[BKK] Soul Food Mahanakorn | wholesome ingredients, honest cooking, serious drinks

Sunday, December 15, 2013

A part cocktail bar and a part Thai restaurant, this was one of the highly recommended restaurants even by top chefs in Thailand that serves authentic Thai cuisine at affordable prices. Soul Food Mahanakorn started off with a pretty simple idea, by serving Thai street food in a relaxed and comfortable setting. They pride themselves for sourcing most of their ingredients from small farms in Northeast Thailand. In addition, Soul Food serves organic fair trade rice, uses free-range meats and even offers a seasonal menu with daily specials!

While we made reservations for a table for 8pm on a Friday, we were in the area of Thong Lo early and decided to pop up at about 6pm, only to find that the restaurant were just about starting business as they only open doors at 5.30pm. Being ushered upstairs to a quiet corner, we were left to settle down briefly before a kind server walked up to us with menu and greeted us politely. While we regretted not obtaining the name of the gentleman who served us, he proactively struck up a candid conversation with us and made us felt welcomed. He even made recommendations on some of the tourist attractions that we should visit on our vacation and certainly provided some valuable advice!

While the menu printed "All of our portions are small plates intended for sharing", do take it with a pinch of salt, in a positive manner as we felt that the portion size was pretty filling, well at least among the two of us!

Yam Makrua Yao (220 THB)

This had to be one of the best appetisers tried for any cuisine to be honest. Uniquely different, this was strongly recommended by the waitress and we felt obliged to try it. No regrets, ever. It was a classic dish with grilled eggplants which was soft but not overcooked and complemented with soft-cooked duck eggs that had a melting yolk. Tossed in mint, coriander and smoky bacon strips, expect an array of flavours to explore through your tastebuds with each mouthful. A sensational touch of sweetness with an element of sourness, coupled with a strong fresh herbal fragrance, the finishing after taste from the savoury and crispy bacon just made it extra satisfying.

Verdict: 9.0/10

Large glass of Asahi (200 THB) and Soul Punch Cocktail (200 THB)

There was no better way than to relax yourself with some refreshments after warming up to the seats at a quiet corner of the restaurant while waiting for our food. Famous for their cocktails, the lady ordered the 'Soul Punch' which comprised sangsom, amaretto, guava and passionfruit. What we enjoyed about the cocktail was that it tasted refreshingly fruity without compromising on the alcohol as quality booze was used and all cocktails had double shots in them. Unfortunately, the only draught beer they serve was Asahi but it was well-received.

Verdict: 8.5/10

Daily special: Smoked chicken and dips - 350 THB

Highly recommended by the lady who took our orders, we decided to give this daily special a shot. The serving size was actually half a free-range chicken and while the flesh was tender, it lacked the smoky flavour expected. It actually tasted more like a well-roasted chicken with a nice crisp skin on the outside to complement the soft protein.

The dips were served on the side, with the usual Thai sweet chilli, mildly spicy chilli sauce and a slightly savoury homemade sauce which complemented the chicken well, almost like the classic brown sauce. For those who do not quite fancy raw crunch, you might wish to give the accompanying vegetables a miss.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Sticky tamarind ribs (275 THB)

These tender pork ribs were braised in a tamarind barbecue sauce and grilled with caramelized pineapple on the side. As expected and like the name suggested, it was sticky and on the sweet side. The pork ribs were extremely tender and fell off the bone easily. While the marinade was spot-on, we found the grill a little on the charred side, which gave a slightly distasteful burnt after-taste. 

Verdict: 7.5/10

Gaeng Massaman (220 THB) with white rice (40 THB)

The slow-braised Southern style Massaman curry with chicken and potatoes was good but not comparable to the sublime version we had at Nahm. With some fried shallots to add crunch and enhance the fragrance, we found the curry rich but not as creamy as desired. While the chicken was tender and juicy, locking in the flavours from the curry that it was braised in, the potatoes lacked sweetness and tasted pedestrian. It was however a worthy main to go along with some fragrant Thai rice.

Verdict: 7.5/10

Coconut ice cream (80 THB)

There was no way a meal could be regarded as complete without some palatable dessert to cleanse our taste buds. Unfortunately, the coconut ice cream failed to impress. While it tasted creamy, it bore only a light hint of coconut fragrance and tasted largely like vanilla ice cream with some nice texture from the crushed nuts.

Verdict: 6.0/10

Bun Bang Fai (220 THB)

In the mood for some light jolly, we decided to try a few other signature cocktails on the menu. This particular Tequila based cocktail caught our attention as it also contained chilli, lime, almond syrup and egg white, on the rocks, too. Definitely a fave for Tequila fans, expect an explosion of various tastes and flavours with plenty of surprises!

Verdict: 8.5/10

The Exile (230 THB)

We had stomach for just about another drink to share among us and we sought recommendation for one of the most exotic cocktail on the menu. This Vodka based cocktail was infused with lemongrass and kaffir lime leaves, topped with ginger ale. While it tasted slightly too 'herb' for our liking, it surely brought a strong resonance to Thai cuisine.

Verdict: 7.5/10

The service at this restaurant was anything but perfect with a bunch of very dedicated staffs. We definitely enjoyed the quality food being served and there was nothing conspicuous about the honest cooking by the chefs behind the scenes. Many Thai restaurants can boast of their authenticity but not many can flaunt about an equally sensational bartender who can concoct some brilliant cocktails to sum up a brilliant Friday evening.

Soul Food Mahanakorn
56/10 Sukhumvit Soi 55 (Soi Thong Lor), opposite Grand Tower Inn

P.S: Reservations are highly recommended

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