Somsakdi revisited

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One of the longest lasting restaurants in Pattaya is the Somsakdi Restaurant (originally just called Somsak’s) which has been at Soi 1 for 25 years – 19 years on the right side and now six years on the left.  As well as longevity, for many people, Somsakdi’s is remembered for its signature Fried Ice Cream, a dish that Somsakdi Kavowthong brought back from America some decades ago!

To get to the restaurant you come up Soi 1 from the Beach Road end and around three quarters of the way up you will see Somsakdi’s on your left hand side.  When you enter, you will see a smiling chap in a colored shirt and a napkin over his left shoulder.  This is Somsak, who never seems to age (he is actually 72), and who has been running his own restaurant here in Pattaya for over 30 years.

Somsak 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”.

The venue is enormous, and because of its capacity has always been very popular with large groups.  The very reasonably priced dishes are also an attraction!

Not only is the venue enormous, but so is the menu as well!  Pages and pages in both Thai and English, with items covering Thai food, European food, Chinese and vegetarian cuisine.

Thai appetizers are in the B. 130-170 range, and the “Cooked catfish roll with tasty ingredients (as good as Persian caviar)” sounded very interesting.  Most dishes from the Thai menu are B. 150, though items such as crab claws in a pot attract a premium at B. 350.

Pork and beef items are generally also B. 150, as are the chicken and duck, fried rice dishes and vegetarian ones.

The European dishes are cooked by Somsak himself and fall in the range of B. 250-470, with imported New Zealand lamb chops at the top end.  Somsak has also left my favorite spelling mistake in the menu where dishes are served with “mast” (mashed) potatoes.

We began with a Chilean Reservado Cabernet Sauvignon, and at B. 795 this was good drinking.  Our first course was clams, mussels and scallops in garlic, with garlic bread to mop up the oil.  An absolutely wonderful appetizer.

We then tried a medley of dishes (there were four of us at our table) which included a very tender roast beef with ‘mast’ potato and spinach, a pork Balinese with fries and vegetables and a fish meuniere.  Each excellently cooked and enjoyed by us all.  And that, we thought, was that.  We were very full.  However, it was not to be the end of our evening’s review, Somsak’s famous sautéed banana with Curacao ice cream were proudly brought over as desserts.  It was obvious that these were not an option, but were in fact compulsory!

Once again, we had a very enjoyable dinner at Somsakdi, in no small way from the very welcoming nature of Somsak himself, but also from the consistently high quality of the food on offer (from one of Pattaya’s largest menus).  The re-visit had been well worthwhile.  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 1 a.m.