I took my visiting family to Ayutthaya to explore the ancient ruins of this once historical capital city of Thailand. After an entire day of site exploring, we capped off the experience with a wonderful meal and view at sala ayutthaya (the name is intentionally all lowercase ((official Facebook page)). This oasis located in heart of Ayutthaya, sits along the banks of the Chao Phraya river, opposite of the famous Wat Phutthaisawan (built in 1353 AD by the first monarch of Ayutthaya Kingdom).
The food was amazing and the view incredible. It was the absolute perfect place to cap off the day of running about. I’m happy to share the experience with you. Let’s start with the meal!
We ordered our Thai favorite dishes as well as a couple of local dishes that are popular. Ayutthaya is famous for their large river prawns so we were certain to include them in the dinner line-up.
Here’s a breakdown of what we ate…
Laab is a Thai dish made with minced meat, herbs, lime juice, red onion slivers, chili, and toasted rice. It’s one of my favorite dishes and is usually on the menu with gai (chicken) or moo (pork) options. Every now and again, you may see it on the menu with ped (duck) as an option. If you do see it, get it!
This Laab Ped (230 baht) was rich from the fat of the tender minced poached duck breast, herbal from the mint, and mildly spicy from the chili. This was excellent over steamed rice!
Soft Shelled Crab with Yellow Curry
My family confesses to developing a bit of a soft shelled crab with yellow curry addiction during our recent experience at the Nong Seafood restaurant in Koh Chang. They can’t get enough of it!
This Poo Nim Phad Pong Karee (350 baht) had generous portions of breaded deep fried soft shelled crab in a rich creamy gravy made from yellow curry powder, eggs, and cream. If you order this you will understand my family’s addiction to it. You will probably develop an addition of your own.
Ayutthaya’s river harvest…
The area of Ayutthaya is famous for their GIANT river prawns. If you visit the area it should be on your bucket list of things to try. The prawns in this Goong Mae Nam Sauce Makham (890 baht) are rather large, but not the monster sized prawns they are famous for. These “little” guys were served with a sweet and savory red onion and tamarind sauce.
Chicken with Green Curry
This Gaeng Kiew Waan Gai (220 baht) is made with tender sliced chicken thigh meat, green coconut curry, pea eggplant pods, along with kaffir lime and sweet basil leaves. It actually packs quite a punch–especially if you end up eating a sliver of sliced red chili pepper! A bit of steamed white rice tempers the heat pretty well, though.
A special local salad!
I’ve never had a salad like this before. It was the undisputed favorite dish on the table by all. I’d love to find a place in Bangkok that serves it as I am craving it now just looking at the picture! If you know of a place that serves it, please let me know.
This Yam Tua Phu Goong Mae Nam (370 baht) is a local salad of Ayutthaya made with sliced wing beans, poached chicken breast, peanuts, toasted coconut, a spicy/tangy sauce made with chili paste and coconut, and topped with a large grilled river prawn, with a hard boiled egg on the side.
I highly recommend this dish!
Some more salad and greens…
One of my resolutions for the new year was to make sure I ate more veggies and fruits. Veggies are my newest friend. I may have gone a little overboard when I ordered these three dishes, though. The Som Tum Poo Nim Tod (320 baht) is your normal spicy, sweet, papaya salad made a bit more decadent with a fried and battered soft shell crab on top.
The Phad Phak Boong Fi Deng (180 baht) is your everyday stir fried morning glory with oyster sauce and garlic, simple and uncomplicated. If I had to bench a dish to make room for the other dishes I’d have benched this one. Not that it’s bad, it’s perfectly fine. But you can see I ordered a lot of greens here, right?
The Fried Chayote (180 baht) was my personal favorite salad. I’ve never had it before and wanted to try something different. The greens are very tender and flavorful. The heaps of garlic (I am a fan!) will essentially leave you vampire proof.
Leave room for dessert!
We managed to save enough room to share these two desserts, a Double Chocolate Brownie (220 baht) and a Blueberry Cheesecake (250 baht). The Valrhona double chocolate brownie is served with a vanilla bean ice cream and warm ganache sauce with a stick of macadamia nut brittle. I favored the blueberry cheesecake that came with a sweet blueberry compote sauce. As we feasted for dinner we enjoyed watching the sun go down. These desserts were the perfect way to usher in the evening and appreciate the view of the lighted ancient temples across the river.
The views, though!
The food at sala ayutthaya is delicious, but what really sets this place apart from its peers is the amazing view to enjoy with your meal or drinks. After a long day of scrabbling around ancient sites why not cap the day off with an ice cold malty beverage and a river view?
Honestly we couldn’t have come at better time. Our reservation was at 5 p.m. which afforded us the opportunity to watch the sky transform from day to twilight to evening. It was perfect.
We also enjoyed waving to all folks on the cargo boats that cruise up and down the Chao Phraya on their way to and from Bangkok!
A chat with the Sales Executive…
I had the good fortune to be able to speak with Khun Mantana, sala ayutthaya’s Sales Executive. She was able to give me a little information about the hotel and restaurant. The sala ayutthaya is actually one of the boutique luxury hotels in the Sala Hospitality Group portfolio. Though it is only a few years old (built in 2014) it’s has been recognized for several awards for their architecture and their luxury in the M Collection River Hotel category.
The hotel sala ayutthaya was designed to provide a memorable experience for all five senses: sight (visually stunning architecture and scenic river views), smell (from the krading-nangfa or “angel’s bell’” tree hanging flower blossoms), sound (the chirping birds, and soft bubbling water from the river and fountains), touch (the comfort of their rooms), and of course taste which I hope I’ve adequately covered.
Just getting through the hotel to the restaurant is a visually stunning experience. You pass through a small art collection room then open immense wooden doors to reveal a narrow corridor between tall ancient looking brick walls lined with pools of water softly trickling into large ceramic basins leading to the restaurant. My first impression was a flashback to my trip to Marrakech and exploring the souks. But then I realized that this must have been what it felt like to walk some of the temple hallways of ancient Ayutthaya. Incredible!
The force behind their culinary delights is Chef Nattapong Tassanapitikul. Before joining sala ayutthaya 3 years ago, he worked at Shangri-la Bangkok , Siam Kempinski Bangkok, and Issaya. His preferred cooking ingredient is the fresh giant Ayutthaya river prawns which are delivered daily with the fish catch from local fisherman.
I’m hungry! Where is it?
If you’re looking for a real treat to end your day of adventuring in Ayutthaya I highly recommend a visit to sala ayutthaya. For weekends and Thai holidays it would be wise to make a reservation in advance.
Should you be interested in taking your time to explore the historical sites and are looking for luxurious lodging, you can check sala ayutthaya’s rates and availability here. You will be surprised how affordable it is compared to similar luxury hotels in other countries!
For this trip we decided to rent a private van (9 seater) and driver for the whole day. It was convenient to have her pick us up, bring us to all the sites and restaurants (lunch and dinner), and bring us home. It was also a very fair price. If interested feel free to contact me. I’d be happy to share her details as she was dependable, fairly priced, knowledgeable of the sites, and safe.
If you visit, I’d love to hear about your experience!