Oh waiter…err…waitress?: By Farrah Praisal
Although I have met some very adventurous
spirits around these parts I know that many of us fulfill
our culinary needs by frequenting comfortable, safe
restaurants either geared to or operated by our fellow
farangs. I am guilty of this myself and I am trying to break
myself of the bad habit. All of us should occasionally
wander into one of those places that make us a bit nervous
or one where we feel we might not belong or for that matter
be welcomed. I am proud to say I have done just that
recently and I ended up having a true epicurean experience
as a result.
People are often telling me about old or new restaurants
that they think might be worthy of a write up and for this I
am always grateful. On this occasion my friend Matt (not his
real name) told me of a Thai restaurant that he thought I
might enjoy. The name of the venue is “Golden Ball” and it
is located on Santithum Road in an area of our fair city
that I don’t often frequent. Although it might look from the
outside as if it would be a difficult experience at best,
what with nary an English word on the specials board or a
fellow farang in sight, it is in reality just the opposite.
I was welcomed with open arms by the host Mister Bon, and it
was all uphill from there.
The restaurant is made up of several sections. There is the
outer table and chair area where “calorically challenged”
old men like me who can’t sit on the floor (or get up
gracefully if they are foolish enough to try) can maintain
their dignity, and there is the Thai style dining room where
the limber folks sit traditionally cross legged while
dining. There is also a bar and a sofa area for kicking back
and relaxing with a cocktail. The cuisine is strictly
traditional Thai and the menu is presented in both Thai and
English. While the waiters are one o f the happiest, smiley
groups I have ever encountered their English hovers around
the “hello” stage. This is where the ever present Mister Bon
comes in. He is always available to translate, take your
order or make recommendations. Several times I just asked
him to bring me some good food and he succeeded each and
The music coming through the speakers is Thai rock but it is
not overly loud so conversation is easy. It can be a very
interesting place for those voyeurs who like to people watch
too. Although the bulk of the clientele are local Thai it
also seems popular with the students of a nearby massage
school and an occasional walk-in tourist who just happens to
meander by is not uncommon. The majority of the crowd is
younger but it’s obvious that all are welcome. In addition
to the rather lengthy menu Mister Bon is planning to create
several set menus also in an effort to make life easier for
his foreign guests.
I am told that the name in Thai is “Bon Tong” which might
prove helpful should you be taking a tuk tuk or a taxi. The
logo for the restaurant is a butterfly and the lovely insect
appears on just about everything. It wasn’t until after
several visits that I figured out the significance of the
winged wonder. In a truly “only in Thailand” experience, I
noticed that while I was greeted by Mr. Bon the host upon my
arrival, I was usually receiving a good bye and come back
soon from Miss Bon the hostess. Somewhere between my
appetizer and entrée the friendly proprietor seems to
magically change from a caterpillar to a butterfly for all
to see. It’s all great fun and an experience you won’t soon
forget. The place reminds me of a restaurant called the
“Universal Grill” I used to visit in New York in the 80’s.
The servers were “gender illusionists” and if it happened to
be your birthday they would stick a bouffant wig and a tiara
on your head and the entire place would sing along. Those
were the days!
Oh, I almost forgot…..the food is really good. The chef
seems to send out dishes quickly and effortlessly and the
taste is wonderful. All your traditional favorites as well
as some new discoveries are there and the prices are
amazingly low at anywhere from 25 to 80 baht per dish.
All in all, it’s more than just dinner, it’s an experience.
You not only go away feeling sated and a bit like you got
into a secret place you weren’t really supposed to get in
but you will also have fun. For an inexpensive night out, a
few laughs and a good meal I highly recommend you give it a
try. The restaurant is located adjacent to the Santithum
Guest House. Call 053-406043 or Bon 085-1062244 and for
precise directions check out their web site at: www.bon
Indonesian Spicy Prawn Soup
A light bouillon with just a little spice raises this soup from the mundane.
The recipe can be used for crab as well, or for something a little different use
both crab and prawn, but halve the quantity of the two. The crab takes a little
longer to cook than the prawn so add the crab to the bouillon for two minutes
In four pre-warmed bowls, divide the coriander,
tomatoes and prawns.
Bring the stock to the boil and then simmer.
Mix the garlic, sugar, lemon juice and chilli paste in a small pot and stir
until the sugar has all dissolved. Now stir this mixture into the boiling stock
and then pour immediately into the four bowls and serve.
This will produce a spicy prawn soup.
Ingredients Serves 4
Coriander leaf (finely chopped) 2 tbspns
Tomatoes (skinned, sliced)
Prawn (fresh, peeled)
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