Hidden in the back streets of Chinatown, in Bangkok’s historic Talad Noi district, is Nang Gin Kui. A restaurant with a twist, this hidden ‘guerrilla’ dining club combines the heady delights of modern and traditional Thai food with a to-die-for setting. Nang Gin Kui is a special treat on any trip to Bangkok.
We stumbled on Nang Gin Kui completely by accident whilst trawling Google Maps to find Sweet Pista, one of total our top eats in Bangkok. A quick trip to the website and an email to Florian, one half of the husband and wife team running the place, and we were booked and hooked. Unique private dining you say? Sold! Incredible riverside setting? Sold! The terrifying prospect of conversing with strangers round a communal table? Sold…?
One thing I’ve yet to work out is what the translation of Nang Gin Kui is. Given the beautifully complex nature of the Thai language, and the fact it’s not written in Thai anywhere it could mean “Sit, eat, chat”. It could equally, according to Google Translate mean “Movie eats rummaging”. Obviously the first one makes more sense but part of me hopes it’s the latter.
Getting to Nang Gin Kui
The evening starts at the Sheraton hotel, where Florian meets you and your small group of dining companions for the evening. In our case we had a particularly diverse bunch ranging from German tourists to travelling Texan nurses to a gaggle of Thai bloggers. Conversation and company are a fundamental part of the evening, so bring your best smile and icebreaking witticisms.
If, like me, you don’t have either of those, panic not. The food will be good enough to provoke ample discussion. The people we met were all friendly and chatty, and given that everyone there is likely a food fan, there are always common interests to discuss!
After a quick stroll through the tight, winding sois of Talad Noi we arrived at the venue. I think originally this was Florian and Goy’s apartment, but it’s moved to their new space – Baan Rim Nam – right on the river bank in an achingly cool open air Thai terrace. Being greeted by an amber sun melting over the horizon is a good way to start.
The setting is truly stunning and you can immediately sense that you’re in for a good evening.
At Nang Gin Kui, Florian plays the consummate host while Goy and her team churn out spectacular bites of food from the kitchen. Signature cocktails with lemongrass and chilli, as well as other boozy coolers or various hues are provided, plus beers and softs for those who want them.
Food comes in the form of heavenly little bites of one or two mouthfuls. Things on sticks, thing on leaves, fried things, fermented things. Things aplenty, and each one delicious.
Each bite is a different taste of Thailand and I would guess the menu changes depending on availability. It’s a fool’s errand to try to describe what we had, because ‘fish on a stick with berry’ doesn’t in any way convey the actual dish itself. 10 delicious and unusual things in a row, then curry, then dessert, is a more apt description.
For the later courses, everyone sits around a communal low table to enjoy a delightful chicken massaman curry and dessert, with a few more associated nibbles.
ABsolutely stuffed with great food, booze and having made a couple of new friends, we staggered back into the night some 5 hours after starting.
We had a great evening at Nang Gin Kui. It’s not a cheap night out – 3,800 THB a head is a lot for Bangkok but a steal by western standards – but it’s more than worth it for the setting, food and overall experience. It’s also something very different from the usual Bangkok ‘things to do’ and something which we’ll remember for a long time to come!
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