Eating in Khlong San
There’s a stretch of Charoennakorn road just south of the Saphan Taksin flyover, on the Thonburi side of the river, that just keeps getting better for food.
Khlong San is not always the most venerated or accessible neighbourhood of Bangkok for its food scene – but it’s always had a solid choice of older, family-run Thai restaurants like Thong Fah, Jeju Noodle and the like. Since Iconsiam popped into existence a couple of years ago, more and more newer places are springing into life around Khlong San; even if the hordes of hungry shoppers may not have quite materialised as planned.
Mhoo Tord Charoennakorn, Ni Kala Khao Soi, the Bangkok Cafe/Miss Saigon mashup and the fiery Chinese bbq at Mala Crnk are all good reasons to eat on this patch – most of these are now covered in my Bangkok best restaurants list. Khlong San is a bit of an under-reported area too compared to some of the more famous neighbourhoods in Bangkok, but I’ve found The Roaming Cook useful for more places to eat on the Thonburi side of the river!
Rot Rue Dee
Possibly our favourite in these parts is Rot Rue Dee (รสฤดี). Rot Rue Dee is a converted shophouse that’s been modernised into something which blends modern and traditional. There’s a rickety staircase up to the second storey, but the floor is buffed concrete.
The walls are adorned with hand paintings of traditional Thai scenes, but a closer look reveals that they’re all modern scenes – cars and mopeds and all. Out front, almost cascading onto the street, is a polished stainless steel open kitchen where chefs in matching black uniforms turn out a massive range of dishes.
The food mirrors the decor – it’s largely familiar stuff but executed with a heavy dose of flair and precision. If all this sounds a bit fluffy, it’s because I can’t quite put my finger on what makes the food here so good, other than it is really good. Quality insights there.
Rot Rue Dee has a sprawling menu covering the whole gamut of Thai dishes. Northern platters of nam prik ong, southern Massaman curries, Thai-Chinese Guay Tiew Kua Gai, there are lots of familiar crowd pleasers. There are also less common dishes like stir-fried cowslip creeper with glass noodles and crispy belly pork in fish sauce which are very good.
I am an absolute sucker for khao pad tom yum goong – tom yum fried rice with prawns. The one served at Rot Rue Dee is my favourite – as evidenced in the below picture where I’ve scoffed half of it before getting a terrible picture.
It is a properly spiky, hot, salty and sour tom yum mix that is still remarkably fresh and vibrant. The punch of chilli is balanced by the fat from the fried rice, and it all has the lovely smokiness of a dish which has spent a short amount of time in a screamingly hot wok. Topped off with some fat river prawns, it’s just so good.
Kai Palo come out with just barely set yolks in the classic rich brown sauce. I think that Kai Palo is the devil’s food owing to the bursting lumps of fried tofu, but Frankie assures me it’s excellent.
Pork belly with red curry paste and string beans is another winner; again it’s something quite common but just done so well. I think it’s something to do with the flavour balance – everything just works well together in just the right amounts.
Prices are also wallet-friendly at Rot Rue Dee. We shared 4 dishes and had a large beer each and the total was under 600B. Most main dishes are in the 100-150B range from memory. Portions are not gigantic but very filling and more than enough to share if you order a couple of dishes per person. It’s not the cheapest you will ever find, but Rot Rue Dee is definitely a cut above many restaurants and certainly not expensive.
They seem to do a great trade in takeaway, but the shop itself is usually quite quiet whenever we have been there. I’m sure that in Bangkok there are 1000 neighbourhood restaurants that are something a little bit special like Rot Rue Dee, but this is our one that I wanted to share. In Bangkok we are so spoilt for choice that you almost expect your meal to be good every time – but at Rot Rue Dee it steps up from good to memorable.
If you find yourself on the other side of the river, we can highly recommend checking out Rot Rue Dee.
How to find Rot Rue Dee
Rot Rue Dee is on CharoenNakorn road, across the river from the river boat pier at Saphan Taksin. You can take the local ferry across the river from Saphan Taksin (5 baht, the pier on the farthest right hand side as you leave the BTS). Then walk to the main road, turn left and it’s 5mins along the main road. Go over the footbridge next to 7-11 and it’s near to the other 7-11 on the other side.