The Mae Sri Ruen chain of restaurants is very well known in Thailand, with several in Bangkok and a few here in Pattaya. Because it is (correctly) thought of as a Thai venue offering only Thai food, it is not a restaurant that comes to mind as a ‘farang’ alternative. This review may change your mind.
Last week we went to Big C in North Pattaya fully intending taking in a movie. Finding that the only suitable movie did not start till 8 p.m. we decided to eat in the Center and made our way to Mae Sri Ruen, a large Thai style restaurant we had eaten at before. The choice of this restaurant, from the many in the center, was based on previously experienced speed of service, reasonable food and inexpensive, and not the ambience, which had generally been poor.
This time it was completely different! The area was about half the size it had been, the décor was pleasant, the kitchen behind glass was clean, and the service staff were pleasant, smiling and helpful. The restaurant itself was no longer looking run down and dowdy, but was bright and clean, with tables that had been correctly wiped down, and not the previous perfunctory quick swipe. What a make-over!
The menu is a photographic one, and certainly makes ordering simple, though it does have English and Russian versions. Perusing the menu also showed that the same inexpensive items for which the Mae Sri Ruen outlets are well known have continued. There is also a wall with several coffees (hot and cold) and other beverages and ice creams on offer. This Mae Sri Ruen has certainly moved itself into today!
Tables are free-standing in the middle of the restaurant, and will cater for four, six or eight diners, and there are booths around the perimeter for four to six. Marble topped tables and comfortable, but serviceable steel seating. Clean dispensers for fish sauce, sugar, chilli powder, etc., plus clean utensils and tissues and toothpicks are on every table, too. Along one wall is the kitchen behind glass, with several cooks seen to be working hard to keep the service staff busy.
Examples of items from the menu included boiled duck with black sauce noodles with soup B. 38; fried rice with pork or chicken B. 45; steamed rice, shrimps with holy basil and chili B. 65; and if you want to add a fried egg to anything, you will pay and extra B. 8. I must add that the menu itself was clean and not sticky and dog-eared, as had been in the previous incarnation of this Asian fast food restaurant. We were beginning to warm to this new experience.
I chose a stir-fried mussels on hot plate (B. 80) and (since it was during the government’s enforced ‘dry’ weekend) I ordered a can of cola, with some ice. I was very taken aback later when I asked for the bill to find that the cola was only B. 20 and the ice was B. 1. I did say that Mae Sri Ruen was inexpensive!
We were very pleasantly surprised by this revamped Mae Sri Ruen outlet. My stir-fried mussels on a hot plate was excellent, with the mussels sitting on a bed of very fresh bean sprouts. And the hot plate was indeed hot.
For a quick and pleasant dining experience we can heartily recommend the Big C’s Mae Sri Ruen. If you had been to this restaurant before, you would agree with the description I gave at the start of this review. Let me assure you that the comparison to today is amazing.
I had gone there for a quick meal before the movies. I ended up enjoying the experience so much that I decided to make the Big C Mae Sri Ruen the subject of this week’s revue. They did not know that this would happen, and were probably a little perplexed at why this person was taking photographs. Now they know.
Mae Sri Ruen, Big C Shopping Center, Second Road, North Pattaya. No booking necessary, secure parking in the Big C car park. Open seven days, 11 a.m. until 11 p.m.