After a far too late in the evening walk through Lumpini Park in Bangkok, we were starving, but all we saw was a 25 seat, crowded, dingy corner Thai restaurant with a horrid name. The name of the restaurant ‘Kow Tom’ means rice soup, which is served for breakfast and late night snack, but never lunch and definitely not dinner. Were it not for the mass of university students and an older farang, we would never have looked twice. But we were dying of hunger and curious.
In Thailand, it's common to ask a server what's good at a restaurant, so as sat down, our server recommend a few dishes, none of which were rice soup. We ordered all his suggestions. The tod mun goong (shrimp patties) were being fried on the sidewalk in front of the restaurant. A fried fish came with nampla prig sauce. The nampla prig sauce was made with fish sauce, sugar, green onion, shallots, cilantro, hot chili and shredded green mango. The green mango gave it sour and nutty taste. I also ordered stir fried pak gachade (water vegetable) and a soup. The tofu and ground pork soup was just right even though it’s a simple soup. Everything turned out to be excellent.
I chatted with our server before we left. The restaurant started 14 years ago offering rice soup, then gradually transitioned into the dishes that they offer today. Now, they no longer offering rice soup, but the name ‘rice soup’ stuck and they couldn’t change it. He said that it’s a family business, pointing to different people in the restaurant as his aunts and uncle.
We had a great time walking in the park seeing a turtle, butterflies, dancers, millipedes, a water monitor lizard, cats and dogs. It was a great end to the day to have discovered such a great simple Thai restaurant with great food.
Restaurant: Kow Tom Polo
Location:137/14 Wireless Road Bangkok
Telephone: 02 252-6887
Landmarks: On Wireless Road (same street as the American embassy) next to the Lumpini Police Station, across the street from Witayu Entrance of the Lumpini Park. Look for pedestrian overpass.
Transportation: Take the BTS to Pleanchit Station and take a taxi down Wireless Road to the restaurant. Or take BTS to Sala Daeng Station and take taxi to Soi Polo (should be short hop). Take MRT to Lumphini Station and take a short ride on taxi to Soi Polo.
Hours: Closed on Sundays
Ambience: Not a nice air-conditioned restaurant. Crude toilet facilities.