The Thai Meteorological Department has just announced that Thailand was moving into the summer season. Cringe. A moment while we whack our heads against the wall and start putting aside money to pay for our soon-to-become-exorbitant electricity bills. Foodies, however, see this season as the chance to feast on their favorite Thai summer dish, khao chae.
Khao chae is a traditional Thai dish usually served during the hot summer months. Refashioned from a Mon dish a few hundred years ago, khao chae is steamed rice soaked in jasmine-scented water and served with mix-ins such as luk krapi (deep-fried shrimp paste balls), hom daeng yud sai (deep-fried shallots and shredded pork), prik yuak sod sai (egg-wrapped steamed green chili stuffed with minced pork) and moo foi (sweet shredded pork). The more toppings added, the merrier. Khao chae was, in the past, eaten only in the royal court and at the homes of the affluent because it required fine ingredients, culinary craft and a lot of time. Today, however, khao chae has become more common and is offered at many restaurants around town.
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Why go? For almost 40 years, Sa-nguan Sri has been serving delicious Thai fare, and is particularly known for their khao chae during the summer season. The rice treat here is good and cheap. The best deal, we would say.
B240/set. Ongoing until June, 10.00-15.00. 59/1 Wittayu Road, 02 251 9378.
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Why go? This royal Thai restaurant offers authentic recipes inherited from the kitchens of Sukhothai Palace. The chef also makes the most beautiful prik yuak sod sai you’ll ever see. Advance reservation is needed as they need time to create a menu.
B354/set. Ongoing, 11:30-15:00.Silom Rd, Silom, Bang Rak, 02 236 4361.
Why go? A traditional khao chae set prepared by chef Warinthorn Sumrithphon is served with six traditional side dishes, including hua pak kard warn (sweet dried turnips) and pla yie sok (sweet shredded fish).
B780++/set. 1-29 Apr, Mon-Sat 11.30-14.30. Anantara Siam Bangkok Hotel, Ratchadamri Road, 02 126 8866. www.siam-bangkok.anantara.com
Why go? They have what’s probably the most innovative khao chae we’ve even seen. Chef Thitid “Ton” Tassanakajohn recreates traditional khao chae into ice cream. The classic mix-ins are still present.
B450/set. Mon-Sat 06:00-22:30. 399/3 Soi Silom 5, Silom, Bang Rak, 092 919 9969. www.ledubkk.com
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Why go? Any khao chae lover wouldn’t want to miss the offering at this dining institution. The summer delicacy is served in the restaurant’s all-you-can-eat Thai buffet.
Take away B450/small set, B690/large set. Lunch buffet B900++/person on Mon-Fri, B1100++/person on Sat-Sun. 1-30 Apr, 12.00-14.30. Mandarin Oriental Bangkok, 48 Oriental Avenue, Soi Charoenkrung 40, 02 659 9000. www.mandarinoriental.com/bangkok
Ruern Boossaba x Khao
Why order? Made-to-order khao chae gift sets created by famous floral shop Ruern Boossaba and Thai restuarant Khao. Each set comes complete with a flower bouquet, wooden plate, and a set of khao chae. Reservations should be made two days in advance. Eat-in options are not available.
B3,500/set, exclusive of delivery fee. 20 Mar – 12 Apr, 18 – 30 Apr. For reservations, please call 02 662 4788 or line ID: @rbbflowershop
Why go? The khao chae here follows a traditional recipe. The luk krapi is worth looking into. Instead of only using shrimp paste as in other places, Kalpapruek reinvents the dish with a mix of snakehead fish, palm sugar and shrimp paste.
B320/set. Until-30 Apr. Mon-Sat 09:00-18:00 Sun 09:00-15:00. 27 Phramuan Road, Silom, Bangrak, 02 238 4002
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Why go? Traditional khao chae cooked from a family recipe. Only 10 sets a day are available. Advanced reservation recommended.
B320/set. Until the end of summer, 10.00-19.00. Soi Areesamphan 1, Samsennai, 02 619 9952
Why go? "Buffet khao chae Miss Siam" is one of the best deal to really get the taste of the summer treat. Don't miss it, you don't have all year long for this. Moreover, there are other Thai sweet treats to satisfy your taste buds too.
Buffet B450/person, 1 March - 30 April, 11.30-14.30
Hua Chang Heritage Hotel, Phayathai Road. 0 2217 0777. http://www.huachangheritagehotel.com