August 10th, 2003

Bei Otto

I'd wanted to visit Bei Otto ever since I heard about it. A German restaurant in Bangkok? A Schwartzwaldstube, in fact? I had to eat there. Besides, I had a free day before all my friends arrived in Bangkok, so I'd be able to indulge my curiosity without inflicting the results on anyone.

Bei Otto
1 Soi 20, Thanon Sukhumvit
Bangkok 10110
Tel: +
Fax: +
BTS Skytrain: Asok or Phrom Phong

As it turned out, Bei Otto seems pretty authentic to me. The owner is a German chef who was hired to run the flagship beer hall of a Thai brewery company. After three years he quit to start his own restaurant. Bei Otto has been in Bangkok ever since. And yes, his name is Otto.

I had the B.220 ($5.25) set lunch, available daily except Sunday, when there's a buffet spread which I intend to come back and try. The set lunch consisted of German Stew (a ham and vegetable stew), Chicken Escalope in Gravy Sauce (actually chicken breast slices under a tomato sauce) with home fried potatoes and fresh salad. A banana fritter with vanilla sauce dessert was included. I also ordered a glass of apple wine (B.110, $2.63).

The stew was quite good, if a bit salty, though the chicken breast (which came with sauteed onions and peppers) suffered because I was expecting a brown sauce, not tomato. The home fries were excellent, with onion and ham. The salad was fresh, and came with a vinagrette on the side. I had a brief moment of concern as to whether I should be eating raw lettuce in Thailand, but the fact that the place was an expatriate hangout (there were Germans, English, and American businessmen eating around me, judging from conversation) reassured me, and in the event, I had no stomach problems afterward.

The batter-fried banana fritters were a bit too much fritter and not enough banana, but were tasty, swimming in a vanilla sauce and topped with cinnamon sugar.

Service was excellent, so I rounded up the 10% service to about 15%. The extensive menu, full of German specialities and beer, is in German and English. (I didn't find maultaschen, but I guess they're Swabian.) Decor is reasonably reminiscent of a traditional German restaurant, with lots of wood all around. The walls are decorated with all kinds of expatriate memorabilia; it's clear the local community eats and drinks here regularly.

Bei Otto has both a European restaurant and a German one in the same complex. (I can't remember which one was which but I have a flier with the hours and will update that when I have the flier in front of me.) There's also a bakery, a butcher's shop, a delicatessen, and an international press shop.

There are a couple of items on the menu I find intriguing, like the smoked fish platter, and the selection of liver sausages, which I think I'll order sometime if I get the chance.

An authentic German lunch for less than eight euros, including drinks and tip. Try finding that kind of deal back in Germany.

Tidbit Treasure

Bika and I had a few hours free between the time I went up to Don Maung to meet her flight, and the time we needed to be back up to Don Maung to meet Sam and Clara. We decided that going back into town beat eating at the airport, particularly since the agony that is Bangkok rush hour traffic was pretty much over.

Chom's, our first choice, was closed, so after conferring with her brother, Bika suggested we eat at Tidbit Treasure, near the Emporium Mall.

Tidbit Treasure
593/19 Sukhumvit Soi 33/1 Thanon Sukhumvit
North Khlongtan, Wattana
Tel: +66.2258.5056
daily: 1100-1400, 1730-2200
BTS Skytrain: Phrom Phong

Tidbit Treasure is a smallish Chinese cafe, serving Thai interpreted Chinese food. It's not bad but nothing spectacular, except for one dish we ordered which I thought was out of this world, #161: Baked rice with black olives and minced pork in claypot. It was excellent, and I've scribbled down the characters to show to mom and ask her what the heck it actually is. What it tasted like was a rice dish with a thick layer of very flavorful minced pork cooked on top of it.

I can't remember what the price of this dish was, but most dishes there were in the B.100-150 ($2.40-$3.60)range. Nothing to break the bank. The most expensive things on the menu were the Peking duck and the Shark's fin, at B.400 ($9.60).

Overall, the place wouldn't get a listing if it weren't for the one dish. But that one dish is memorable, and it's entirely possible there are other such gems on the menu. It's worth trying some to see if there are.

Bangpo Sea Food

Bika and her sister Ann had been looking for a place on Koh Samui with real Southern Thai food. The day we rented a car and were thus able to roam the island we got a chance to track down a place one of their relatives found.

Bangpo Sea Food
92/3 Moo 6 Maenam (between kms 44 and 45)
Koh Samui
Tel: +66.77.420010

Bangpo is the name of a beach on the north side of Samui island, and the restaurant itself is an open-air place facing the sea, with a spectacular view. Many tables are shaded, either by palm trees or by roofing, so you won't bake while you eat. Around you, chickens abound, pecking at imagined bits of food in the sand. The roosters seemed not to understand that as it was mid-afternoon, their crowing was overdue and unnecessary.

The food was excellent. As a starter, the waitstaff brings namprik kupbi, a dry chili and shrimp paste, served on coconut shell, which you use as a dipping sauce for string beans and cucumber slices. It's spicy but very flavorful.

We ordered one item from the chalkboard specials menu (all in Thai, so it was helpful to have two native Thai speakers in our party): cockles with seaweed (B.50, $1.20) recommended by our waitress. Crunchy, spicy, with a fantastic mix of flavors. The baked shrimp with glass noodle (B.250, $6), served with chili sauce on the side, was okay, but not spectacular. The shrimp themselves were enormous, however, and the serving was quite large. The fried crab with curry powder/paste (B.110, $2.65) was excellent. Our sour curry soup (two sizes: B.70, $1.65 and B.150, $3.60), was fiery hot, but good.

Bika and I got all this with coconut milk in rice (B. 15 for an individual portion or B. 60 for a big group). The servings of brown rice cooked in coconut milk were so tasty but very heavy and possibly a mistake. Nonetheless, although neither of us managed to finish our plates we were still really glad we ordered them.

B.500 ($12) paid for more food than the three of us could eat. We waddled back to our rental car. And you probably need a rental car or other independent transportation to get here, although there is a bus stop nearby.

The menu, except for the specials board, is in both English and Thai. They do take credit cards.