Bangkok is a city concentrated with cuisine from all over Thailand. Some of them have taken root and become crowd favourites.

Lay Lao at Soi Ari is one of them, repping North-Eastern Thai cuisine, and bringing the best of the region to the central of Bangkok.

More specifically, Lay Lao does Isaan food, which is influenced by the cuisine from the neighbouring Laos and Cambodia.

Think char-grilled or roasted seafood, and the use of fish sauce in every recipe.

Talking about the seafood, they are freshly caught and delivered from Hua Hin, a coastal town just a few hours away.

It is also where the owner is from, so the restaurant has a good affinity with high quality seafood from the very beginning.

The restaurant was started in 2014, and it has already accumulated a number of Michelin Bib Gourmands since 2018.

Getting to this eatery is not that difficult, a short walk from Ari BTS station (just 5 stations from Siam).

The ambience in the air-conditioned restaurant was cosy and homely, with rattan chairs and wood panels, corrugated steel walls decorated with colourful paintings.

Signature dishes include the Somtam (195 THB), Deep-fried Squid (265 THB), Deep-fried Oyster Mushroom (125 THB), Mixed Steamed Riced with Crab Meat (395 THB), Green Mango Salad with Raw Blue Crab (375 THB), and Charcoal Grilled Pork Shoulder (165 THB).

The signature dish begins with one of their renowned Som Tam or Green Papaya Salad. There are a few renditions offered here (I counted seven!), with one coming with raw black crab and crab roe.

My Thai friend picked the Pomelo Salad (135 THB) with prepared with sun-dried shrimps and a blend of chilli, fish sauce and shrimp paste.

This was refreshing and tangy, and could prove to be very spicy for some (I thought the spiciness level was just right for this dish).

The one dish that left the deepest impression was the Deep-fried Squid (265 THB), featuring squid stuffed with squid eggs from Hua Hin, then deep-fried till crispy.

Surprisingly, the texture of the squid was soft and didn’t have that strong chewiness.

You can eat it on its own, though it is best to dip into the specially made sauce with sweet and sour notes.

Something homely would be the Hua Hin-style Sour Soup (295 THB), which is done according to the owner’s family recipe. With shrimp paste as the base, the soup is decadently sour yet rich, with slices of sea bass picking up the flavour of the soup.

Another dish done well was the Charcoal Grill Pork Shoulder (165 THB) which was grilled without being overly charred, meat so tender and soft, with dipping sauce made fresh every day.

Worthy to note is their Butterfly Pea Juice Drink (65 THB). You may have come across similar versions in many modern Thai restaurants.

Lay Lao’s Anchan Manoa comes with honey and lemon – not unusual, but all the butterfly pea flower used are grown by them to ensure that they are chemical free.

You could say that the food at Lay Lao speaks for itself, serving homely food with a taste of Hua Hin without the need to travel there.

Lay Lao
65 Phahon Yothin 7 Alley, Samsen Nai, Phaya Thai, Bangkok 10400, Thailand
Opening Hours: 10:30am – 9:30pm (Mon – Sun)

Google Maps – Lay Lao

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* Written by Daniel Ang @DanielFoodDiary, Dean Ang, with additional photos from Lewis Tan @juicyfingers. DFD paid for food reviewed unless otherwise stated.

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