Ban Chiang – Hidden culinary gem or tourist trap?

Ban Chiang
Ban Chiang

Through rain, traffic and a flurry of office conversation, we arrived at Ban Chiang, traditional Thai cuisine restaurant, crammed in a company car.  I was totally disoriented, because I felt that my co-worker was giving confusing directions to the driver. I had no idea where we were, but my work mates kept saying it was in Silom.

I thought this was a strange part of Silom. I have never been here before. Not that I have been to every corner of Silom  – or even want to go – but I am usually pretty good with directions and it did not feel like Silom.

Ban Chiang  is an old traditional Thai house with several rooms turned into dining rooms. We were a group of maybe seven or eight  people and were led through the house to be seated in a private room. From a small corridor stairs led upstairs, on the few walls were some Thai paintings, but most of the walls were windows. The atmosphere is airy and as you see out in the lush garden, it is almost difficult to imagine that you are in the middle of a 12-million people city.

Ban Chiang inside
Ban Chiang inside
chicken in leaves
Fried chicken in leaves

The Thai people in our group ordered the food for everyone which is always the best way to do. Not only will you be sure to have a balanced meal, but most often I get to try something that I have not tasted before (or didn’t even know it existed). In this case, it was chicken wrapped in pandan leaves.

However, I made the fatal mistake that I didn’t take any pictures of our great meal. I am still not 100% Thai yet….working on it…;-) It was beautifully presented and tasted great.

When I was looking up Ban Chiang for this post, I came across several comments that the food was bland (I did not have this experience), that it was not spicy (I thought maybe they did not order spicy), that the restaurant only caters to foreigners (we had Thai people in the group, so I didn’t pay any attention to that, and it was recommended by Thais), and that it was way too expensive for what you receive (I cannot comment on that, because it was a company lunch and our bosses paid for it).

On the way out, I again tried to figure out where we were…and when the driver turned the corner, we came out right next to Surasak BTS station which is about five minutes from my home. I dawned on me that I had walked past this restaurant several times, but never went inside.

Maybe a good place to try again with my next foreign friends coming to visit.

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