Finding a modern Thai restaurant that can live up to the authenticity and intricate flavours of the country’s cuisine is a rarity these days. Against the recent crop of Thai restaurants that appear to cater more to the Western palate is Sri Trat. What makes this hidden gem at the end of Sukhumvit 33 even more interesting is its choice to bring Eastern Thai food to the forefront, a less common taste compared to the more popular Northeastern (Isaan) and Southern dishes known to locals and foreigners.
The décor is a contemporary revision of Thailand’s up-country homes with its turquoise walls, contrasting red chairs, and exposed brick. There is a hint of Chinois-Portuguese accented throughout the restaurant with hand-drawn roses on the paved floor, giving the atmosphere a certain retro vibrancy that balances out the rustic interior. A vintage mural of a Thai beauty queen, who was later revealed to be the owner’s mother, painted across one of the walls in the dining area guarantees to satiate foodstagram lovers’ appetite for a new post.
The menu carries recipes from the owner’s mother, a Trat province native, staying true to the local taste with a touch of refinement through carefully chosen ingredients. The owner, Wongwich Sripinyoo, explained that the restaurant strictly adheres to the no MSG rule and only uses natural ingredients. The items are intended to be eaten family-style and each portion is moderately sized for that. For appetisers, start with the Thai herbal salad with ceviche style barracuda pieces lightly tossed in vinegar. The star of the dish is the accompanying sauce made with caramelised peanut, helping to underscore the main citrus taste with a little sweetness and a crunch to bite. The grilled tiger prawns topped with house-made seafood sauce comes in a generous serving.
Another staple to spice up the selection is the Thai ‘kapi’ chilli dip served with a basket of vegetables. The paste is freshly transported from Trat and has a unique tang from the salacca fruit in the mix, which pairs well with the sweet prawns on the side. The herbal chicken soup, which uses Siam cardamom as one of its key spices, works up an appetite with just the aroma. It is a healthy option packed with complex flavours of salty, sweet, and sour in one. The stir fried crab meat with yellow chilli and bean stalks packs a punch in spiciness level.
To go along with the menu, the Thai-inspired cocktails at Sri Trat are specially crafted by the team behind the Thong Lor hot spot, Backstage Cocktail Bar. Make sure you ask for recommendations as some dishes go well with certain cocktails than others. As it is a rather new opening, be sure to book well in advance to avoid the crowd rush.
Sri Trat, 90 Sukhumvit 33, Khlong Tan Nuea, Watthana, Bangkok 10110; tel: 02-088-0968; www.sritrat.com