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A pop art portrait of the owner's mother, a former Miss Trat beauty queen

It is fair to say that while the cuisines of the north, northeastern, central and southern regions of Thailand are widely known to appreciative foodies, the distinctive fare of the country’s eastern region is something of an enigma. Hence, dining at the rustic-chic Sri Trat restaurant makes for a refreshing experience.

As its name suggests, the restaurant is a proponent of the food from the city and province of the same name. Wongwich Sripinyoo, a son of Trat, established the outlet in February 2017 to serve home-style dishes featuring produce unique to his place of origin—particularly seafood and lesser known fruits, vegetables and distinctive herbs such as Thai cardamom and bitter but aromatic chamuang leaves. The majority of the menu items derive from recipes cooked by Wongwich’s mother, a former Miss Trat beauty queen and doyen of the province’s culinary oeuvre. She is a regular at the restaurant, keeping a keen eye on the kitchen, giving instructions where needed and ensuring authenticity is maintained.  

“Trat cooking is all about seafood and the fruits and herbs of the forest,” explains the genial Wongwich. “Basically, we cook Thai food for Thai people. We are sure that if they like it, so will Westerners. We never compromise on taste because authenticity is very important but people need to be open to it, to the flavours and cooking style.”

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Zesty barracuda salad with peanut brittle sauce

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Chicken massaman with pieces of durian

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A side of green beans with spicy chilli fish paste

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Mud crab and pumpkin curry enriched with crab roe and coconut milk

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Tender pork neck with green curry chilli paste

From the sea are dishes such as barracuda salad, the fish prepared ceviche-style in a light vinegar cure. It is bright and zesty with a great citrus finish and works really well with the accompanying peanut brittle sauce. Also good is mud crab and pumpkin curry. Slightly sweet, it is enriched and thickened with crab roe and coconut milk and is best described as a Trat comfort food.          
Stand-out dishes representing the forest element of the menu include a moreish chicken massaman curry in which potato is replaced with pieces of young durian (which grows in abundance in Trat), and a spicy stir-fried offering of chicken with Thai cardamom. Also be sure to try the wonderfully rendered slow-cooked pork belly stew in a rich sweetish sauce offset by the mildly bitter tanginess of the aforementioned chamuang leaves. Another pork dish worth mentioning is tender slices of pork neck with a green curry-style chilli paste. In fact, Trat is famous for its fish and crab-based chilli dips, which are a gentle complement to other ingredients rather than the sometimes-overpowering element found in other regional Thai cuisines.

In terms of a sweet ending, recommended for two is the assorted dessert platter with bite-sized dumplings stuffed with various sugary bean pastes. These are designed to be enjoyed with an accompanying coconut syrup. Do also try one of the signature cocktails infused with local herbs and spices, either as an aperitif or as a post-meal digestive.

In fact, Sri Trat has a very well stocked bar with a particularly good selection of single malt whiskies and on most evenings there will be a handful of patrons in attendance just for drinks. The bar itself acts as a kind of reception area for the main dining room where a corner is given over to the display and sale of artisanal products from Trat. The restaurant’s interiors are comfortably appointed and reminiscent of a traditional Thai home with deep blue-green walls, lots of dark wood panelling and a profusion of red roses (the favourite flower of Wongwich’s mother). The overall experience here is one of relaxed enjoyment. It is a fine introduction to the unique cuisine of Trat province. Just be sure to book in advance because the restaurant is busy almost every evening, weekdays included.

Sri Trat
90 Sukhumvit Soi 33
Open Wed-Mon noon-3pm, 6-11pm

Tags: Sri Trat, Thai cuisine, Thai food, Eastern Thai, Eastern Thai cuisine