A number of years back, when I was in Bangkok on an overnight work trip, a good friend there took me out for a magnificent meal at a restaurant I had (at that time) never heard of. She in turn had first visited there as a guest of our mutual friend Chef David Thompson, who had hosted her along with a celebrity chef visiting from London. In the years since, Krua Apsorn has become one of the most celebrated restaurants in the City of Angels, and yet remains to this day one of its most modest and affordable.
Today, Krua Apsorn has four branches. But the one I always go to is the original branch on Samsen Road. And I mean always–Krua Apsorn is one place that I make a point to visit on (almost) every single trip to BKK. If you haven’t gone, you’re in for a real treat. (If you have gone, you’re probably cursing me out under your breath for telling even more foreigners about this already crowded must-visit gastronomic hot spot.)
Krua Apsorn was opened by Chef Chanchavee Skulkant, whom everyone affectionately calls “Paa Daeng”. (Paa in Thai means aunt, i.e she’s called Aunty Daeng. Don’t ask me why she’s called Daeng, I have no idea. I do know that every Thai friend of mine also has a nickname whose origin I can’t quite fathom.) Anyway, Aunty never set out to be a chef. She was actually working at the city’s Irrigation Department when, in 1969, she was elected by her bosses’ wives to cook a meal for the Princess Mother Srinagarindra (mother of the current King Bhumipol Adulyadej) and her daughter, Princess Galayani Vadhana. The royals enjoyed her food so much that she went to work for the Princess Mother until her death in 1995, and after that for Princess Galayani. These days though, Aunty Daeng serves sensational yet simple food to in-the-know locals and visiting foodies.
For me, the two must-have dishes at Krua Apsorn are the “stir-fried crab in curry powder” and the “omelet with crab”. The former, which is pictured at the start of this post. It’s lovely chunks of tender crabmeat sauteed with egg, onions and spring onions in a very mild yellow curry sauce. It’s incredible. The latter is an uber-fluffy globe of egg stuffed with crab. Yeah, I know, two dishes with egg and crab? Indulgent, yes. Monotonous, not at all. The flavours are distinct enough to warrant having both dishes.
Also excellent is the “fried kingfish with mango salad”, pictured above. Nice big hunks of kingfish, tender on the inside and yet crisp on the outside, plated with a tart, tangy, spicy mango salad. Great dish for waking up the palate.
The Samsen branch of Krua Apsorn is located in the old part of Bangkok, near the Dusit Palace. It’s the perfect place to lunch if sightseeing in that area. It’s also not far from Khao San Road (for budget travellers) or The Siam hotel (for luxe types). But even if you’re staying farther away, it’s totally worth visiting Krua Apsorn. Just make sure you get a friend or a concierge to book a table for you, and get proper directions too.
Samsen Road Branch
10:30-20:00, closed Sundays
Din So Road Branch
10:30-8:00, closed Sundays
Sanam Bin Nam Branch
10:30-9:00, closed Mondays
Vimanmek Palace Branch
10:30-4:00, closed Mondays