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Monday, October 22, 2012

Bharani Thai-Western Restaurant Review - Sukhumvit 23, Bangkok

Bharani Thai Restaurant - International cuisine and SaenZab Boat Noodles 

Overall Score  8/10
Taste   4/5
Ambiance  4/5
Service  5/5
Value   4/5

Bharani Thai Restaurant on BumRes.com

Since 1949, the Bharani has been serving Thai-Western food.  This restaurant must be one the oldest restaurant I know in Bangkok – 63 years of experience.  The recipes have passed down from generation to generation.  Under the name Bharani, there is another location at Central Chidlom and once at Emporium (now closed).  I also found out that the Noodle shop named Doong Deang Dai@Tops Market on Thonglor road is partially owned by the same family.  Bharani @ Sukhumvit 23 is the one I am reviewing.  The restaurant set up took up two stories of two connecting townhouses.  Parking is on the curbside, so try to beat your luck when you look for a spot. 

We went there just before the sunset and the restaurant had about three other tables in there.  None of them were Thai people.  The Bharani attracts many tourists and expats since the name was listed in the Lonely Planet magazine.  With the very Thai name, I thought that the food would be very authentic Thai.  It turned out – this place served the international selection like the old cook shop.  The term, “cook shop” refers to an establishment of Chinese settlers in Thailand cooking food for westerners back in the days.  Popular menu at these places are the Sirloin Salad, Stew Ox tongue, Pork chop, and Baked ribs.  There is one well known “cook shop” in Bangkok that I know – Chairoj @Phaya Thai.  At Bharani – besides international food selection, they also have the Thai boat noodle soup with dark broth (Kuay Tew Ruar).  The noodle section has a separate name, which is SaenZab.  A variety of noodles is available here; beef, stew beef, pork, stew pork, etc. 

I was with three other friends at Bharani.  On this visit we didn’t know what to order, so we asked the server for signature dishes.  Out of seven dishes, we had three dishes that were more like Thai dish.  First one was the Ox tongue stew (200 baht).  The texture of the tongue was amazing; so firm and tender.  Its stew sauce was tomato red, so tasty.  The appearance may not excite you as much, but I know you will like it.  My friend said that it was his best ox tongue stew in Bangkok.  Second best dish was the Yum smoked ham with chili (180 baht).  I think the ham was preserved like the Thai Naam.  The ham was meant to be wrapped inside the fresh lettuce with green onions, chilies, and peanuts.  This menu was new to me.  However, its taste reminded me of Thai Nam Sod.  Good menu – it is from the “All 52 weeks special” blackboard at the front, lol…  Another menu we liked was the Fried rice with salted beef (150 baht).  Personally I thought it was kind of dry but my friends liked it.  The rice tasted light and savory.  The sundried and fried salted beef was crispy and not too salty.  

Other signature menus that we ordered were so diverse.  We had the Bouillabaisse soup.  I was unsure of its nationality. Fresh seafood was drown in orange thick broth and served with garlic bread.  I actually liked this menu for the hot broth to help with the dry fried rice.  Next up was the Beef taco pizza.  Tortilla flour cut into wedges and fried to crispiness.  Each wedge was individually topped with sautéed beef Mexican style and cabbage – an easy going menu that can be a nice starter.  A second fried rice in this meal was the Spain fried rice (200 baht), full of context; seafood, fried chicken, and veggies.  The look was appetizing and the taste was new to me.  Last one was the Macaroni ham and cheese.  In the Thai homemade style, I don’t think it will impress the westerners as much.  As I saw reviews online, supposedly this menu is liked by many but honestly I could make a better one at home.  It was just ketchup with macaroni, ham, and cheese.  I expected more from this Macaroni at Bharani.  International dishes at Bharani were just mediocre.  These dishes have been in the menu at Bharani for years so the impression was like a western dish with the local attitude.    

We also had a few choices of desserts.  They were all Thai dessert.  Sala Loy Kaew  or Salaca or palm fruit in syrup was awesome.  Luktarn Loy Kaew – another kind of palm fruit jelly in syrup.  Icy Lychee is simple and delightful.  Coconut ice-cream with peanuts and bread would be a good choice for you too.  Must try Thai dessert is the Bua Loy, which is the boba or tapioca in coconut milk.  All desserts were homemade here.  Please see photos.  If you haven’t tried these choices, Bharani is a great start.

I am sure the Bharani @ Sukhumvit 23 will continue to serve the legend of cook shop style cuisine in Bangkok for the many years to come.  Staffs were really nice.  They treated us like family.  The antique decorations in the old fashioned interior setting reflect on the food here nicely.  If you happen to be in the Sukhumvit 23 area, Bharani is a good spot for you to enjoy international choices of homemade style dishes. 

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