Published on November 16, 2007
A day at the busy corner shop Nai Soon typically begins with the delivery of a fresh load of poultry. Prasert "Phi Ting" Saelim is the oldest brother of five siblings who inherited their late father's secret recipes for Teochew-style braised ducks and geese. He is the one who wakes up earliest as he is the only one in the family allowed to prepare the dishes, the recipes for which are closely guarded secrets.
Nai Soon (Ting) offers delicious braised goose and duck. The restaurant is on busy Charoen Nakhon Road, at the corner of Soi 12. During the crowded lunch hour, the restaurant's small seating area sprawls out over the pavement.
I had heard about this place long ago, but had put it off for a long time, because to be honest, I usually do not visit a place that requires too much effort. However, on a recent visit to the Peninsula Hotel, instead of eating at the hotel, I and my party crossed the road to enjoy the pleasures of this old-style eatery.
The place was crowded, with the inside tables already taken, so we were invited to wait while they expanded - which meant setting up a table on the footpath. They have stacks of collapsible tables and plastic chairs waiting for just this purpose.
We ordered the usual - a plate of duck and goose, a bowl of double-boiled pork rib soup and cabbage pickles, some Teochew-style braised Chinese bamboo shoots and a plate of slowly braised silver barb fish.
The rice came first, on a big tray, along with the chopsticks, spoons and two dishes of Nai Soon's chilli-vinegar-garlic dipping sauce. We had to wait a bit before the arrival of our appetiser, the bamboo (Bt50), which was tender and aromatic. Chinese bamboo is mostly made into home-cooked soup with pork spareribs, but at Nai Soon, they prepare it by slowly cooking the chunky pieces in the rich palo (five spices) relish, making the bamboo tender, but still crunchy.
The lunchtime crowd seemed to hamper the service of the place. Sitting outside under a small umbrella on a hot day is not my favourite fashion of eating. But we persevered and finally got our plate of the goose and duck (Bt150 for a middle-size plate), the soup and the fish. By that time, our steamed rice had already gone hard and cold. But we tucked into the meat anyway and found it pleasurable enough, especially when dunked into the sharply sour vinegar dip. The soup is also hearty, well-cooked and has an aromatic broth. The fish (Bt50), served whole, melts in the mouth. The barb meat is flavoursome for the ginger broth, in which the fish is marinated for at least 24 hours to soften the plentiful small bones typical of barbs.
Looking around, it seems that people come here just for the taste and they all seem to enjoy the place's down-home ambience. Many people shared tables with strangers, but it's a small price to pay for such delicious dishes.
"We have been open for more than 30 years. Our father opened this restaurant," says Udomrak "Ja" Saelim, the family's second daughter who helps out with with serving and cashiering. "We have regular fans that come from all over Bangkok just to eat our famous dishes."
We liked the goose more than the duck for its firm meat and not-too-sweet broth. Wings, gizzards and legs are also available separately for Bt20 to Bt100 apiece. The restaurant also takes orders during Chinese holidays when ducks and geese are used in ceremonies.
Parking is available kerbside.
Nai Soon (Ting)
Charoen Nakhon Road (near Soi 12)
Daily 11am to 7pm
(02) 437 9357
Sirin P Wongpanit
For more reviews, visit www.ohsirin.blogspot.com.