Soi Polo Fried Chicken; One Deadly-Addictive Fried Garlic & Sticky Rice AffairFebruary 26, 2012 | 3,026 views
For the complete series of mind-blowing stories related to this post, jump to Bangkok 2012 …..
Isaan Food; a Northeastern Thai affair that usually involves dishes predominant with chillies, salads, catfish, pork and fried chicken eaten with sticky rice.
Tell me what to eat in Bangkok few years ago, and I’ll go …uh, Tom Yum and Pad Thai? Oh, and Mango Sticky Rice. Or deep fried bugs, maybe. (I tried that on Khao San Road, loved them. Sick, I know)
And then the whole devouring the same old stuff time and again got old. I mean, how many plates of Pad Thai can one take before surrendering to the lure of southern Thai curries looming nearby (with a very VERY pungent waft of pickles and chillies), a stall serving coarse salt-coated grilled freshwater fishes, and the locals happily lapping up bowls after bowls of boat noodles (to come in a later post) while munching on pork rinds?
Thus, I was slowly enamoured by the elaborate stories on what Isaan food is, the origin of the humble cuisine incorporating spiced and savoury dishes, served with sticky rice and more often than not, more greens than meats.
A quick search on the web returned a few similar names. Of course, there could be hundreds, or possibly thousands of stalls out in Bangkok selling more or less the similar range of Isaan-inspired dishes.
Dead giveaways if they’re not authentic? When there are fusion creations and noodle dishes populated the rest of the menu. And sticky rice with consistency so irregular that bits of them stick to your fingers instead of lumped while you’re eating with your fingers and everything goes into your mouth with one smooth swipe.
For me, I falter at passing judgment and making comparison. Yes, Som Tum (the evergreen young papaya salad that has become a staple in Thai feasts internationally) is not a foreign invention to me. Yes, I have had Thai fried chicken before. But to be able to cook everything to perfection and leaving a lingering impression on the palate …. I guess that has authentic Isaan written all over it.
Now, Soi Polo Fried Chicken has been around for more than four decades in Bangkok. Tucked almost inconspicuously away from the major roads of Bangkok, and a considerable distance from city centre (northbound from Lumpini MRT station), the only hint that you probably need would be the stark red signboard emblazoned in front of the kitchen (read : kitchen, for the restaurant is a few doors away) written with “Polo Fried Chicken”.
From the Map, the lane named Soi Polo branching eastward from Wireless Road (Thanon Witthayu) sure did not look imposing …… almost a walk in the park (literally, as Lumpini Park’s opposite of this lane).
Yet, the stroll became a heated and sweaty affair, for we waved off the presumably easy distance and walked from Sala Daeng BTS station instead. A very timely exercise for these spare tyres indeed; taking us at least two kilometres easily under the banishing scorching sun late afternoon.
But was the extra effort worth it? The restaurant has air-conditioning (thankfully). And service was prompt. The premise can seat up to 30-40 diners at one go, and food was served almost within minutes. Being there during post-lunch hours on a weekday helped somewhat, I believed.
The menu came in both Thai and English language. A quick glance would led you to order almost one of each item from every segment. Trust me, the selection appeared to be DEAD tempting, and almost everything’s priced below 100 baht (RM10)!
Their specialty of Thai fried chicken with fried garlic was a spot on success. (90 baht/RM9 for half a chicken). More so to the crunchy bits of fried garlic that was VERY VERY addictive (I could have platefuls of this without the meat, seriously), than the juicy chicken without much taste, actually. The chicken can be eaten with the two types of chili sauces on the table; one being a sweeter Thai chili sauce and another was one with floating chili seeds and packing a fiery punch in every sip.
Best of all, the Som Tum Thai (Papaya Salad with Dried Shrimps) (40 baht/RM4) was amazing. Really, this was a right balance of sweetness, tartiness, sourness and spiciness. Or lack of it, since the staff mistakenly thought that we were not lovers of spicy food. I merely say “normal” spiciness when being asked whether I would like to have our salad spicy or not. Still, the dried shrimps were far from dry and tasteless, or too briny and overwhelming.
The Grilled pork neck (Kor Moo Yang) was smoked to a beautiful degree; leaving the meat tender, juicy and slightly chewy with a right bounce from the all lean muscles so much revered yet distinctly difficult to find back in our backyard.
Larb Moo (Minced pork salad with spices) is but one of Isaan’s favourite option, or you can also have one with catfish or beef. Bits of minced pork, fats, and skin were tossed in the dressing that was neither too tangy or spicy, accentuated by the addition of lime and fish sauce.
We wished we had more space for the fried catfish salad, grilled beef, fish cakes, clear spicy soup with pork, various delectable salads, etc. But this was post-lunch and pre-dinner. Thus, we still had to leave some space for the impending feast(s) come later hours of the day.
Still, there’s no effort more rewarding that feasting on good old Thai fares after a marathon session with several locals giving you puzzled stares, since this area is far from a preferred pick in a tourist’s itinerary.
One word of caution though; consider taking a cab from the nearest MRT/BTS station instead if you’re not keen on being a wanderer (or a lost sheep, depending on how you view this ….)
SOI POLO FRIED CHICKEN
No 3, Soi Polo (Soi Sanam Khli)
Off Thanon Witthayu (Wireless Road)
Lumpini, Bangkok, Thailand
GPS : 13.732371,100.546219
Google Map to Soi Polo Fried Chicken
Directions : From Lumpini MRT, walk northbound on Wireless Road. You will pass Lumpini Park on your LEFT, and Soi Polo will be on your right after you pass by Lumpini police station on your RIGHT. A fairly long walk, about 15 minutes from the MRT station.
Business Hours: 7am – 10pm
*Apologies for the recent bouts of disappearances and hiatus between posts. If I am taking longer to reply the comments, please understand that I am on a consecutive spell of travelling lately. Off to Johor Bahru this Tuesday, and followed by a few more towns all over before finally settling down for this quarter.