AEC – is it a restaurant or an art gallery

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Thai food is lauded throughout the world, and we who live here are really quite spoiled for choice – but there is a downside to this as well. True “Thai” cuisine restaurants tend to be rather slip shod as far as cleanliness is concerned, and creature comforts are minimal, with plastic stools or wooden seats the usual seating offered. Consequently, we all know some great Thai restaurants, but you don’t linger after the meal (which suits the restaurant as they rely on numbers to keep the prices down).

We were made aware of the AEC Coffe (sic) and Restaurant by the Siriram Spa on Chaiyapornvittee, being 1.5 km from Sukhumvit Road, with the restaurant opposite the Spa. It has indeed been named for the forthcoming ASEAN Economic Community!

It is a large venue, being a triple shophouse, with an entirely glass frontage. It has been going for 15 months and is owned by K. Poon (Ratree), a lady who has been in the restaurant business for many years. She also has a consuming interest in art, with the walls all decorated in framed art works, including one huge canvas floor to ceiling. The restaurant is also a favorite hang-out for some of our Thai national artists, whose work is on display.

The floor is cream colored ceramic tiles, the tables have spotless laminate tops and the chairs are very comfortable. There is a server which also doubles as a coffee area. The toilet is very clean.

A word about the name of the restaurant which includes “coffe”. K. Poon explained that the spelling mistake was there from the beginning, when the menu was printed, so it was left. They may correct the spelling when the menu is reprinted!

You will have to leave some time to look through the menu, as there are 240 items. While perusing, beers are B. 60, though the very popular Paulaner comes at a premium.

The 240 items are individual dishes too, not the same thing in beef, pork, chicken, prawn or fish variants. The menu is also multilingual having descriptions in Thai, English, Russian and Chinese. And another important fact with this menu is that it is pictorial – not everyone speaks those four languages, and even many who do can be uncertain as to what any particular dish is made up of. Don’t be too surprised when you come across a platypus dish. Imported from Australia? No, when transliterating between the Thai “duck’s beak”, the translating program must have found the duck-billed platypus and decided that was close enough.

The huge menu begins with breakfasts (hence the 9 a.m. start for the restaurant), and are generally around B. 165. There are European as well as Thai items, which is the case through the entire menu such as spaghetti bolognaise (B. 100), snapper steak (B. 199) and deep-fried prawn (B. 100), but there are many truly Thai offerings such as spicy fried frog (B.90), khao pad pik (fried rice with chilli paste (B. 90) and betel nut salad (B. 100).

With the aforementioned 240 items, it is difficult to show prices, as the menu does not seem to have many ‘sections’ to lump then together. The price for most Thai items fall into the B. 60-100 range and the top seemed to be sea bass at B. 280.

We tried a few dishes, including the Snapper steak (B. 199) which comes with salad and chips and a very nice tartare sauce. For me, the deep-fried prawns (B. 100) was my dish of the night, but we had no disappointments. Madame finished the night with a blueberry shake

We went to the AEC with no particular pre-supposed ideas, and came away with the certainty we would be back again. The venue is excellent, the food was great and inexpensive, other diners there that evening also said the food was always consistent.

Definitely worth going out to Chaiyapornvittee (turns off Sukhumvit at Naklua) and you will still have lots of money left in the pocket when you leave.

AEC Coffe and Restaurant, Chaiyapornvittee Road (1.5 km from Sukhumvit Road), open 9 a.m. until 10 p.m., on-street parking at the front, telephone: 089 245 7088.