Unfortunately by the time I realised I was falling in love with Supanniga Eating Room, my article of 2012's top 12 restaurants had been done. Otherwise, this two-month-old eatery would have absolutely been included as one of last year's most impressive dozen, adding to Bangkok's ever-evolving gastronomic scene yet another admirable Thai restaurant that's not to be missed this year.
Humbly occupying a one-unit shophouse, the three-storey eating room is charmingly set to offer a sunny, comfortable dining mood lulled by bossa nova-lounge tunes.
Despite its very young stage and chic location, I cannot exactly say either that it's a new discovery or that it's a typical Thong Lor-style establishment.
Though well decorated, the "eating room" humbly occupies a one-unit shophouse along side some nondescript shops and seems to have been very popular from the first day it opened. Six people I met at different occasions over the past few weeks (two hoteliers, a food blogger, a music buff, a fashion editor and an aristocrat from Chiang Mai) have sworn by the well-executed cuisine this small restaurant has on offer.
I was glad I had previously booked a table for two for a Wednesday lunch. The limited space of the ground floor dining chamber became packed shortly after 11.30am. Casually enjoying the sunny, comfortable setting of the restaurant and lulled by bossa nova-lounge tunes were local families, office workers, celebrities and Japanese housewives.
Kaeng moo chamuang , a signature dish of the east coast features stew of pork meat and chamuang leaves.
The restaurant is a culinary offshoot of Supanniga Home, a four-year-old boutique hotel in Khon Kaen province. Its "by Khun Yai" appendix indicates that the cuisine is prepared to recipes of the owner's grandmother, a native of the eastern province of Trat.
So instead of focusing on Khon Kaen-styled Isan cookery, the eating room highlights the tropical cuisine of Trat. Dishes are prepared in home-cooked style with well-treasured ingredients from the east coast including fine fish sauce, dry shrimp, shrimp paste, fresh fruits and vegetables.
The first dish to arrive our table was pu ja, literally meaning "dear crab" but culinary referring to Thai-style crab cake (230 baht for a three-piece order).
Crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside, the golden-brown crab cake served in a shell had been steamed before being deep-fried. The tasty mixture made with crabmeat and pork was well seasoned and fragranced, but not overwhelmed, with white pepper, a famous product of the East, and delightful with or without the chillie sauce offered on the side.
Next up, yum neua lai, or the sour and spicy salad of sliced marbled beef shank (150 baht). A generous portion of thoroughly cooked but very succulent beef slices were tossed in lime juice, fish sauce, salty preserved cabbaged, chillies, Chinese celery and crispy garlic, providing a powerful taste that's great for an appetiser as well as a side dish to eat with rice.
You can't miss the restaurant's best-selling kaeng moo chamuang (170 baht) or pork meat stewed with chamuang leaves.
This signature dish of the east coast featured chunks of succulent pork collar in a brown broth that's clear in consistency but subtly rich in flavour. Lending a pleasant tart zest and awesome texture to the sour, salty and spicy pork stew were young chamuang leaves that had been simmered until soft. The stew was enjoyable with rice, yet I'm sure this Thai dish would go perfectly with bread.
Thai-style crab cake made with crabmeat and pork well seasoned and fragranced with white pepper.
Another one of my favourites that day was fried Chinese cabbage gravied with fish sauce (120 baht). Seemingly simple from the name, the preparation and the presentation, the salty-flavoured dish basically presented nothing but cabbage _ whole, beautiful leaves that yielded a nice crunch _ and premium fish sauce graced with wok-burnt aroma.
We also loved nam phrik khai pu, a spicy dip of seawater crab eggs and crabmeat (190 baht). Unlike the typical version served at other restaurants, the dip here was made without the shrimp paste. So the colour was light and blonde and not reddish brown, while the texture was liquid rather than gritty. Enjoyed with an assortment of fresh vegetables, the dip offered a tangy first note, followed by a salty second note and finished with a little spiciness.
For a personal dish, a service staff recommended the spicy fried rice with crispy leaf fish (160 baht). It presented slightly sweet and spicy fried rice tossed with the deep-fried freshwater fish. The fried rice was given a refreshing touch by a crunchy pineapple stick while the sweetness of the dish got a nice break from the salty egg.
There were four dessert options that day. We passed over Thai tea panna cotta and tiramisu and went for real local treats: lamood sai yenlee (120 baht for eight pieces) and bua loy benjarong khai khem (90 baht).
The first featured nicely carved and freshly ripened lamood (sapodilla) stuffed with strawberry jelly. The soft and characteristically perfumed local fruit intermingled lusciously with the light refreshing Western-style gelatine snack.
Equally delightful was the bua loy benjarong, which offered pastel coloured taro pearls with salted egg in sweet and salty warm coconut cream.
With a nice selection of fresh fruit cocktails, this casual Thai restaurant is also a nice hang-out place. Service was pleasant.
About the author
- Writer: Vanniya Sriangura
Position: News Reporter