Somsakdi – the unbelievable restaurant

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After dining at Somsakdi restaurant, it became obvious that this was a restaurant like no other in Pattaya. Thirty years in the same soi. Thirty years with the same chef (Somsakdi). Thirty years of cooking deep-fried ice cream, a delicacy he brought to Thailand.

Somsakdi really is one of the success stories of Pattaya, but the road to the top was not an easy one. He was once a delivery boy for Pepsi-Cola, for a monthly salary of 450 baht. At that time he also decided that, “One day I have to be boss, not just a worker.” A turning point was to come in his life after just a few months of pushing Pepsi wheel barrows. He met famous restaurateur Dolf Riks, who advised him that if he were to achieve his aim, he should go to the kitchens. This he did, and traveled the world in sea-going galleys, bringing back not postcards, but recipes from different parts of the world. He worked with famous cooks such as Moogens Bay Esbensen, at the renowned Two Vikings Restaurant in Bangkok. Finally he came to Pattaya and worked with Dolf Riks, his advisor from so many years before and then opened his own restaurant, simply called “Somsak’s” to be later called “Somsakdi’s”.

Now this is an easy restaurant to find. It is on Soi 1 from Beach Road and this soi is one way up towards Second Road. After about half way up, look on the left hand side and you will find Somsakdi restaurant set back slightly with a small car park in front. Don’t worry if it is full, there is plenty of parking space in Soi 1 itself.

The restaurant itself is very large with very high ceilings. Fans abound, but really the restaurant is not hot at all. Tables are large, chairs are comfy and Somsakdi himself is everywhere.

The menu is probably the largest menu in Pattaya, with I believe 374 individual items. Each dish is in Thai with an English explanation underneath.

It begins with beers, including imported Japanese beers such as Sapporo and Fosters for the Australians. Large bottles were B. 90-100, so no premium placed on them.

Appetizers came next with most around B. 150, followed by a section called Thai Spicy Salads, with items such as larb gai at B. 170.

Seafood dishes range between B. 170-500. Crab claws cooked in the pot with soy sauce, pepper and herbs (B. 350).

Soups are served as a single portion or for a number sharing with tom yum goong, for example B. 200 single serve, B. 400 shared.

Pork and beef items (and there are 25 of them), chicken and duck are around B. 170.

Items under the heading of European sees filet mignon (B. 350), osso bucco (B. 350) and leg of lamb (B. 470).

There’s more pages, but you get the idea, this is not an expensive restaurant, and when you see the quality and quantity it is difficult to beat Somsakdi’s.

We began with wafers and a goose liver pate, made by Somsakdi himself which we scoffed while waiting for the first dish, which was garlic scallops served on the shell and accompanied by two crisp garlic mini-loaves. A great starter.

Following on from there we had a pork “osso bucco”, just another of Somsakdi’s innovations. It was wonderful.

For mains we shared one of Somsakdi’s famous flamed chickens (gai sawan), served on a hot iron skillet. This is a stand-out dish, both visually and taste-wise.

We begged off desserts, but allowed ourselves to be talked into an Irish coffee each. Made by the master, at the table, complete with an explanation as to why he makes his differently from the other restaurants.

Genuine Thai and European food, cooked by a chef who has done his ‘apprenticeship’ and knows how to prepare and present his food. The choices are so many (374) there is something for everyone. Highly recommended.

Somsakdi Restaurant, Pattaya Soi 1, tel: 038 428 987, 038 423 284, 038 429 869, limited parking but plenty of on-street parking in the soi. Hours 11 a.m. until 12 midnight, seven days.