[Bangkok] Sanguan Sri (pronounced minus the “r”) is an unassuming hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant along Phloen Chit Road in Bangkok that has stood the test of time.
It has been in business since 1970 (older than many of us), remaining classic for almost half a century while the area around has developed.
In an area of Bangkok now dominated by malls, hotels, and embassies, Sanguan Sri is a quite a find for old-school Bangkok Thai food.
Hidden among the modern high-rise buildings and shopping centres, this eatery is so easy to miss. You could walk by it multiple times and wouldn’t even know it is a restaurant (So here’s a photo for you to see how it looks from across the road.)
Located near Lumpini Park, along with several embassies and international diners, it is commuter-friendly and just a stone’s throw away from the Phloen Chit Skytrain station.
Listed in the Michelin Guide both 2018 and 2019, it has earned the distinction of a Bib Gourmand, and Inspectors’ favourites for good value.
It was Miss Sanguansri who opened the place in 1970. When she died at nearly 100 years old with no heirs, her staff continued to run her restaurant.
A favourite of both old-school locals and Thai office workers.
The menu is in Thai, written on the white board in the front of the restaurant. If you do not speak Thai, don’t worry. The owners and staff will assist you in choosing your order.
Prices of dishes are mostly below 200 baht (SGD8.39). Portion sizes aren’t that big, so you could order a variety of dishes.
While there is a main menu offered every day, there are “Specials of the Day” with a daily featured dish to choose from.
Some popular Thai fare to try on different days include Massaman gai (มัสหมั่นไก่), a chicken curry dish. It’s often served on Mondays.
On Tuesdays, try their Kanom jeen sao nam (ขนมจีนซาวน้ำ), an old Thai dish of fermented rice noodles and coconut cream.
On Wednesdays, go for a different kind of curry called Gaeng kee lek moo yang (แกงขี้เหล็กหมูย่าง). It’s a curry made with Siamese cassia.
Thursday is Gaeng keow wan neua (แกงเขียวหวานเนื้อ) day, a Thai beef green curry much-talked about in reviews. Tender cubes of beef with Thai eggplant that melted with the coconut cream. The richness of the green curry paste includes green chillies, kaffir lime leaves, sweet basil and a hint of cumin. Priced at 100 THB (4.19 SGD) per bowl. The sweetness comes naturally from the thick coconut cream added to the dish, not by adding sugar as some other versions of this dish may be.
Fridays, you will find Gaeng phet bet yang (แกงเผ็ดเป็ดย่าง) or a red duck curry.
End your week with a Gaeng keow wan lukshin pla krai (แกงเขียวหวานลูกชิ้นปลากราย), usually available Saturdays. It is still green curry but this time with fish balls.
If you are a tourist tired of the usual commercialised restaurants, then Sanguan Sri could be your breath of fresh air.
I thought that the dishes tasted as though as what a Thai mum would cook in her kitchen. There was this simplicity in the presentation, but spices packed a packed.
Loved the Oyster Omelette (90 baht, SGD3.80) which was lightly crisp on the outside, yet filled with moist fresh-tasting oysters within.
Literally a relic from the past, its interior and exterior décor is screaming “vintage”. Since 1970, it has never been revamped.
Neither the food nor the furniture has changed. Even some of the servers have stayed for decades.
The dining room resembles a school cafeteria with long tables and mismatched blue chairs. At the back of the restaurant stands a Chinese-style round dining table. Chipped dining plates and rudimentary cutlery are all part of the experience.
It is NOT the place for polished, efficient, always-with-a-smile, customer service, but you could expect your food to be served fast except during peak hour, i.e. lunch time.
Be prepared to be ignored, to serve yourself water from the counter, or to fight for your bill.
Sanguan Sri is located near the corner of Phloen Chit Road (Sukhumvit) and Thanon Witthayu (Wireless Road). Take the Exit 5 of Phloen Chit BTS station, then turn left on Thanon Witthayu (Wireless Road). Walk for about 50 meters until you see the restaurant along the main road, next to Plaza Athenee Hotel.
There’s no English-language sign in the façade so just look for the bunker-like concrete structure.
Likewise, English-language menu is limited. Solution?
Simply point to the dishes in the menu if you can’t read nor speak Thai.
Reservation is not possible. Just walk in any time but not during peak hour lunch time of 12 to 2pm when it is mad-packed with Thai office workers from the vicinity.
Oh, and ditch the plastic. This is a cash-only eatery.
Sanguan Sri ร้านสงวนศรี
59/1 Witthayu Road, Pathum Wan, Bangkok 10330
Tel: +66 2 251 9378
Opening Hours: 10:00am – 3:00pm (Mon – Sat), Closed on Sun (Phloen Chit BTS)
Google Maps – Sanguan Sri
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