Living in Thailand, we are naturally surrounded by Thai restaurants, with the majority being street-side and turning out quite reasonable food. However, despite the plethora of Thai dishes available, there eventually becomes a time when boredom can set in. In Thailand, there is one other style of Thai food known as “Royal Thai” kept mainly for formal dinners, and not for weekday fare. The choice was then limited to two.
But now there is more! A young Thai lady called May has come up with a new slant on an old cuisine. Called “Urban Thai” it is described as traditional Thai, but urban refined. May’s urban restaurant is also very new, having been open for only two months, but already is getting a strong following.
May is an interesting person, having come through the ranks of hotel F&B staff, rather than kitchen, with her last placement being with the Plaza Athenee in Bangkok. She always had the desire to strike out on her own, and MAYs Urban Thai is the result.
The restaurant is in the Ratanakorn Market on Thepprasit Road, which is just past the Colosseum heading towards Thappraya Road from the Sukhumvit end.
Entering the market, MAYs is on the left, about 75 meters down. A thatched roof gives it a rustic appearance and the pine seats (padded) and tabletops just add to it all. In the center is a sit-up table, with other free standing tables dotted around. Along the back wall is an open kitchen, with the main kitchen behind that. Enthusiastic service staff complete the picture.
The hours are from 5 p.m. through to 11 p.m. and the restaurant is closed on Sundays. The evening hours see the diners eating under “electric candlelight” (stolen from “Lola”, Ray Davies and the Kinks, 1970) adding to the ambience of the venue.
The menu is photographic, with Thai and English wording. I wonder why some restaurateurs have still not understood that not everyone can speak or read English, but a photographic image makes ordering simple, even without common language.
I sat back to peruse the menu with a beer (local beers B. 80). Wines available by the glass – an Italian Merlot B. 120 or a Sauvignon blanc for the same price. A budget priced Chilean is B. 750, and quite quaffable I was assured.
Many of the items are well known to even the most casual of Thai food exponents, such as shrimp cake with lemongrass and chilli (B. 130) or Thai fish cakes with cucumber sauce (B. 120), red snapper in red curry (B. 350), chicken and cashew nuts (B. 220), grilled chicken salad with May’s dressing (B. 190), and sweet and sour sea bass (B. 390 and the most expensive dish on offer). There are also a few non-Thai items such as a spaghetti carbonara, so all tastes are covered.
The major differences between this “urban” Thai and other Thai restaurants was immediately obvious when we were served a complimentary palate cleansing drink made from mint and pineapple juice, and then followed by an amazing ‘amuse bouche’ of cucumber and prawn. And not to forget the cold towels as well.
When the mains arrived, once again we were taken aback, receiving the food in almost art deco dishes, and in more than adequate portions.
Madame had chosen the Tom Kha Gai (chicken in coconut soup), which was of creamy consistency with plenty of chicken, and enjoyed wholeheartedly.
My choice was a Gaeng Garee Gai (yellow curry chicken), which came with not only rice, but some kanom jeen as well. The taste was excellent, with just the correct degree of spiciness for yellow curry. Undoubtedly one of the best examples of this dish that I have had for some time.
To sum up – this is a restaurant that you should try. Thai food, but definitely “urban” and well worth the trip down Thepprasit Road. Prices are middle of the road, the ambience is good and the food is excellent. Highly recommended.
MAYs Urban Restaurant, Ratanakorn Market, Thepprasit Road, Jomtien, open six days (closed Sundays), hours 5 p.m. till 11 p.m., telephone 098 374 0063, email [email protected], web www.mays.restaurant, adequate parking within the Ratanakorn Market.