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.
The khao chae at Spirit Jim Thompson is one of our favorites. It’s served with Sao Hai rice, which is cultivated in Thung Kula Ronghai, and soaked in a water scented with jasmine and chomnat (bread flower).
Until 15 June, Spirit Jim Thompson, Soi Somkid, 0 2612 3601. B950
Why not enjoy the novelty of eating traditional Thai khao chae in an elegant Japanese-style setting?
Until 30 April, Up & Above at Okura Prestige, 0 2687 9000. B990 (dine-in) and B1,250 (takeaway)
This unpretentious establishment has been serving delicious khao chae for 40 years. Theirs is one of the cheapest in Bangkok.
Until 30 June, Sa-nguan Sri, Wireless Road, 0 2251 9378. B240
The Sukhothai Bangkok’s Thai dining room serves khao chae with plango in a scented syrup for dessert.
Until 30 April, Celadon at The Sukhothai Bangkok, Sathorn Road, 0 2344 8888. B990
Photo credit: https://www.instagram.com/p/BRzvjXRBAXw/?
This old-school eatery serves khao chae that’s whipped up following the recipe of the Sukhothai Palace. This version is known for beautiful presentation of egg-wrapped bell pepper stuffed with pork.
Available all year, Thanying, Pramuan Road, 0 2236 4361. B354
The most budget-friendly khao chae that’s served in a luxurious hotel, this dish is made Ratchaburistyle (the rice is smoked with a scented candle, and the water is scented with five different kinds of flowers). The set also comes with watermelon with sundried fish (another summer dish) and rose-flavored Italian soda. Khao chae will also be part of the buffet spread at the hotel’s all-day restaurant, Goji.
Until 31 May, Siam Tea Room at Bangkok Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park, Soi Sukhumvit 22, 0 059 5555. B490
Open for only three months a year, Pathum Saras, the restaurant in Sra Pathum Palace serves khao chae adapted from the recipe of Princess Suddhasininat Piyamaharaj Padivaradd, one of the consorts of King Chulalongkorn. Only 30 sets are served each day.
Until 30 June, Pathum Saras, Sra Pathum Palace, Rama 1 Road, 0 2252 1965. B400