Eats Payao is worth a taxi ride, and that is high praise indeed.
I have something of an aversion to taxis in Bangkok, mainly because the traffic is so unpredictable you have no idea how long you’ll be in the cab. Tucked away on a nondescript street in Bangkok’s south Sathorn, our cab driver was as shocked as we were when Google Maps suddenly announced our arrival. Wedged between a 7-Eleven and some houses, you wouldn’t necessarily look twice at Eats Payao if you didn’t know it was there.
Actually, that’s a lie. It’s bright orange. You’d probably look twice. I have a lot of time for restaurants which paint themselves bright orange. It’s quite a statement. It either guarantees fun and brilliance, or total ineptitude. Thankfully at Eats Payao, it’s fun and brilliance all the way.
Eats Payao came highly recommended by some pals – and I mean highly recommended. We’re talking ‘grown adults getting visibly excited’ recommended. Their hype was more than justified.
Eats Payao is a tiny but convivial little space inside – it feels like (and possibly is) a family home with a restaurant downstairs. Eight of us crammed around a small table and perused the menu, which is a mix of Northern Thai and Singaporean. We only had eyes for the Northern Thai today, but it’s probably a safe bet their Hokkien Mee is on point as well.
The menu is a little different from many Thai restaurants you’ll see in Bangkok. While North-Eastern Thai – Isaan – food is prevalent, you don’t see much from the North. The Taste of Payao platter was enough to give us a culinary tour of the North, full of great and unusual flavours.
You’ll need to take it on trust that these things are delicious, because they do sound a bit odd. Northern Thai food is big on things which are sort of chutneys. At Eats Payao that involved Nam Prik Ong – minced pork with tomato, chilli and a massive whack of shrimp paste. Nam Prik Noom is a coarse paste made largely of green chilli. Both of these are dual function foods, both standalone dish and dipping sauce for vegetables, meat and pork crackling. At Eats Payao they are majestic – unexpected sigh of pleasure territory.
There’s much else to love, from thick sausages with a big kick of coriander. There’s raw fermented pork sausage, which again you”ll have to trust me on – as well as a more familiar but still excellent grilled chicken.
So after the starter, and already satisfied, the main event came steaming out. Eats Payao is famous foor Khao Soi, and rightly so. Our 180 baht produced a bowl – I say bowl, it was getting towards vat territory – of steaming, deep yellow curry, topped with fried noodles and housing meltingly tender meat and cooked noodles within. Khao Soi is always a crowd pleaser, but this is the best I’ve had in Bangkok. It’s rich, unctuous and with just the right level of heat and spicing. One bowl easily served three, although I was too busy scarfing it down to take pictures.
A final, more surprising star, came in the form of an aubergine salad — eggplant as it was listed on the menu. I’ve subsequently discovered that this is called Yum Makua – a devastating combo of aubergine, chilli, coriander, garlic and a few more typically Thai suspects.
The result is one of those rare things that falls into the camp of “I’ve never tasted that before, but I want to taste it again”. It’s an unexpected triumph – possibly a good way to sum up Eats Payao in general.
Service is friendly, and the food goes a very long way. Eight of us feasted mightily, including beers and the occasional gin and tonic, for the princely sum of 350 THB per head (or about 9 quid). Dishes are in the 100-300 baht range, but are absolutely massive, making this a definite cheap eat champion. Go with a crowd for maximum bang for your buck.
So whilst it’s slightly off the beaten track, Eats Payao is a must try in Bangkok for fun, flavour and discovering new favourites.
All hail the eggplant salad.
Getting to Eats Payao
Getting there is pretty straightforward in a taxi, and the nearest MRT is Khlong Toei, about a 10 min drive. Here’s the location. The address is below in Thai and English – it’s next to 7-Eleven on Yen Akat Road.
It’s pretty small so do book in advance!
5/4 ถนน เย็นอากาศ แขวง ช่องนนทรี เขต ยานนาวา กรุงเทพมหานคร 10120
5/4 Yen Akat Rd, Khwaeng Chong Nonsi, Khet Yan Nawa, Krung Thep Maha Nakhon 10120
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