Show me another restaurant in Pattaya which has been going for more than 30 years. Show me another restaurant where the chef has been there for the same 30 plus years. Show me another restaurant in Pattaya that has been in the same Soi for the 30 plus years. Show me another chef who has brought an original dish to Thailand, and now you can show me Chef Somsak (later Somsakdi) still cooking and running his amazing restaurant at 78 years of age.
With all that experience, Somsak’s story could fill this entire column, but suffice to say that Somsak began his working life as a delivery boy for Pepsi at B. 450 a month.
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 of being his own boss, 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 other parking spaces 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, complete with his tea towel over his left shoulder.
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. 170-200, including the very popular Chiang Mai sausage, followed by a section called Thai Salads, with items such as banana flowers, eggplant and cockles.
Seafood dishes generally range between B. 200-350. You will find crab claws cooked in the pot with soy sauce, pepper and herbs.
Spicy soups are amazing with 27 on offer priced as a single portion or for a number of guests sharing with tom yum goong, for example B. 200 single serve, B. 400 shared. There are also 14 Chinese soups (B. 170-340).
Pork and beef items are up next (and there are 26 of them), chicken and duck on offer at B. 170-250.
And so it goes on through 15 fried rice dishes, 8 fried egg and even a vegetarian section.
Now comes pages of European items with soups (B. 150-200), with ‘Special’ dishes (B. 250-350) including T-bone steak and pork chops.
There are more pages, but this is not an expensive restaurant, and when you see the quality and quantity it is difficult to beat Somsakdi’s.
Rather than be swamped by choices, we have always been guided by Somsak, after all, who knows his dishes better than he?
We began with a “Young girl’s crackling heart” which was a strange collection of yellow pipes which crackled when mayo was poured on them. Fun starter, followed with a tender sliced beef hot plate and a stuffed cabbage and pork, and by then we were stuffed also.
Genuine Thai and European food, cooked by a chef who has done his ‘apprenticeship’ and knows how to prepare and present his food. There is something for everyone. Highly recommended.
Somsakdi Restaurant, Pattaya Soi 1, tel. 038 428 987, 038 423 284, 038 429 869, limited parking plus on-street parking in the soi. Hours 11 a.m. until 11 p.m., seven days.