After circumnavigating the outer perimeter of Nang Leong market, I chose my path to my next destination, the well reviewed Thai restuarant, Chote Chitr. Based on reviews, it was a short walk from the Democracy Monument, along Thanon Tanao. My walk led me past the Democracy Monument and along a road that hosted a lot of lottery ticket vendors. Quite curious how they work, which as a non-Thai speaker leaves me with endless questions. Why are they all clustered like that along a three block radius? And why do they sell the tickets at different prices? Or were they the winnings?
Passing the landmark and turning left on Tanao, the street turns into a mix of small commercial offices and a few parks. I started to wonder where the small alley of Phraeng Puthon was located, asked a few store owners and was told to keep going. I did see a sign that pointed more to the left than straight ahead but my gut instinct led me straight down the road until another query to a lady in an old shoe shop showed me I wasn't more than a few meters from my destination.
Chote Chitr's been written up in many online posts and reviewed by food critics. What I found true of all the write ups is the simplicity of the place, which hasn't expanded beyond the 6 or 7 tables it has had for probably a generation or two; the presence of the owner's dogs, two shitzus and a chihuahua (who was the real boss of the place, making sure the younger dogs kept to their side of the restaurant several times); and the food! Instead of going through the menu, the owner, Tim Krachoichuli, asked if I would like to try the daily special, a steamed fish curry in pandan leaves, and suggested the famous banana leaf salad. I was happy to let her choose what I'd have. Both dishes were marvelous! The first bite of the fish curry was intense, a red curry with fish and lemongrass and basil. There were three pandan cups of the curry, with cucumbers and tomato slices to cool the tongue. It wasn't fiery, but flavorful. Yes, I was sweating like mad, but I didn't feel uncomfortable with the heat of the curry. The steamed custards are the perfect portion for one person, but wait, there was the salad coming up!
The banana blossoms salad is more like a stirfry with shrimp, chicken and julienned banana blossoms. Non-asians might wonder what exactly a banana blossom is, but we do use it in all sorts of dishes. Locally we cook it with coconut milk and langka, or add it to kare kare. The dish at CC was cooked with fresh banana blossoms, on the verge of crispy, sauced with spices, and the meat. It tasted fresh and relatively light. As it's one of the restaurant's signature dishes, definitely ask for it when you're there. Ms. Krachoichuli suggested I come back for their crispy noodle dish, and if I'm back in Bangkok, I'll make sure to bring friends there to see if their more attuned Thai taste buds agree with me.
Chote Chitr — 146 Soi Phraeng Phuton, a ten minute walk from the Democracy Monument, Bangkok.