Thai cuisine is incredibly diverse. Even though I strive to expand my knowledge of Thai dishes I have really only experienced the tip of the iceberg of what’s out there. I’m certainly no expert but I am getting better at identifying what is a Northern or Isaan dish from dishes that are from the central plains. But after recently visiting Penang, Malaysia it dawned on me that I was completely clueless to Southern Thai food. Fortunately for me I discovered a place in Bangkok to clue me in. SN Bar & Kitchen (official Facebook page) is an excellent restaurant to get an education on authentic Southern Thai dishes.
SN Bar & Kitchen specializes in two things: Southern Thai Cuisine and some great cocktails. I know that sounds like a strange combination but if you take a look at their menu you’ll see a wide variety of both at very reasonable prices.
But let me show you what I’m talking about from my own experience. Let’s start with the food…
Five dishes seems like a fair sampling…
Southern Thai food is famous for being spicy, but that doesn’t mean all of their dishes are. My gal and I tried to get a sampling of dishes that were spicy along with dishes that weren’t spicy. SN Bar & Kitchen is happy to turn down the heat for folks not wanting to have their mouths set aflame–just let them know your taste preferences.
I requested that these dishes be prepared as they would make them in their own home so that I’d have an understanding of how spicy it should be. If you like Isaan spicy, you’ll enjoy this!
Bring on the pork!
Wherever you are in Thailand, no dinner would seem complete without something pork. This Moo Hong (170 baht) is a Southern Thai dish made with stewed pork belly. You can choose to have it with fatty pork, lean pork, or a mix of both. We chose to get a mix of both. The pork meat is very tender and flavorful from the herbaceous paste that it’s marinated and slow cooked in. It’s a little sweet, and the gravy of oyster and dark soy sauce adds a salty kick to it. I highly recommend this dish!
Stinky beans? Sign me up!
Though I’m no stranger to beans, and their effects, I’d never heard of “stink beans“, known in Thailand as “sato“. So of course I had to try it. It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had before. The texture of the bean is similar to a softened almond, and the flavor is really tough to describe. It’s kind of like sulphur or natural gas–it kind of lingers in your mouth, too. I don’t think anyone would want to sit down and eat a bowl of stink beans.
They’re pretty tasty when mixed with other things, though. This Krung Phad Phrik Kaeng Staw (220 baht) dish is made with stink beans, chillies, anchovy paste, minced pork, and topped with large prawns. It’s a very spicy and salty dish, and the beans really run a number on your taste and smell senses. This is something to try at least for the experience–but try it with something to drink and a side of plain rice as the spice and saltiness of it are no joke!
Pomelo salad with prawns…
Pomelo Salad isn’t strictly a Southern Thai dish (as it’s found all over Thailand), but it’s one of my favorite dishes that I can’t refuse if I see it on a menu. This Yum Sum-Oh (180 baht) is made with large chunks of juicy pomelo marinated with a dressing of tamarind and coconut milk, peanuts, shredded toasted coconut, and topped with prawns. This is a delicious combination of sweet and spicy. I highly recommend this dish!
Delicious Hokkien Noodles!
I’ve had Hokkien style noodles when traveling in Phuket so I had an idea of what to expect. For me these Bami Phad Hokkein Seafood (180 baht) noodles were much tastier than what I experienced before. The noodles are already creamy, but when mixed with the soft egg they become even creamier. The egg and the seafood sauces make a nice gravy for these noodles and SN Bar & Kitchen doesn’t skimp on the seafood.
Call the fire department!
This yellow curry will start a 4 alarm fire in your mouth. The Gang Phet Kai Sapharot (150 baht) seems innocent enough with its chunks of chicken and pineapple. In fact, the first bite for me was rather sweet as juicy pineapple leads the charge on the tastebuds. But then the first ember from the curry broth ignites and intensifies rather quickly…and then it retreats. It’s delicious but it’s spicy as Hell.
Fortunately, since the heat dissipates quickly you can keep returning to the bowl to torture yourself with this delicious but fiery dish! This dish is another reason to have a side of plain rice and a drink on hand.
A word about drinks…
SN Bar & Kitchen makes some seriously solid cocktails at pretty reasonable prices. The cocktail bar is open from 4pm – midnight, Tuesday-Sunday. You can see from the pictures that the bartender makes just as much effort in presentation of the drinks as the chef makes in presenting the food. My gal and I enjoyed 2 regular cocktails and 1 signature cocktail. What I love about these drinks is that you can taste the booze in them (they’re not overly sweet) and yet they’re very flavorful.
Many of the cocktails are “beach” drinks. They compliment the spicy food as well as the beach shell decor of the restaurant (meant to capture the feel of the famous beaches in southern Thailand). The Piña Colada (240 baht) is pictured above in the giant Tikki mug. It’s a refreshing mix of pineapple juice, light rum, and frothy coconut milk. It’s a very tasty drink that’s tough to pace yourself with as it’s so easy to drink quickly.
My personal favorite…
This Lychee Vodka (280 baht) is one of SN Bar & Kitchen’s signature drinks and my personal favorite. It’s made with vodka, Curaçao, and loads of Lychee pulp. I really like lychee fruit and enjoyed the big chunks found in this drink.
This is a pretty Planter’s Punch!
This is one of the prettiest Planter’s Punch (240 baht) drinks I’ve ever seen. It’s made with dark rum. light rum, pineapple and orange juice. It’s refreshing and delicious, too!
If cocktails are not your thing SN Bar & Kitchen also offers craft and local beer options (Singha Draft glasses at 90 baht/350 ml).
A chat with the owners…
I was fortunate to be able to meet with the owners of SN Bar & Kitchen, Sam and Nok. Sam is originally from Kolkata, India though he has lived in Bangkok for 25 years. Nok is from the Phangna Province in Southern Thailand. Though neither come from a F&B background, both are very passionate about food and drinks. They decided to start a restaurant when they both felt that they had too much time on their hands and television wasn’t the answer. Rather than sit about they chose to pursue their passions of cooking and making great drinks.
The SN Bar & Kitchen hit the Bangkok food scene in July, 2017. The “SN” in the restaurant name actually stands for Sam and Nok. The “Bar” is Sam’s forte and he’s the one inspiring the signature cocktails and keeping the drink menu “fresh” with new offerings. The “Kitchen” is Nok’s arena where she ensures that all dishes are prepared using the recipes of her family.
Authenticity is important to them. They want to showcase just how wonderful and diverse Southern Thai cuisine is. As a result, much of the ingredients that they use in their dishes are delivered fresh from southern Thailand such as “chone stems” and various curry pastes. If you want authentic southern Thai flavor in Bangkok you’ll find it here.
I’m hungry. Where is it?
SN Bar & Kitchen is located in the Ekamai Shopping Centre (Verng Boran) next to a Craft Beer Bar and a Japanese Izakaya. The “bar” is open for cocktails from 4pm-midnight, Tuesday-Sunday, and the restaurant itself is open everyday from 11am-midnight. Speaking with Sam, he told me that they had great relationships with their neighboring restaurants/bars and that it wasn’t unusual for customers to order a craft beer next door to go with their Southern Thai food or a SN Bar & Kitchen cocktail to pair with their yakitori from the Japanese Izakaya.
SN Bar & Kitchen offers plenty of seating inside and outside. For large groups (more than 6) it’s recommended to call in advance for reservations so that they can move some tables around to accommodate. Since they are also located at an outside shopping centre there’s ample parking available along with valet services.
I would highly recommend SN Bar & Kitchen for anyone interested in experiencing Southern Thai cuisine, and for folks who enjoy solid cocktails at very reasonable prices.