented fish and one with blue crab - These were the spiciest of the bunch! Too hot for me!
No Issan meal would be complete without a soup or two. We tried the Roast Chicken with Thai peppers and herbs - spicy but delicious and Spicy Tom Sabb Moo (a spicy sour pork soup) - just great!
Sticky rice wrapped in lotus leaves, home made Thai vermicelli rice noodles and grilled pork neck that absolutely melts in your mouth rounded out our selection.
Ban Issan Mueng Rot is not for everyone but everyone should try it at least once when if visiting Bangkok to sample truly authentic Isan cuisine. The Thaifoodiesco team highly recommends the trip if you really can eat spicy food - Good Luck!
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